x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Inquiry turns to bad cheques

An Emirati businessman who has been accused of defrauding depositors out of Dh847 million in a bogus investment portfolio has been charged with issuing two cheques that bounced for insufficient funds.

DUBAI // An Emirati businessman who has been accused of defrauding depositors out of Dh847 million (US$230m) in a bogus investment portfolio appeared yesterday before the Dubai Misdemeanours Court and was charged with issuing two cheques that bounced for insufficient funds. Abid al Boom, who prosecutors say defrauded 3,500 depositors, remains in custody while an investigation continues. He appeared calm in the dock yesterday while his lawyer asked for a verdict of not guilty. The defence argued that the cheques bounced because Mr al Boom's accounts had been frozen by prosecutors.

"In truth, Mr al Boom has many bounced-cheque cases against him," said Salem al Shaali, the defence lawyer, "but we are confident the judge will find him not guilty as he had no intention of bouncing any cheques. The reason they bounced is because his bank accounts were frozen." One cheque, for Dh330,196 (US$89,971) drawn on Dubai National Bank, was intended as partial payment for a Bentley Continental car that Mr al Boom purchased for Dh850,000 in June 2006, the court was told.

The Dubai Attorney General, Essam Eisa Humaidan, ordered Mr al Boom's arrest in the fraud case along with eight others in July 2008. Among the others arrested were Mr al Boom's African business partner, an Emirati business partner and his brother Khalid. Mr Humaidan ordered the closure of the offices of Al Boom Holdings, and Abid al Boom Management and Development Properties, the suspension of trading in shares owned by the accused and the freezing of all assets belonging to them, including any real estate and bank accounts, to secure investors' rights.

Yousef Foulaz, chief prosecutor for Deira First District, said in August that the assets that were seized by prosecutors barely covered 15 per cent of the money owed to depositors. hbathish@thenational.ae