x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Footballer sentenced to prison for scam

Former Emirati footballer who worked for the Crown Prince's diwan sentenced to a year's jail for cheating two people out of millions of dirhams in exchange for fake decrees of citizenship.

ABU DHABI // A former Emirati footballer who worked for the Crown Prince's diwan has been sentenced to one year in jail by the Appeals Court for cheating two people out of millions of dirhams in exchange for fake decrees of citizenship.

MG, who used to play for the national team, along with the Emirati man FS, who worked for the Ministry of Labour, the Sudanese men MO and TA, and the Jordanian man MI, were charged with forgery and fraudulently obtaining Dh5.5 million from two Pakistani businessmen.

The Appeals Court sentenced FS, the ringleader, to two years in prison, with the rest of the defendants getting one year.

The two Pakistani businessmen had been told the suspects could use their connections to the Royal Family to obtain decrees of citizenship.

The defendants used copies of old decrees, changing the names to match those of their victims. The five were arrested in a sting after Abu Dhabi Police was tipped off in June of last year.

The Appeals Court had previously sentenced all the defendants to one year in prison. The case was then sent to the Court of Cassation which sent it back to the Appeals Court because there were no translators present during the victims' questioning at the public prosecution.

Police investigations showed that FM, with the help of two other defendants, brought the victims to a palace in the capital and took their fingerprints as a procedure towards obtaining citizenship.

While MG was found guilty of fraud, he was acquitted of taking advantage of his job in the public sector to obtain a bribe, since working for royals is not considered a public job.

Under the law any person who works in the royal diwans is not considered a public employee therefore they cannot be charged with accepting bribes. As for the charge of fraudulently obtaining the money, MG's lawyer argued that there was no proper evidence that MG claimed he could obtain the citizenship decrees through his connections.

"He is a popular personality, he used to be a football player and then a police officer for 15 years and then worked at the royal diwan," MG's lawyer said. The lawyer added that just because others had referred the victims to MG did not prove that MG had been party to the scam.

The other suspects had presented a variety of defences.

MI argued that the case against him was purely because the victim RK held a grudge as he had divorced the man's daughter.

MO said the public prosecution did not complete its investigations with him and that he had been thrown in prison without a charge, on top of being assaulted by police at the Khalifa City A police station.

TA's lawyer argued that his client had merely introduced the victims to FM and MG and arranged a meeting.

hdajani@thenational.ae