x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Woman who embezzled Dh297m ordered to pay double, jailed for three years

The former head of risk management at the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority has been found guilty of awarding contracts worth Dh297m to her own company and taking kickbacks.

ABU DHABI // The former head of risk management at the electricity and water regulator has been sentenced to three years in jail for embezzling almost Dh300m. She will have to repay the money, and a fine of the same amount.

MGH, an Emirati woman, was found guilty of forgery and acquiring illicit profits for herself and others through her position at the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (Adwea).

The Criminal Court of First Instance found that over 10 years, she awarded contracts worth Dh297m to her own company, which provides insurance services, and took kickbacks on the contracts.

A Jordanian defendant, MI, was sentenced to three months and deportation for helping MGH forge a certificate that gave her authority to settle the contracts. He worked under her in both organisations.

Two other Jordanians, AI and MMI, and an Egyptian, TZ, were sentenced to six months and deportation for their part in the scam. All three work for two insurance companies from which MGH took kickbacks.

In a previous hearing, MGH's lawyer argued that she had been the unwitting victim of a scam.

"She was put in this position after serving the authority for more than 10 years, because she insisted on applying the authority's rules," he said.

"She had discovered violations to the health insurance receipts and she refused to transfer them ... she was pressurised many times to transfer them, which pushed her to resign twice."

He also argued that two executive members of the authority were also on the executive board of the insurance companies under question.

"So how can we say that Adwea was paying during the 10 years and the executive board did not know anything about it? Is it logical the the defendant was able to hide all the commissions?"

hdajani@thenational.ae