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Posts Tagged ‘Dubai Police and the Courts’

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reform of the Dubai judiciary, which Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the emirate’s ruler, has criticised as outdated and inefficient.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

Escape from Dubai – Washington Post – Herve Jaubert fled last Summer

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 20, 2009

Escape from Dubai , Hervet Jaubert

Escape from Dubai , Hervet Jaubert

source Washington Post

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Herve Jaubert, a French spy who left espionage to make leisure submarines for the wealthy, was riding high.

Bankrolled by Dubai World, a government-owned conglomerate, he built a submarine workshop on the Persian Gulf, lived rent-free in a villa with a pool and tooled around town in a red Lamborghini. He had two Hummers. He vacationed with local plutocrats.

Jaubert said he heard whispers about Dubai’s darker side — the abuse of desperate laborers from impoverished Asian lands, the jailing of the occasional Westerner who crossed a sheik — but “I brushed it all off. I saw glamour. I saw marble columns, mirrors and money.”

Today, the former intelligence operative, who fled Dubai last summer in a rubber dinghy, is a wanted man. In June, a Dubai court convicted him in absentia on charges of embezzling $3.8 million and handed down a five-year sentence, plus a big fine. Jaubert, speaking recently at his new home near West Palm Beach, Fla., said he stole nothing and vowed never to set foot in Dubai again. He said he fled because of gruesome threats by interrogators to stick needles up his nose and what he described as constantly shifting, and all bogus, accusations relating to bullets, murder and the finances of Dubai World’s now-defunct luxury submarine subsidiary.

“If I hadn’t escaped, I’d be in the same hell as everyone else,” said Jaubert, one of scores of expatriate business people in this gleaming city-state who have been accused of crimes — and, in some cases, jailed for long periods without being charged.

Jaubert’s troubles began two years ago when Dubai’s then-booming economy was showing the first faint signs of strain. Local stock and property prices have since swooned, and the tempo of arrests for alleged business misdeeds ranging from a dud check — a criminal offense here — to serious fraud has picked up sharply.

Dubai’s government declined to comment on Jaubert’s allegations of mistreatment. But it has targeted what it sees as dodgy dealmakers and deadbeat debtors, and has declared “no tolerance” of “anybody who makes illegal profits.” For many expatriates, however, the crackdown smacks of a hunt for foreign culprits to blame for the sheikdom’s sliding economic fortunes.

‘It’s All a Bit Scary’

A haven of stability in a region of tumult, Dubai is usually a place people flee to, not from. Foreigners, lured by what President Obama in a June speech in Cairo hailed as the “astonishing progress” of this autocratic but vibrant Persian Gulf metropolis, account for more than 90 percent of the population, and 99 percent of private-sector workers.

But a severe economic slump has reversed the flow. Those who came to Dubai seeking fortunes in property, banking and luxury goodies for the rich now face a less alluring prospect — a prison cell or furtive flight. Only a tiny minority has been picked up by police but, says a longtime foreign resident who runs a company here, “It’s all a bit scary. They are looking for people to carry the can.” The foreign resident, who requested anonymity in order to speak freely, said a British neighbor was picked up last year.

The turbulence is a blow to a place that promoted itself as the Middle East’s answer to Hong Kong or Singapore. It is also a setback for Washington, which has for years touted Dubai as a model of a modern, prosperous Muslim land that, though far from democratic, seemed anchored in the rule of law and committed to basic rights.

Among those who have been locked up are a JPMorgan investment banker; American, British and other foreign property developers; a German yachtmaker; and two Australians who worked as senior executives of what was to be the world’s largest waterfront development. The gigantic project had been launched by Nakheel, the crisis-battered property arm of Dubai World and builder of Dubai’s signature palm-tree-shaped resort islands.

A few have been convicted, mostly for bouncing checks. Those still awaiting trial often waited many months in jail before being charged: The two Australians, for instance, were arrested in January, held in solitary confinement for seven weeks and then finally charged, with fraud-related offences, last month, said their Melbourne lawyer, Martin Amad.

A banker who headed JPMorgan’s Dubai office and its Islamic banking business was first jailed in June last year but was charged, also in connection with fraud, only this spring. JPMorgan said the alleged crimes do not relate to his work at the bank, which he joined in 2007 and quit in April this year while in detention.

