x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Prosecutor's jail term reduced from 3,000 to three years

The Federal Court of Appeals issues verdict on a fraud case involving an Emirati public prosecutor and two Bahrainis

ABU DHABI // A Public Prosecution official initially sentenced to 3,000 years behind bars but released on bail during 15 years of court proceedings was jailed yesterday for three years — for wasting investors' money.

The Federal Court of Appeals finally issued a verdict on a fraud case involving an Emirati public prosecutor, SM, and two Bahrainis.

The case was first heard by the Federal Court of First Instance in 1995, and even now is not finished: a final verdict from the Federal Supreme Court is still to come.

Prosecutors say the three defendants ran a Ponzi scheme in which they took money from 3,000 people, promising them lucrative returns. Their company, Pan Asia, claimed to have been investing in stock markets, cars and gold, among other things.

They were charged with the dissipation of investors' money, a misdemeanour.

The case has taken a long time, according to a court official, because it involved so many victims and required detailed auditing.

The first court sentenced the men to a year for each misdemeanour, a total of 3,000 years. They appealed, and the Federal Court of Appeals instead gave them suspended three-year sentences.

Arguing that the scheme targeted the country's economy, federal prosecutors appealed to the Federal Supreme Court. In 2006, it sent the case back to the appeal court for a retrial.

The case had received wide publicity in the UAE, and many of the victims are said to have already died while waiting for a final verdict.

Yesterday's ruling will finally allow the victims to file a civil lawsuit, in an attempt to get their money back.

The two Bahraini defendants have already served their sentences, but the Emirati will have to go to jail because he has been free on bail the whole time.

If the defendants or prosecutors appeal again, the case will be heard for one last time at the Federal Supreme Court, whose verdict will not be subject to appeal.