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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Man accused of issuing Dh20 million bounced cheque

Defendant claims he was forced to issue the cheque after threats were made against his family

A man claimed he issued a Dh20 million cheque, that bounced, after threats were made against his family, a court heard.

The Iranian-American denied a charge of issuing a cheque without sufficient funds at Dubai Court of Misdemeanours, insisting he only did so after being placed under duress.

The 54-year-old told the court he received an email from a person he did not know containing pictures of his family back in Iran - and a threat to hurt them.

He flew to Iran a few days after he received the letter to make sure his family was safe.

“When I was Tehran, I received more pictures of people standing in front of my family’s house in a message that suggests my family members are reachable and can be harmed,” said the accused.

He was then contacted by the person who sent him the messages asking for a meeting.

He said he then met with a number of men on August 13, who asked him to spy on the UAE and provide them with information about the country.

“They tried to convince me that it would be safe and no one would suspect me because I carry an American passport,” said the defendant.

The man claims that when he refused, he was beaten up and forced to sign on a number of cheques.

“They hit me and I still have bruises and injuries to the head and other parts of my body and I ask that you refer me to the forensic experts to prove that,” the man told prosecutors.

He said, in court records, that after the assault he was forced to sign several cheques before being set free.

“The cheque in this case is only one among many other cheques that I was forced to sign and all of them were issued in the name of a man that I know and previously had business with, and he was among the men who assaulted and coerced me in Tehran,” he said.

Court records include a note by the investigating prosecutor stating that the accused had an injury on his head during questioning, which he claimed to be a result of the assault.

According to court documents, the man was reported to police for issuing a bad cheque on August 16 and was arrested the following day as he landed at Dubai International Airport.

The man's lawyer said he was coerced into signing the cheque.

“My client didn’t sign a cheque in a business deal which then bounced,” said Jumaa Mlaih, his legal counsel.

“He was forced to and, only because he refused to spy, the men submitted the cheque against him to twist his arm into doing that they wanted from him.”

A verdict will be issued next month.