Some have complained through lawyers of being deprived of sleep, denied food for days and routinely menaced. “We will insert needles into your nose again and again,” a security officer can be heard telling Jaubert, the spy turned submarine-maker, on an audio recording, which the Frenchman said was made on his cellphone during an interrogation before he fled. “Do you know how painful it is to have needles put inside your nose repeatedly and then twisted around? Do you think you can resist this kind of pain?”

Jaubert said the interrogation was conducted by two men in long white robes in a bare, windowless room on April 22, 2007, at Dubai’s Al Muraggabat Police Station. On the recording, the interrogators described themselves as state security officers, with one warning Jaubert that “we are above the police, we are above the judges. We can keep here you forever.”

Dubai’s Media Affairs Office said the emirate “prides itself on a well-established system of law and order and judicial fairness.” It did not respond to repeated and detailed questions, and said that officials who could “are physically not here.”

A Developing Chill

Released unharmed but without his passport, Jaubert, who is married to an American, began to plot his escape. Last summer, four years after he arrived Dubai on a business-class ticket, he slipped away by sea. “They picked the wrong guy,” said Jaubert, 53, a former naval officer who, according to a confidential French report, left France’s DGSE intelligence service in March 1993. “With my background, I don’t need a passport to travel.”

The French Consulate in Dubai, which is the business, business and tourism hub of the United Arab Emirates, said it could not comment. France in May opened a naval facility in Dubai’s sister sheikhdom, Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital. Western diplomatic missions have mostly avoided public criticism of the legal system.

Dubai is still far more free and more predictable than most of its neighbors, but a chill has taken hold as property values tumble, jobs vanish and businessmen are detained. Tensions long masked by prosperity have burst into full view — tensions between a foreign majority and locals, known as Emirati; between a city studded with shiny modern skyscrapers, including the world’s tallest now in the final stages of construction; and Dubai’s antiquated political and legal foundations.

Washington counts the UAE as one of its best friends in the region. U.S. warships dock at Jebel Ali, a huge Dubai port area where Jaubert had his luxury submarine venture, Exomos, which promised rich clients “the ultimate underwater experience.” Big U.S. companies, including General Electric, Boeing and Microsoft, have their regional headquarters in Dubai, which has around 20,000 American residents.

These intimate relations include a deal that will allow the UAE to develop a nuclear-power program with U.S. know-how. The relationship came under scrutiny in Washington this year after the release of videos that showed a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family torturing an Afghan grain dealer he accused of cheating him. Abu Dhabi authorities are investigating.

The number of expatriates jailed in Dubai for alleged economic crimes is not known. The government issues no figures. “All I can say is that it is definitely on the rise,” said Samer Muscati, a lawyer with New York-based Human Rights Watch. The main concern, Muscati said, is not that all those arrested are necessarily innocent but that Dubai’s legal system is so opaque, fickle and often heedless of due process.

A vivid example of this is the plight of Zack Shahin, an American businessman of Lebanese origin. A former Pepsi-Cola executive who headed a Dubai property company called Deyaar Development, he was arrested in March last year in connection with a corruption probe involving the Dubai Islamic Bank. Shahin was held incommunicado for 16 days and was not charged for over a year. A Web site set up by his family in the United States alleged that Shahin had been tortured, and it pleaded for his release. The UAE blocked the Web site. U.S. diplomats asked that the case be handled in “an expeditious and transparent manner,” and complained that a delay in granting access to Shahin violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

Early this summer, it looked as if Shahin might finally get his day in court and be allowed to go home to await trial. His family took out an ad praising Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Dubai’s ruler, took down the Web site, and scratched together $1.1 million to meet bail. Just as Shahin was about to be released, state security officers arrived and hauled him away for questioning on new charges. He is still in detention. The bail money has not been returned, his lawyers said. Dubai officials said no one was available to comment on the case.

Locals have been picked up, too, and some complain of being unjustly detained. But well-connected Emirati rarely spend long in jail for economic crimes. Wary of debtors’ prison, a growing number of foreigners simply run away.

Simon Ford, a British entrepreneur, skipped town this summer after his company, a specialty gift service, was hit by the crisis and couldn’t pay its bills. He wrote an emotional “letter to the Dubai public” to apologize for bailing out. He acknowledged that he owed money, and said he had fled because Dubai “drives people to make horrible decisions.” He promised to pay back creditors.

