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Archive for November 9th, 2009

Dubai a legal system on trial

Posted by 7starsdubai on November 9, 2009


Dubai , Aug 07, 2009

Dubai legal System in questions

Dubai legal System in questions

Charles Ridley, a Bahrain-based British businessman, is facing trial in the Dubai court system. He is one of seven people accused of defrauding Dubai Islamic BankDubai Islamic BankLoading… of more than $500m, charges which he denies.

However, Mr Ridley, standing in white prisoner’s uniform in Dubai’s court of first instance, can understand proceedings only when the translator relates a direct question from the judge, or when the testimony turns to English. Even then he has to overcome the poor acoustics of the wood-panelled court.

“I need a translator so I can understand what is going on,” Mr Ridley says.

The high-profile case is one of many inching their way through the system this summer as the government’s corruption investigation leads to court cases.

The fate of Mr Ridley and other defendants has given rise to increasing calls for legal reform of the Dubai judiciary, which Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the emirate’s ruler, has criticised as outdated and inefficient.

Also the sharp economic downturn in the city has prompted an increase in financial crimes, especially default, which remains a criminal rather than civil matter in Dubai.

“We need full legal reform to update all the laws, not just commercial but also criminal,” says Habib al-Mulla, a prominent Dubai-based lawyer.

“Part of the issue is people are facing prosecution and the laws aren’t adapted to financial crimes, and the judiciary can’t handle the situation if laws are still holding us back. The problem, though, is when will it be done?”

Mr Ridley’s unheeded call for a simultaneous translator would be simple enough for the courts to satisfy, but changes to other elements of the United Arab Emirates judicial system would need approval from the federal government in Abu Dhabi, the capital.

The issue has been thrown into sharper relief by the case of Abdulsalam al-Marri, a former chief executive of Lagoons, a property development, who was held for nine months before last week being acquitted of bribery charges.

Mr Marri is one of many executives caught up in the Dubai government’s anti-corruption investigation, which was launched last year. He feels aggrieved at having spent almost a year behind bars, during which he missed the birth of his twins, and his professional reputation is shattered.

“We trust our legal system, but the procedures were not right. We can’t sit in jail and then go to court,” says Mr Marri, who is likely to face an appeal from the state prosecutor.

According to lawyers who declined to be identified, one of the most important legal reforms needed in the UAE is prompt investigation and presentation of evidence against the accused.

They are also concerned about the freer rein extended to the state security services by the public prosecutor’s office, which they say is a change from a decade ago when the security services were on a tighter leash.

“The prosecution should have a maximum six months to prove their case and charge defendants,” says one senior lawyer.

In recent years, the internal security service has played a larger role in investigations of white-collar crime, especially those relating to government corruption.

Suspects detained by state security are frequently held for weeks, sometimes in solitary confinement and without access to legal or consular access, lawyers say.

Photo: Shahram Abdullah Zadeh CEO Al Fajer Properties 2008. The suit has challenged the transparency of the justice system of Dubai, which requires foreign investors to take on a UAE partner. Zadeh said he reverted to a civil action when prosecutors refused to file criminal charges against Sheikh Hasher Juma Al Maktoum and his son Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum

Photo: Shahram Abdullah Zadeh CEO Al Fajer Properties 2008. The suit has challenged the transparency of the justice system of Dubai, which requires foreign investors to take on a UAE partner. Zadeh said he reverted to a civil action when prosecutors refused to file criminal charges against Sheikh Hasher Juma Al Maktoum and his son Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum

Shahram Zadeh CEO Al Fajer Properties Dubai, a longstanding Iranian expatriate in Dubai, says he was detained for two months last year. After extensive interrogation, Mr Zadeh was released without charge but has had his passport withheld.

Since then, the Dubai authorities have refused to accept attempts by Mr Zadeh to launch criminal proceedings against members of the ruling family over the ownership of Al Fajer Properties.

Al Fajer claims Mr Zadeh stole money from the company, but the courts are hearing a $1.9bn civil law suit filed by Mr Zadeh against Sheikh Hasher bin Maktoum Al Maktoum and two of his children ( the son, Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Malktoum and his sister Sheikha Maryam Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum)  in which Mr. Zadeh claims they used the detention to seize the company illegally. He alleges that they were only sponsors and did not invest. They deny the allegation.

Sheikh Maktoum Hasher bin Juma Al Maktoum Al Fajer Properties in Dubai. Appointed by his father Sheikh Hasher Maktoum Juma Al Maktoum Mid March 2008 to the President of Al Fajer Properties

Sheikh Maktoum Hasher bin Juma Al Maktoum Al Fajer Properties in Dubai. Appointed by his father Sheikh Hasher Maktoum Juma Al Maktoum Mid March 2008 to the President of Al Fajer Properties

Lawyers say defendants should be allowed to have a legal representative present when they are being questioned, and police should stop sitting in on the weekly conversations lawyers are permitted to have with detained clients in the run-up to and during court hearings.

The public prosecution’s file of evidence should also be made available if suspects are detained for long periods before being charged and tried, the lawyers say.

Changes to the commercial courts – especially those that deal with the collapsed real estate market – are also needed, the lawyers argue. These changes could include cheaper fees and more efficient scheduling of cases, which at present can drag on for months.

