x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Extradition treaty ratified between UAE and Australia

The agreement will boost the chances of the Dubai Prosecutor's office of recovering Dh44 million allegedly embezzled from the Dubai Waterfront project by four Australians.

DUBAI // An extradition treaty between the UAE and Australia will take effect next month, according to the Australian Embassy.

The treaty was ratified on July 26 by Dr Hadef Al Dhaheri, the Minister of Justice, and David Johnston, Australia's minister of justice and customs, in Canberra.

It is due to come into force on September 8, according to Dr Mark Napier, Chargé d'Affaires of the Australian Embassy in Abu Dhabi. "Australia is pleased to confirm that the governments of Australia and the United Arab Emirates exchanged instruments of ratification for treaties on extradition and mutual assistance on August 8, 2011," he said.

The treaty allows Australian and UAE authorities to extradite anyone wanted for prosecution in the other country, and means citizens of either nation can be prosecuted locally. Under the treaty, an extraditable offence is a crime punishable under the criminal laws of both countries by a maximum penalty of at least one year in prison.

The agreement bans extradition in eight specific circumstances, including if there is evidence the crime involved is based on politics, or if torture is involved. If extradition is refused on the basis of one of the grounds in the treaty, the UAE may ask that the matter be prosecuted in Australia, and vice versa.

The agreement will boost the chances of the Dubai Prosecutor's office of recovering Dh44 million allegedly embezzled from the Dubai Waterfront project by four Australians.

Since 2009, Dubai has been prosecuting the former Nakheel executives MJ and ML, the chief executive officer of the Dubai Waterfront project and his deputy, over the fraud allegations.

The businessman AR and the former Dubai Waterfront's legal affairs manager AB were listed as fugitives in the same case after they fled the emirate in 2009. They are now in Australia. Prosecutors have not revealed whether they will pursue the extradition or indictment in Australia of AB and AR.

All four also face civil charges in Australia by the developer of the Dubai project, Sunland Group. MJ and ML have been released on bail in Dubai but are barred from travel.

The treaty was presented to the Australian parliament in 2007 and was fiercely contested. In November last year, legislators there allowed it.

A second treaty on mutual assistance on criminal matters will also come into effect on September 8, said Dr Napier.

amustafa@thenational.ae