Jaubert, the ex-French spy, said he fled because he feared getting stuck in Dubai’s penal twilight zone. A keen amateur marksman, he was first called in for questioning in 2007 after bullets were found at his submarine company offices. Interrogators told him that someone had been shot in the head and that he might be involved. Jaubert replied that he didn’t have a gun: his rifle, which he had declared at Customs, was still stuck at the Dubai airport. His bullets got through.

Security officers accused him of lying. Warning him that Dubai “is not France; there is no democracy here,” an interrogator heard on Jaubert’s tape threatened to put him “in a cave 300 meters underground, away from the world and your family, and I will keep you there until you tell the truth.” Jaubert said authorities later accused him of fraud because “they were just looking for something to nail me with.”

Jaubert blamed his woes on pressure on Dubai World to rein in some of the wilder investment projects launched by Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, the company’s chairman, who had first invited Jaubert to Dubai. “It was a palace struggle over money,” Jaubert said.

The Escape

Reached on his cellphone, Sulayem declined to comment. Dubai World’s internal audit chief, Abdul Qadar Obaid Ali, said Jaubert and his submarine venture ran into trouble for other reasons: His submarines didn’t work, and auditors uncovered evidence of fraud involving overbilling for equipment purchases. Jaubert denied this, saying all the transactions were approved and paid for by Dubai World managers.

Fired from Exomos, the submarine company, and unable to get his passport back, Jaubert hatched an elaborate escape plan. He sent his wife and their two boys to Florida. He had diving equipment shipped out from France — broken down into small bits to avoid arousing suspicion. Then, using a phony name, he bought a Zodiac dinghy and sailboat. Using Google Earth, he surveyed the UAE coastline for an escape route. He found an isolated beach and arranged for a friend to take the sailboat out into international waters.

On the eve of his escape, the former spy checked into a hotel near the beach, put on his diving equipment and donned a long abaya, the body-covering cloak worn by strictly observant Muslim women. He said he then went down the beach and swam underwater to a nearby harbor, where the only patrol boat in the vicinity was moored. He clambered aboard and sabotaged the fuel line to make sure the craft could not give chase, he said.

Jaubert then set out to sea in the dinghy to the boat his friend had positioned just outside the UAE’s territorial waters, and they sailed toward India. After eight days at sea, the pair arrived in Mumbai — an account corroborated by his traveling companion. With a new passport issued by the French consulate, Jaubert flew to join his wife in Florida, where he is writing a book he has titled “Escape From Dubai.”

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Malika Karoum finally arrested – 28 month imprisonment

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 10, 2009

malika Karoum dubai crime

While Australians languished in Dubai jails, a much bigger fish made fraudulent millions with impunity. This glamorous but treacherous spy is finally behind bars, writes Rick Feneley.

They call her the modern-day Mata Hari, a spy-turned-criminal who laundered fortunes from drug runners and arms dealers through Dubai’s high-rise wonderland.

Alternatively, they have cast Malika Karoum as an innocent woman, a fugitive not from the law but from an abusive husband who maliciously defamed her – and concocted the whole spy-crime thriller – as part of a bitter custody battle for their young son.

The Netherlands media have been wrestling over the two Karoums for a year. The 33-year-old Dutch-Moroccan’s exotic good looks made great fodder for magazines, newspapers and tabloid television. But on Wednesday this week came the bombshell. The cover story of Revu, a quality weekly magazine, announced: ”Spy Malika in the cell.”

Only now could it reveal that Karoum had been in jail for the past six months in Egypt, where the Ismailiya State Security Court convicted her in April of money laundering and involvement in weapons trading, but acquitted her of espionage.

Karoum, who had also performed intelligence work for Egypt, had been sentenced to 28 months in prison, and the Court of Appeal had upheld the decision last month.

More sensational, though, is the news of how Karoum was caught. In a top-secret operation, her former colleagues from the Dutch secret service arrived at her Dubai apartment at 2am on January 21. They held her there for several weeks under house arrest before taking her to Egypt, an intelligence source has told Revu’s reporter Jan Libbenga. Dubai has no extradition treaty with the Netherlands. The Dutch, in effect, abducted Karoum only after negotiations with her lawyers, to bring her back to Amsterdam, broke down.