But even if the city decides to overhaul criminal and commercial procedures, the matter is federal and therefore needs to be addressed by the government based in Abu Dhabi.

“In the end, Dubai can improve efficiency on the edge, but this will still be short [of what is required] unless they get the federal umbrella to change,” says one critic.

By Simeon Kerr in Dubai
source Zawya

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Posted in Al Fajer Properties, Dubai, Dubai Fraud, Dubai Justice, Dubai Legal - Real Estate Lawsuits | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Dubai a legal system on trial

Shahram Zadeh Al Fajer Properties filed case against Sheikh Maktoum

Posted by 7starsdubai on November 9, 2009


Al Fajer Properties Dubai 2009 CEO Shahram Zadeh in Dispute with Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum

In this Gulf city-state, two things have long been untouchable: business interests and the ruling family. However, an attempt to sue a member of the family over an alleged financial swindle is a sign of how much the economic crisis has rattled business as usual here.

Shahram Abdullah Zadeh accuses the brother-in-law , Sheikh Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum, of Dubai’s emir illegally of taking over his real-estate firm Al Fajer Properties and having him detained by police to help the swindle.

Zadeh, a 37-year-old Iranian national who has lived in Dubai all his life, brought a civil case against the brother-in-law and his son Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum to get his firm Al Fajer Properties back, a rare move. Even more surprising, shrahm Zadeh tried to raise criminal charges, but that step went nowhere because prosecutors rejected it.

The case has raised questions about whether Dubai really is what it claims to be: A boomtown where international businessmen can safely invest and turn a profit; or rather, a nest of cronyism and connections where royal blood can still trump entrepreneurial effort.

Such questions were largely ignored by everyone – businessmen and politicians alike – as long as the cash was rolling in during Dubai’s stunning expansion over the past decade. But now the emirate has hit the skids in the world financial crisis.

“During the boom, Dubai’s shortcomings were glossed over, but now that the economy is struggling, it’s becoming a different story,” said Christopher Davidson, an author of two books on the United Arab Emirates and a lecturer at Durham University in Britain.

Dubai’s emir, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, led the emirate’s vast financial ambitions. But business ran far ahead of the effort to modernize legislation in what remains a traditional Arab monarchy, where the ruler and his family hold final say.

Now the government has been trying to rein in some fast-and-loose business practices. About a dozen former executives are in custody for various investigations. Some have close ties to the government, but none of those in custody are related to the ruling family.

Zadeh’s case goes farther – breaking to taboo of questioning Dubai’s leadership. Zadeh says he’s a victim of a system in which the rulers can manipulate police and the courts to protect their business.

“If Dubai cannot provide security for foreign investors, they might as well switch off all the lights,” he said.

Attempts over the past weeks by The Associated Press to contact the brother-in-law, Sheikh Hasher Maktoum bin Juma’a Al Maktoum, were unsuccessful. Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoumand his company attorneys did not return repeated phone calls or respond to interview requests.

In the first session of Zadeh’s civil case, Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum and his lawyers failed to appear. In the second a week ago, his lawyer asked the court for more time to study the allegations. The case is to resume May 4.

Zadeh and the Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Al Maktoum went into business in 2004. Foreigners are allowed to deal in property only after finding an Emirati sponsor to officially register a company. The usual practice is for the Emirati sponsor to give his signature for an annual fee or profit share. Several members of the sprawling ruling family are involved in such deals.

Zadeh set up a firm, Al Fajer Properties, and was chief executive while Sheikh  Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum held the trade license. The firm was profitable and is now worth about $2 billion, according to Zadeh. But the partnership soured over delays in building a commercial tower, Juemirah Business Centre.

Zadeh said in an affidavit to Dubai’s attorney general that he was arrested in February 2008 and held for 60 days. He says he was never charged with any crime but was questioned over his business – including the combination of his safe.

While Zadeh was in detention, Sheikh Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum took over the company Al Fajer Properties by appointing his son Sheik Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum as chief executive, ousting Zadeh, according to Zadeh’s filing. When he was released, Zadeh says he found his office safe had been cleaned of documents showing he was the owner of Al Fajer Properties and Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoums partner.

Zadeh also says police tried to push him to sign a document saying he had no connection to Al Fajer Properties. He submitted to the court

Al Fajer documents listing him as CEO and transactions that his lawyers contend show he was the sole investor. The Associated Press was given a copy.

Sheikh Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum  “thought he could do it all because he’s a Sheik,” Zadeh said.

Police refused to comment on whether Zadeh was detained. Shahram Zadeh says they continue to hold his passport and so far he has had little luck pushing his claims.

He submitted a criminal complaint but the attorney general refused to investigate, giving no reason.

Zadeh then filed a complaint directly to Dubai’s emir, who holds what is called the Ruler’s Court. Residents can bring to the emir what they believe are injustices unaddressed by the courts – from disputes over money to wrongful deaths.

Zadeh says he has received no response.

see also: Terahn Times

More: Al Fajer Properties DubaiJumeirah Business CentreEbony Ivory Towers Dubai

Posted in Al Fajer Properties, Dubai, Dubai Fraud, Dubai Justice, Dubai Police, Jumeirah Business Centre, Shahram Abdullah Zadeh, Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Juma Al Maktoum-2 | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Shahram Zadeh Al Fajer Properties filed case against Sheikh Maktoum

 
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