x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Dubai inspector demanded for Dh50,000 bribe to overlook hotel violations

An inspector at the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing in Dubai is accused of demanding for a Dh50,000 bribe in exchange for overlooking hotel violations.

DUBAI // A Department of Tourism inspector told a hotel chain owner he would turn a blind eye to violations on his properties in exchange for Dh50,000, a court heard today.

Prosecutors told the Criminal Court the 44-year-old Emirati KM, asked for the bribe from RJ, the Indian owner of a number of outlets including the Fortune Grand Hotel. He asked to be paid in two instalments of Dh25,000 and the hotel owner agreed.

TM, a 32-year-old policeman, told the court he began investigating the inspector following a tip off and found that he had been seeking bribes from a number of hotel owners.

"He would issue a violation ticket, then when the hotel's owner called to inquire, he would ask for a bribe to cancel it," said the policeman.

He said a sting was organised in which a hotel owner fined by the inspector contacted him to inquire about cancelling the violation.

"[The inspector] asked for Dh25,000 in return for not carrying out any further visits," said the policeman.

The inspector then met the hotel owner at a five-star hotel on May 7 and undercover officers watched as he received the Dh25,000. The inspector was then arrested.

Following the inspector's arrest, officers arrested the owner of the Fortune Grand Hotel after finding out he had paid such a bribe. The owner told prosecutors that he was introduced to the inspector in February this year through his partner. "During 2011 I found out that my partner had paid the inspector Dh25,000. When I asked him why, he said that it was so he would overlook any violations in our hotel," he said.

He added that earlier this year the inspector called his partner and told him he needed money because his real estate company had debts due. "He called him again in March telling him he wrote a cheque worth Dh35,000 that bounced and that he desperately needed more money or he would be fired."

Prosecutors charged the inspector with seeking bribes and the owner of the Fortune Grand Hotel with criminal complicity. They both denied the charges.

"I asked for the money as a loan," said the inspector, while the hotel owner insisted that he paid the money because his business had been threatened.

No date was set for the next hearing.

salamir@thenational.ae