x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Dubai World hired private detectives to track down alleged embezzler

Michael Bryan Smith was brought to Dubai from Thailand last week.

Michael Bryan Smith of England, arrives at the criminal court Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010, in Bangkok, Thailand. The court was in session to rule on a request by the United Arab Emirates to extradite Smith for allegedly embezzling US $150 million from a UAE company. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit) *** Local Caption *** SL102_Thailand_British_Extradite.jpg
Michael Bryan Smith of England, arrives at the criminal court Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010, in Bangkok, Thailand. The court was in session to rule on a request by the United Arab Emirates to extradite Smith for allegedly embezzling US $150 million from a UAE company. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit) *** Local Caption *** SL102_Thailand_British_Extradite.jpg

DUBAI // Dubai World hired an international private investigation company two years ago to track down Michael Bryan Smith, an employee-turned fugitive accused of embezzlement, the company's anti-fraud department revealed yesterday.

The 44-year-old Briton was last week extradited from Thailand to Dubai on charges that he embezzled more than Dh2million from Dubai World property developer Limitless.

"After we locally registered a case against Michael Bryan Smith in 2008, we discovered that he had left the country," said Abdel Qader Obaid, director of the internal audit department at Dubai World. "We employed global investigations companies that located him in Bangkok and apprehended him after an Interpol red notice was issued for him."

At the time of Mr Smith's arrest, in May 2009, Thai police said that he had spent eight months on the run, travelling to Vietnam, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Thailand before being arrested at Bangkok's red-light district of Nana.

Yesterday, Dubai World thanked everyone who was involved in the case.

"The members of the anti-fraud department have been doing an exceptional job in the past four years in apprehending and investigating frauds in the company and have presented a positive image of UAE ingenuity," said Mr Obaid.

The anti-fraud department was established in 2008 to investigate fraud and embezzlement within the Dubai World conglomerate. The department's mandate was to perform internal investigations and decide whether to transfer the cases to judicial authorities or to handle them administratively.

Mr Smith was turned over to UAE authorities on June 7, according to the department.

He had been pursued internationally since 2008 for his alleged embezzlement of salaries while working as a personnel manager at the Dubai World property company. In February 2010 a Thai court granted the UAE Government the right to extradite Mr Smith.

The decision was appealed but upheld by a high court in last March. Mr Smith was held in a Thai prison for two years during his extradition trials.

Records handed to the Thai authorities show that the Dubai Public Prosecution may lay charges of forgery, betrayal of trust and the illegal possession of public funds.

amustafa@thenational.ae