x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Australia's Gillard appeals to Ruler of Dubai over four-year house arrest case

Julia Gillard has reached out to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid over the decision by prosecutors to appeal the acquittal of a former Nakheel employee in a Dh44 million fraud case.

Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard has appealed to Dubai's ruler for help over the long-running Dubai Waterfront fraud saga. Reuters/Andrew Taylor
Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard has appealed to Dubai's ruler for help over the long-running Dubai Waterfront fraud saga. Reuters/Andrew Taylor

DUBAI // The former Australian prime minister has written to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, over the decision by prosecutors to appeal against the acquittal of a former Nakheel employee in a Dh44 million fraud case.

Marcus Lee has spent more than four years under house arrest after being accused of being part of the collapsed Dubai Waterfront project before judges cleared him of any wrongdoing last month.

But earlier this month public prosecutors in Dubai announced they were appealing against the verdict – leading to Julia Gillard, who yesterday lost her job as prime minister to fellow Labor Party colleague Kevin Rudd, to intervene by writing a letter to Sheikh Mohammed after previously calling him over the matter.

Mr Lee, 44, said: “After being in the Dubai court system for so long, and following the extreme disappointment on learning of the decision by the prosecutor to appeal against my full acquittal, we are encouraged by our situation now being raised at such senior levels.

“We thank Ms Gillard for her continued interest in our situation and for her raising our acquittal and her concerns with the Dubai Ruler.”

The couple have also lodged an application to the courts to request changes to their bail conditions, which have remained the same since his acquittal.

Mr Lee was cleared by a panel of judges on May 20, alongside another man, Anthony Brearley, who had already fled the country.

Two others, Matthew Joyce and Angus Reed, were each sentenced to 10 years in jail and ordered to repay the Dh44m.

The four men, who are all Australian, were accused in January 2009 of theft and fraud involving a plot of land in the Dubai Waterfront project.

 

jbell@thenational.ae