x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Thaksin's Dubai lawyer has jail sentence upheld

An Appeals Court upholds a three-year jail term against a prominent lawyer involved with Thaksin Shinawatra during a deal to sell the Manchester City Football Club to Abu Dhabi.

DUBAI // A prominent Emirati lawyer cleared of embezzling £60  million (Dh341m) from Thaksin Shinawatra during a deal to sell Manchester City Football Club to Abu Dhabi had his three-year jail term for a breach of trust upheld by the Appeals Court yesterday.

K?M, 45, a partner in a well-known Dubai law firm, was accused of embezzling the former prime minister of Thailand’s money through an escrow, or type of third party, account the law firm controlled in 2008.

The embezzlement was alleged to have taken place between September 18 and October 27, 2009.

When he appeared at the Dubai Misdemeanours Court in March 2011, K?M, 45, denied the breach of trust charges and additional charges of embezzlement, attempted fraud and forgery.

He was found guilty only of breach of trust.

This verdict was upheld by the Appeals Court yesterday.

According to the charges sheet, the lawyer, as the legal representative of Mr Thaksin in a deal to sell Manchester City, was accused of embezzling £60m out of £150m deposited into an escrow account.

Prosecutors also accused the lawyer of embezzling £15m after Mr Thaksin asked him to receive a money transfer on his behalf and deposit it in a bank in Montenegro in his name.

Records show that the lawyer convinced Mr Thaksin to keep the amount of the transfer in the law firm’s bank account to avoid political pressure. Prosecutors said the lawyer later deposited the amount in his own bank account.

However, the Appeals Court upheld the decision of the Misdemeanour Court to clear the lawyer of embezzlement and also to acquit him on charges that he took Dh39,495,926 to buy an Emirates Hills villa, pay the agent and pay charges made by his own law firm.

Prosecutors said that these funds were taken from the proceeds of the football club’s sale.

The lawyer was also acquitted of forging a transfer application and a disclaimer which he allegedly signed impersonating authorised executives at international firms.

The lawyer was accused of using these documents in an attempt to take over a Bombardier Global XRS Aircraft worth US$48m (Dh176m).

He requested that the aircraft be registered to World White Investment Corporation, which according to records, is owned by him.

“I am a military justice chief and have a clean record and by God’s grace it will remain clean,” K?M said.

He insisted that he kept all the money safe in his account and did not take a dirham.

“I kept them safe your honour. I did not breach trust, I honoured that trust,” he said.

His defence lawyers argued that Mr Thaksin had no legal standing in the case because he was not the law firm’s original client.

“Our client was UK Sports, not the claimant,” the lawyer said.