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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

British banker Ryan Cornelius given 20 more years in Dubai jail over massive fraud

The property developer and hotelier was convicted of a $500m fraud

Charles Ridley, left, and Ryan Cornelius were first detained in 2008, but have now learnt they will have their sentences extended by 20 years
Charles Ridley, left, and Ryan Cornelius were first detained in 2008, but have now learnt they will have their sentences extended by 20 years

A British businessman convicted of defrauding a UAE bank by $500 million has had his sentence extended by 20 years.

Ryan Cornelius, 64, a property developer and hotelier, recently finished serving a 10-year term for his part in illegally obtaining a $501 million loan.

But before his release, a Dubai court ruled that the sentence be extended by two decades unless a $430m debt, equal to about Dh1.6 billion, is settled.

It has also been ruled that the loan, obtained before the financial crisis from Dubai Islamic Bank, was obtained under false pretences in collusion with two bank insiders.

Cornelius was first detained in 2008 with another British businessman, Charles Ridley, and the two Pakistani officers from the bank, Omair Mooraj and Rifatul-Islam Usmani.

In 2011, all four men were convicted of fraud linked to a $501m loan and sentenced to 10 years in jail. A $500m fine was imposed as well as a demand to repay the loan.

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Read more:

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Record 10-year sentences over Dh1.8bn DIB fraud case

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The Financial Times reported that DIB had recently brought new proceedings against the accused to recover the loan.

Court documents show the bank has used a law designed to extend sentences for those who defraud the government, which holds a stake in DIB, and do not return the proceeds.

The money was used to invest in a variety of projects, by Cornelius and others, including the purchase of a Canadian oil refinery with the intention of rebuilding it in Pakistan.

Other potential investments included an ambitious plan for a polo, equestrian, hotel and luxury villa complex in the desert outside Dubai.

The nature of the loan was discovered as part of an anti-corruption crackdown launched after the financial crisis.

A first trial collapsed in 2010 but Cornelius, Ridley and the Pakistani bank officials were later convicted despite denying the charges. A fifth man, Arthur Fitzwilliam, was acquitted.

Cornelius’s family has appealed to the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office to try to help with his case.