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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Former Deyaar chief jailed in Dubai over Dh20m bribery case

Building company executive Zack Shahin gets 10 years inside while three convicted of aiding Dh20m crime have absconded.

DUBAI // Zack Shahin, the former Deyaar chief executive who was charged with earning Dh20 million by misusing his powers in a bidding process, was jailed for 10 years on Wednesday.

The American boss of the housing developer was sentenced to 15 years in March last year for approving bids from a company called Thermo in return for the vast amount.

But Dubai Court of Appeal acquitted him, only for that verdict to be overturned by the Court of Cassation, which in March this year ordered that the case be returned to the appeal court for hearing before a new panel of judges, which on Wednesday ruled that he should be jailed.

The panel convicted the 48-year-old of approving bids that were higher in price than others in return for a bribe, which caused damages to Deyaar between 2004 and 2007.

He has been incarcerated since March 2008 and the time served will be taken from his sentence.

Three others were convicted on charges of taking Dh10m in bribes and aiding and abetting Shahin. They are all at large.

The trio are Argentinian K M, 64, who worked at Ambyance Technologies, Canadian project manager at Thermo, F L, and Briton A S, who was the director general at Thermo, a mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering company.

Each of them was sentenced to 10 years in prison and all four defendants were jointly fined Dh30m and ordered to repay the same amount to the companies they defrauded.

F L and A S were separately convicted of embezzling Dh500,000 each from Thermo. Dubai Criminal Court found them guilty and jointly fined them Dh500,000 and ordered them to repay the money.

However, the four were acquitted on a separate charge of forging and using bills.

All of the defendants had appealed and won their cases before facing a retrial at the appeals court. After Wednesday’s verdict, all face deportation after completing their sentences.

However, the court acquitted all of them from a charge of causing deliberate damages to Deyaar.

Shahin and K M were both granted bail in July 2011. Shahin tried to flee but was arrested in Yemen, while K M disappeared.

D K, a projects evaluation manager at Thermo, said that the offers for the bids were prepared by A S and F L before they were sent to Shahin at Deyaar.

A S had instructed all the senior employees at Thermo to not communicate directly with Deyaar, leaving communication to go exclusively through him and F L. D K said Thermo won three bids from Deyaar, the first in June 2005 for U1 and U2 towers in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, valued at Dh71.2m.

The second was in February 2006, for a tower in Business Bay valued at Dh76.126m and the last was in December 2006 for Metro Police Tower in Business Bay, a contract that was worth Dh55.775m.

The director of the Financial Audit Department, M M, said that while auditing the company records and the bank accounts of the defendants, he a total of Dh30.5m had been transferred to the defendants’ accounts.

He also said he found that cheques were issued to cover Shahin’s financial obligations, as well as money transfers to overseas accounts.

salamir@thenational.ae