x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Nine Deyaar executives charged in Dh237m fraud cause

Nine defendants, including the former Deyaar chief executive, have denied charges of swindling the development company out of Dh237 million.

DUBAI // Six Deyaar executives, including the American former chief executive, joined three other defendants today in denying charges filed against them of incurring losses to the country and economy, facilitation for others to acquire Government funds, and bribery and embezzlement worth Dh237 million.

In all, nine defendants were charged today in the high-profile corruption case that has been heard since 2008 at the Dubai Misdemeanours Court.

The court last April determined that the case was not within its jurisdiction, and, due to the sheer size of the alleged corruption, referred it back to prosecutors to re-investigate.

Today, seven months later, eight of the nine defendants appeared before the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance to deny the charges.

The defendants - including the American ZS, who is the former Deyaar chief executive; JK of India, who was Deyaar's marketing manager; the Indian former operations manager JD, who is on the run; and three Indian executives, as well as Pakistani and Lebanese executives - were charged along with an Argentinian Dubai-based company owner.

All have been charged with abuse of public office, defrauding, swindling, embezzling, breach of trust, forgery and using fake documents, as well as divulging the development company's secrets. All of them were also charged with aiding and abetting a crime, along with new charges of incurring losses to the country and economy, as well as facilitation for others to acquire Government funds.

ZS, the former Deyaar chief executive, has become the longest-ever provisional detainee, having completed nearly 45 months in detention since his arrest over alleged graft in March 2008.

Prosecutors specifically have charged ZS with embezzling and swindling public funds, and intentionally inflicting loss of public funds — as Deyaar is a Government entity. He is also charged with offering and accepting bribes, deliberately damaging the country's interest, revealing Deyaar's secrets and unlawfully benefiting from the divulging of company secrets.

According to the new charge sheet, Deyaar has incurred a loss of Dh22.1 million for its involvement in a project in Turkey, Dh21.5 million for a project in Abu Dhabi, Dh3.5 million over a project in Dubai, and almost Dh190 million in bribes and unlawful discounts, bonuses and commissions, which were allegedly collected by the nine defendants.

The case came to light in 2008 after a series of investigations by the Dubai Financial Audit Department revealed financial irregularities in Deyaar's records.

ZS and the eight executives were investigated, while ZS alone was remanded into custody. The other defendants were arrested at later dates. Some of them were granted bail.

Several of ZS's bail attempts were refused before the court granted him conditional release in exchange for a Dh4 million bond, which he was unable to pay.

The court adjourned the case to December 25 for the defence to present its case and witness testimony.