x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dh300m on students who never were

Ministry of Higher Education employee accused of purchasing airline tickets for non-existing students.

ABU DHABI // A Ministry of Higher Education employee embezzled more than Dh300 million by ordering air tickets for imaginary students, a court heard yesterday.

The employee, who has evaded arrest, is accused of preparing purchasing requests for 428 airline tickets between March last year and June this year, through a travel company that is being tried with him as an accomplice.

The names used were of non-existing students, and real ones on foreign scholarships who had not requested flights.

The wife of the ministry employee is also being tried for illegally receiving a portion of the money, a charge she has denied.

Two members of the company, which was not named, and the wife stood before the Criminal Court of First Instance yesterday.

The two employees denied any connection to the crime. The company manager said he started work there after the defendant began to send the applications, and did not know they were forged.

His colleague said the applications did not raise suspicion as they were official and had all of the required stamps.

The case has been adjourned until January 8 to provide more time for the defence to prepare.

At the start of the hearing, Chief Justice Sayed Abdul Baseer, head of the Criminal Court of First Instance, stepped down from the trial because he has connections with the company, from which he buys his air tickets. Judge Abdulhameed Al Shamekh took over.