x

Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Residency officer who took bribes for processing ineligible family visas has fine reduced

Emirati processed 349 family visa applications in Dubai from people ineligible to sponsor relatives in return for over half a million dirhams.

A Dubai residency department official who was jailed for one year and fined Dh697,000 for taking bribes has won a reduced fine but his prison sentence remains.

The 28-year-old Emirati residency officer pocketed Dh547,000 in bribes to process family visas for ineligible dependents.

A 36-year-old Indian acted as a broker between the officer and the people wanting visas. He was convicted of aiding and abetting the Emirati and offering bribes, also receiving a one-year jail sentence and a fine of Dh150,000.

In 2014 and 2015, the residency officer endorsed 349 family visa applications submitted by people who, according to their occupations and salary, were not eligible to sponsor family members. They did not even have tenancy contracts.

The officer was convicted of forgery, use of forged documents and of seeking and accepting bribes. He filled in bogus data for the 349 visas on the department’s e-system.

The incident came to light in June 2015, when the officer’s co-worker, 41, came across some of the applications that the defendant had processed. He went to the archives section and failed to find the original applications, then checked further and discovered that all the transactions had no approved tenancy contracts attached to them.

An internal investigation was carried out and the officer denied any wrongdoing at first then confessed when confronted with the fact that all the applications were issued using his username and password.

The department then reported him to police and officers had him arrange a meeting with the Indian, who was arrested at the residency department car park in Twar. He had nine visa applications on him at the time of arrest that he had planned to hand to the officer.

“He [the Emirati] claimed during questioning that the Indian initially brought him documents of his cousin who had no tenancy contract and begged him to issue him a family visa,” said a police officer.

The defendant told police he felt sorry for the man and processed the application but then he began to return with more applications and the Indian threatened to report over the cousin’s visa if he did not continue processing the rest.

The defendant later told prosecutors that he would pocket Dh500 if it was a wife’s visa or Dh600 plus for a wife and children, depending on the number of children.

In Dubai Criminal Court last November, both men denied charges against them but they were both convicted and sentenced to a year in jail.

The Emirati was fined Dh697,000 but got it reduced at Dubai Court of Appeal on Wednesday to the amount he made from the scam - Dh547,000. However, the jail terms against both men and the Indian's fine were upheld. The Indian will still be deported after serving his term.