x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Damac to contest chairman's corruption conviction

Damac Properties will fight the conviction of its chairman on corruption charges by filing a case with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Damac said Egypt's public prosecutor had filed
Damac said Egypt's public prosecutor had filed "spurious charges" against Hussain Sajwani. Pawan Singh / The National

Damac Properties, one of Dubai's largest developers, said it would fight the conviction of its chairman on corruption charges by filing a case with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (Icsid).

The company said Egypt's public prosecutor had filed "spurious charges" against Hussain Sajwani on the basis of a 2006 deal to buy 3,000 hectares of land in Gamsha Bay near the Red Sea with the former tourism minister Zuhair Garranah.

Mr Garranah, Mr Sajwani and another businessman, Hisham Al Hazeq, were sentenced by an Egyptian court on Monday. Mr Sajwani was sentenced to five years imprisonment, fined 242 million Egyptian pounds (Dh149.6m), and ordered to return lands to the Egyptian government. Mr Sajwani was convicted "in absentia" because he was not present for the trial in Egypt.

"As the prosecution and conviction of Mr. Sajwani were totally improper, the sentence, fine, order to return the Gamsha Bay land to the State and Interpol arrest request constitute a breach of the bilateral investment treaty between Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, whose purpose is to protect investments of UAE investors in Egypt," the company said in a statement yesterday evening.

The trial was the latest in a string of corruption cases in Egypt that came in the wake of the popular protests that began on January 25th and led to the resignation of Hosni Mubarak as president in March. Hundreds of charges have been filed against politicians and businessmen.

bhope@thenational.ae