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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Men jailed for trying to con UAE Armed Forces out of Dh15m

Seven were on trial for their involvement in forging and cashing cheques from the Armed Forces’ bank account

Two men who tried to con the UAE Armed Forces out of more than Dh15 million will spend three years in jail each.

The Tunisian pair, aged 33 and 37, were among seven on trial for their involvement in forging and cashing cheques from the Armed Forces’ bank account worth Dh3.02m and attempting to cash a forged cheque for Dh3.4m at local banks. Prosecutors said they did not get the chance to withdraw the rest of the Dh15m before being arrested.

Dubai Criminal Court convicted three other defendants – a Bangladeshi and German, both aged 42, and a 35-year-old Egyptian - of aiding and abetting the Tunisians by providing them with their companies’ bank details so the cheques could be withdrawn in their companies’ names in return for between 5 to 10 per cent of the total amount.

The three men were also convicted of possessing the illegally obtained money despite knowing its source and were sentenced to two years in jail each.

A sixth defendant, also Tunisian, 51, was cleared of hiding three of the other defendants while they were wanted by authorities.

“I didn’t hide them in my flat, it’s the opposite - I was a guest at their apartment,” the 51-year-old man told the court.

A 38-year-old Bangladeshi was also cleared of refraining to report the crime to authorities after he became aware of it.

The incident came to light on January 31, one day after the 33-year-old Tunisian deposited Dh3.8m into his account.

“The Tunisian deposited a cheque on January 30 via the machine, and as per procedure we sent a copy of the cheque to the local bank where the Armed Forces account is, then they sent us the approval, after which he withdrew Dh200,000 on January 31 and another man withdrew Dh1.15m the same day,” said an Emirati bank manager, 45.

The defendants deposited two more cheques that day but later that same day, the Armed Forces’ bank sent a letter to say that the cheques were all forgeries.

The bank manager said the defendants’ accounts were then immediately suspended.

“One cheque with Dh3.7m was deposited into our bank in an account for the Egyptian defendant on January 31 and it was approved, after which he withdrew Dh450,000 and, when he tried to take one million, it was denied by the ATM as the cash was not available,” said a Jordanian manager at another bank.

He said that the next day they received a letter that the cheque was forged.

Police arrested two of the defendants between January 31 and February 2. Three others were arrested in a flat in Oud Metha, Dubai, on February 8. Another defendant was arrested in Oman on February 11 after fleeing the country and the last was arrested on February 24. Police found Dh168,335 in their possession and ATM receipts.

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