x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Saudi sheikh defrauded of Dh40m in Palm Jumeirah land deal, court told

Promised property on the Palm Jumeirah never materialised, court told.

DUBAI // A German couple and the chief executive of a Dubai-based holding company, accused of embezzling Dh40 million from a Saudi shekih, will be judged by a court-appointed committee, it was decided today.

All three denied creating a fraudulent Palm Jumeirah land deal before the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours. The judge referred the case to a court-appointed panel of experts.

The Saudi businessman, identified as Sheikh MA, filed a case against the German VL, 61, his wife, TL, 43, and the Briton YY, 40, the CEO of International Holdings Group after paying them Dh3m in August 2005 and Dh37m in September 2005, records show.

Prosecution records show the three offered MA in 2005 a 600,000-square-metre plot at the crescent segment of the island.

MA testified that YY told him his German partners were royalty. He added that he was shown papers signed between the three and Nakheel, the developer of the island, to prove their ownership of the plot.

"They claimed that they had connections with the royalty in the UAE, and they claimed that the land transfer would be done quickly and easily," MA told prosecutors.

MA said his son met VL to follow up on the transfer, but was told not to openly discuss the sale because the land's value might depreciate.

After the full payment in September 2005, MA and YY signed an agreement. Records show that YY signed on behalf of a Cyprus-based real estate firm identified as Golden Wheel Developers.

MA told prosecutors that the property transfer was continuously delayed, and the three eventually became unreachable.

In July 2008, MA approached Nakheel and discovered that the deal was bogus.

"I enquired about the land deal in Nakheel's offices and I was informed officially that their contract with the German couple and the Briton was just an MOU that was invalidated by them," he said.

The court will issue its verdict on August 23.

amustafa@thenational.ae