x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Deyaar chief 'accepted bribes while in jail'

A lawyer acting for the former chief executive of Deyaar said he was baffled after new charges that his client took bribes worth millions of dirhams while in custody.

DUBAI // A defence lawyer acting for the former chief executive of Deyaar, who faces multiple fraud accusations, said he was baffled yesterday after new charges were laid that allege his client accepted bribes worth millions of dirhams while in custody. ZS, 45, and two other suspects were charged at the Criminal Court of First Instance yesterday with accepting bribes worth Dh30 million (US$8m) from a Dubai-based construction services company in July.

But Eisa bin Haider, the defence counsel for ZS, said he was at a loss to explain the new charges. "[The prosecution] have stated that he has accepted bribes in that amount during his incarceration in jail," Mr bin Haider said. "I just don't understand how that is possible." ZS has been in custody since March 23 last year facing charges in two other cases. One involves MK, a former Government minister for finance and industry and the ex-chairman of Dubai Islamic Bank, and an Indian executive, JM.

All three are currently standing trial on charges of embezzling Dh53.6m. Authorities have accused the trio of misusing company funds, breach of trust, bribery, forgery and embezzlement, including the receipt of Dh6.23m in bribes. In the second case, ZS is charged with conveying false financial information and accepting a Dh11.75m bribe to facilitate a property sale. He has pleaded not guilty in both cases.

The two other suspects who were charged along with ZS yesterday are JM, 61, an Argentinean partner at Ambience Technologies, and FL, a Canadian project manager at Thermo LLC, a construction services company, who is still at large. Prosecutors allege all three were involved in bribery regarding tenders from Deyaar. They claim the defendants committed the alleged crimes as public officials. Yesterday's charges came the day after Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, issued a new law decreeing that public officials convicted of fraud would serve from five to 20 years in prison.

Judge Fahmy Mounir Fahmy adjourned yesterday's hearing to January 17 for the defence to prepare their case. ZS and JM were remanded in custody. @Email:amustafa@thenational.ae