x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Two jailed for trying to sell distinctive phone numbers

Men accused of using Etisalat access to sell "distinctive" numbers for thousands of dirhams.

ABU DHABI // A former Etisalat employee who attempted to sell distinctive telephone numbers – including some belonging to ruling family members – in return for a bribe was sentenced yesterday to six months in prison.

I?R, a Palestinian who worked for Etisalat at a booth in Marina Mall, was convicted in the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court of First Instance of corruption and accepting a bribe. He was ordered to pay a fine equal to the bribe, Dh35,000.

M?S, a Yemeni who paid the bribe, was also sentenced to six months in prison. Both will be deported after serving their sentences.

Customers are often willing to pay large sums for double or repetitive telephone numbers – similar, for example, to distinctive licence plates that are also in high demand.

Defence lawyers claimed the case was not serious because Etisalat would have discovered the crime when the original holders of the numbers contacted them.

Some of the numbers I?R offered to M?S belonged to members of the ruling families of Ajman and Ras al Khaimah.

M?S’s lawyer, Faiza Moussa, said that he had acquired the numbers legally and did not intend to sell them. She said I?R told M?S he had unique numbers, which M?S then purchased.

I?R admitted providing M?S with the numbers, but said he reported the matter when he realised it was a serious offence.