x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Lawyer who gave away company secrets sentenced in his absence

American corporate lawyer sentenced to three years sends court a letter saying he is dealing with family emergency outside country.

DUBAI // A corporate lawyer was sentenced yesterday in his absence to three years in jail for industrial espionage, and ordered to pay his former employer almost a quarter of a million dirhams in compensation. JC, a 37-year-old lawyer for the Dubai-based company Meeras Capital, was found guilty of revealing sensitive information to a rival firm, the Abu Dhabi-based al Qudra Holdings, last February.

He was ordered to pay the company Dh200,000 in temporary civil compensation, and he is also facing a civil suit for an undisclosed amount from the company. The American was tried in his absence at the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance after his lawyer presented the court with a letter claiming he was dealing with a family emergency outside the country. Meeras Capital is a subsidiary of Meeras Holdings. According to the chief of the Bur Dubai Prosecution Sami al Shamsi's chargesheet, e-mail records revealed communications between JC and AS, a 48-year-old South African woman, a corporate lawyer for al Qudra Holdings. They included company secrets about Meeras Holding's Jumeirah Gardens development.

It is claimed that in her first e-mail AS asked JC to provide her with a full list of the consultants used by Meeras Holdings, as well as a list of the major planners and consultants in Dubai. In his reply, JC stated that Meeras Holdings had used many consultants for its projects, and that the company was in debt to them. In a second e-mail, he revealed the names of the contractors, and said the company had decided to deal with another contractor that was expensive and eventually led to the Jumeirah Gardens project being scrapped.

JC went further in a third e-mail, telling AS that Meeras Holdings employees were leaving the company and that it was facing liquidation. JC told prosecutors he acknowledged his error of judgement, claiming he sent the e-mails in the hope of getting a job with al Qudra, but had not meant to hurt Meeras's interests. AS said she had only asked JC for a list of contractors and planners, claiming he had given up the sensitive details of his own accord.

amustafa@thenational.ae