x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Retrial for seven accused of Dh35bn fraud

Alleged ringleader of attempt to withdraw vast sum from the Central Bank remains at large.

ABU DHABI // Seven people convicted of attempting to defraud the Central Bank of more than €7 billion (Dh35.6bn) have been granted a retrial.

The defendants, four Iranians, two Germans and one Belgian, appeared before the Criminal Court of First Instance in January charged with attempting to withdraw the money on December 21 from the Central Bank. The alleged mastermind of the fraud attempt, an Iranian identified as Farzeen Ali, who has been charged recently in other similar cases, has never been arrested.

At the original hearing, Mr Ali was sentenced to five years in prison in his absence.

All the others were acquitted, but later sentenced to two years in prison when prosecutors appealed.

Three of the men said they had been planning to build a five-star hospital in Abu Dhabi when they were approached by four Iranians with a "legitimate business deal" to finance the project. The Iranians convinced them they could withdraw the money from an account at the Central Bank and transfer it to a bank in Frankfurt, Germany.

The three entered the bank with a document claiming to give them authorisation for one of the Germans to receive the money on behalf of Mr Ali. The three men were arrested and led police officers to the four Iranians who were also accused of forging the documents.

No date was set for the retrial.

hhassan@thenational.ae