x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Jailed politician's bid to clear name

The Dubai Misdemeanours Appeal Court has set a date to hear the case of a former UAE minister of state sentenced to two years in prison.

DUBAI // A former UAE minister of state sentenced last month to two years in prison for unlawfully taking possession of an IT company belonging to his late Lebanese business partner's heirs appeared before the Dubai Misdemeanours Appeal Court yesterday. The presiding Appeal Court judge, Mahmoud Fahmi, decided to step down from hearing the case and referred it instead to Judge Mustafa al Shinawi who will hear the case on April 2. No reason was given by the judge for his decision.

The former minister, KF, the IT company's manager SH, a US citizen of Arab descent, and the company's Indian finance director, BN, were convicted on Feb 23 by the Dubai Misdemeanours Court of taking possession of a company and property belonging to others. A fourth defendant, the former minister's son, MB, was found not guilty. SH and BN were also sentenced to two years in prison and were ordered to be deported after serving their sentences. All three appealed against their convictions on Feb 25. The prosecution also appealed the not guilty verdict passed by the misdemeanours court on MB. The minister, relieved of his Cabinet post last year, claimed to own 51 per cent of a company owned by a Lebanese businessman, HJ. The plaintiff, the late businessman's sister MJ, claimed she was tricked into believing that KF was an actual partner in her late brother's business.

In reality, KF was only acting as the Emirati sponsor for HJ and received an annual stipend of Dh600,000 (US$163,000) for affixing his signature to the trade licence. The former minister, MJ's lawyers argued, was only a partner on paper and had no actual stake in the company. hbathish@thenational.ae