x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Former minister of state 'legitimate partner' says lawyer

Former minister of state, charged with betrayal of trust and deception, was a full and legitimate partner of the company, his lawyer tells court.

DUBAI // A former minister of state, charged with betrayal of trust and deception over the division of a business after the death of his associate, was a full and legitimate partner of the company, his lawyer argued yesterday. The plaintiff, a sister of the late Lebanese business owner, claims she signed a settlement agreement with the former minister in 2005 after her brother's death, based on his claim to own 51 per cent of her brother's business, which she asserts was not true.

The sister, MJ, had presented the court with a signed document from her late brother's home safe, dated 1998, which said the former minister was merely a salaried employee, paid Dh600,000 (US$163,345) a year for signing the company's trade licence as a sponsor. But the former minister's lawyer, Sameer Ja'afar, in his closing arguments, told the Dubai Misdemeanours Court that his client did own 51 per cent of the company, and that the plaintiff's document did not negate the original partnership agreement.

"The text of the document presented by the plaintiff did not employ the required legal language to negate the original partnership agreement. Such a document needs to show the partners' clear intent to dissolve the original partnership agreement, which this document did not," Mr Ja'afar said. The former minister was even referred to as a partner in the business in several sections of the document, he said. In response to another accusation, that the former minister concealed property belonging to his associate from MJ, Mr Ja'afar said the building in question was registered on the company books as belonging to the associate's printing business.

He said while the company paid for the construction of the building, it was listed in the company balance sheet in the liabilities column. The court adjourned the case until Feb 9 to hear the closing arguments for the remaining three defendants charged in the case: the company's Arab-American manager, its Indian financial controller and the former minister's son. According to the terms of the settlement agreement, MJ and her brother's heirs gained control of the company's operations and projects abroad, while the former minister gained control of the company's substantial UAE operations and projects. hbathis@thenational.ae