x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Principal cleared on appeal of embezzling Dh100m

Found not guilty of using fake stamp to double salaries.

ABU DHABI // A school principal and her staff have been cleared on appeal of embezzling Dh100 million by using a fake stamp to double teachers' salaries.

But a Palestinian notary public, KHA, was given a three-month suspended sentence for falsifying documents.

YI, the Lebanese principal of Al Worood School, was accused of having signed documents that required the school's owner to be present when he was not.

She argued the owner gave her power of attorney in 2003. If she had wanted to use it for nefarious purposes, YI said, "why wait until now?"

She claimed the case arose from a grudge held by the owner's wife, because she was running the school while the owner was receiving medical treatment in Germany.

And she said there were other parties against whom a stronger claim could have been made. "They were picking who to sue," YI said.

She denied doubling teachers' salaries. "I made about Dh20m in annual profits for the school after I took over. Why would I need to forge documents?" YI asked.

"How would I have benefited from forging labour documents? I could have used the power of attorney to withdraw large amounts of money and leave."

YI and the other charged employees - JQ, a Palestinian Arabic teacher; AM, a physics teacher; and TH, an Egyptian school administrator - lost their jobs and were free on bail.

KHA was convicted of notarising the documents despite knowing they were signed under false pretences.

He admitted he had stamped the documents without examining them carefully because he was busy training people.

"I always tell my trainees that such documents are silly. Excuse me for using that word, but they are really insignificant," KHA told the appeal court judges.

"So when they handed me those documents, I stamped them without careful examination."

All five had been convicted of forgery by the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court of First Instance last February and given three-month suspended jail terms.

hdajani@thenational.ae