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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Men jailed for Dh100m bribe offer to release banned red sandalwood containers from port

Indian men offered a ports chief Dh1m per shipping container to allow them into the country but Emirati refused and they will now spend six months in jail each.

Four Indians who offered a high-ranking customs official almost Dh100 million to release 98 shipping containers of the banned red sandalwood through Jebel Ali Port have been jailed.

The defendants – two businessmen and two salesmen aged between 33 and 46 – will spend six months in prison and pay a fine of Dh50,000 each after the Dubai Criminal Court ruling.

The men offered the chief executive of Trakhees, Dubai’s port customs and freezone corporation, Dh1m for each container he allowed to move to warehouses in Jebel Ali Free Zone.

The Emirati said one of the defendants contacted him in August last year while he was in England with his family.

“He told me that his friend, also Indian, wanted to meet me in London and start a partnership. I refused politely but he gave my phone number to his friend, who contacted me and came to see me,” said the 47-year-old.

He did not give much attention to the man’s proposal, which was regarding a security-related business, but last November, when back in the UAE, the two men came to see him accompanied by a third man.

“They asked for a meeting in the Capital Hotel in Dubai, which happened during December. All four defendants came to the meeting, during which they told me about shipping containers that contained banned red sandalwood, and offered me Dh1 million for each container,” said the chief executive, who called police. They asked him to play along as if he was going to do the deal.

Each container was filled with Dh3m worth of red sandalwood. Dh1m would be paid to the chief executive with the remaining Dh2m split between the defendants.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora agreement bans the import of red sandalwood.

Police recorded several meetings between the chief executive and the defendants, who were arrested on December 12 after handing him Dh500,000.

The containers were seized by Dubai Customs but their owners are not known.

The four men will be deported after serving their jail terms.