x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Sentence increased for accountant for 24 forgery charges

A woman who has sentenced to three months in prison for 24 forgery charges has had her sentence increased to a year by the Dubai Court of Appeals.

DUBAI // An accountant who shed tears of joy when sentenced to three months in prison for 24 forgery charges has had her sentence increased to a year.

MA, a 33-year-old Tunisian, was sentenced to a few months in prison by Dubai Criminal Court in April, but today her jail time was increased by the Dubai Court of Appeal.

The court did not disclose its reason for increasing the sentence.

MA was found guilty of tampering with cheques to embezzle Dh300,000 in cash, although her employer, EA, claims the final amount stolen was more than double that.

EA, a 44-year-old Emirati, said he first found out about the scam when he received a phone call from a bank in Umm Al Quwain last May, querying a cheque he had written for Dh149,874.

"They told me a cheque was submitted for the withdrawal of Dh149,874, but I only wrote a cheque for Dh49,874," he told prosecutors.

He immediately called MA to ask what was going on, and she claimed she had written in an extra number by mistake.

EA said he hired MA as head accountant at the end of 2009 and often wrote cheques payable to her so she could withdraw money and distribute it for various expenses.

Prosecutors said MA had added digits to cheques between 2009 and 2011, including the number four to a cheque for Dh1,000 to make it worth Dh41,000, and the number one to another, changing the amount from Dh49,874 to Dh149,874.

After the incident at the bank, EA said: "One of my employees then called me and showed me cheques on which my signature was forged".

RR, a general accountant at the same company, testified MA had told him she used the money to pay off a debt she had back in Tunisia.

EA told prosecutors MA had embezzled more than Dh600,000 and not Dh300,000 as stated in records.

The crime affected his business so badly, he said he was eventually forced to let a number of employees go and terminate contracts with some clients.

MA denied all charges. "The prosecutors told me to confess," she told the court in March.

salamir@thenational.ae