Four days after the swoop on Karoum’s home, Dubai police arrested two Australians, Matt Joyce and Marcus Lee, on suspicion of fraud. The pair are former executives of Dubai Waterfront, the world’s grandest waterfront project, a subsidiary of the Emirate’s biggest property developer, the government-owned Nakheel.

The jailed Australians, who are fighting to prove their innocence, are in no way linked to Karoum.

Karoum – using her apparent cover as a real estate executive – did do some work on property developments within Dubai Waterfront, among other sites. She was accused of funnelling drug and arms money – including that of an Egyptian weapons dealer – into Dubai’s property bubble, which burst spectacularly last year. Millions invested through her by criminal networks are said to have vanished.

While Joyce and Lee and other Australians languish in Dubai’s jails, the Karoum story throws light on the way business is done in the Emirate. The sheikhdom is making a big show of cleaning up corruption in its property industry, but it showed no apparent interest in stopping Karoum. Indeed, Libbenga says, she ended up spying for the United Arab Emirates, too, and it offered her protection. She had also spied for Egypt.

Her old Dutch colleagues could well understand the analogy with the original Mata Hari, the Dutch exotic dancer Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, a seductress who became a double agent during World War I, working for both French and German spymasters.

Karoum joined the Dutch secret service in 2004, Revu says. Most of her work had concerned secret investigations of Islamic organisations in the Netherlands suspected of terrorist aid. She was sent to Dubai late in 2006 to investigate terrorist financing and money laundering to and from Dubai. Once there, she soon defected to her own cause: making money.

For her Dutch spymasters, the alarm rang in October 2007, when a Dutch-Turkish money courier was arrested at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, with more than €100,000. He said it was to be collected by Karoum. This man was not known to her spy colleagues.

The secret service contacted police. It transpired that observation teams from the Bureau of National Research had photographs of a woman in the company of Dutch drug dealers. Only then did they realise it was Karoum.

Now authorities suspect Karoum played an important role in drug trafficking, Revu reported.

Karoum had managed to slip back into the Netherlands at the time of the man’s arrest, but she escaped via Madrid and Casablanca to Dubai. She left her hire car behind, with a note to the hire company, in a garage in the town of Breukelen. Diplomatic pressure on Dubai failed to have her returned to the Netherlands.

The Herald began trying to find Karoum in early February this year. As late as April our calls were being transferred to her extension at ACI Real Estate in Dubai, the subsidiary of a German-based company. Like many caught in the Arab Emirate’s collapsing real estate market, ACI is struggling to complete grand visions such as its Sports Trilogy: the Niki Lauda Twin Towers, the Boris Becker Business Tower and Michael Schumacher Business Avenue. ACI’s switch repeatedly told the Herald that Karoum was, indeed, still working there. But messages went unanswered, as did emails to Karoum’s address with the firm, requesting a detailed response to the many allegations against her. Now we know why.

Also in February, Political News of Morocco editorialised that Karoum was giving its emigrants a bad name and asked why Dubai was doing nothing about her. Now we know that the Dutch secret service already had.

In a webcast by Panorama Magazine late last year, Karoum said the whole story against her was a lie, created by her former husband Mohammed Boulnouar. She said she had fled the Netherlands because he had mentally and physically abused her.

Jacques Smits, an Amsterdam private investigator and former policeman, has been on Karoum’s trail since January last year. He was originally employed by Boulnouar to hunt her down in Dubai and retrieve their son, Mohammed jnr, now aged about eight.

In February last year Smits flew to Dubai, hoping to confront Karoum. He had already intervened and warned her then employer, the Dubai property firm Omniyat, about Karoum. The company went on to sack Karoum and her boss for alleged fraud.

Smits only managed to get Karoum by phone. He told the Herald: ”She said, ‘I am going to kill you.’ I had ruined her life in Dubai.”

He believes she is capable of it, and this motivated his campaign to bring her to justice, long after he stopped working for her husband. A Dutch court later ordered Karoum to return her son to the Netherlands, then overturned that ruling last December.

Either way, Smits is no friend of Boulnouar, who had been a travel agent in West Amsterdam. He says Boulnouar paid him only €7000 ($12,000) and still owes him €10,000. Smits says he helped Dutch intelligence to keep pursuing Karoum.

Last November customers accused Boulnouar of stealing the money they had paid him for the haj to Mecca. He had claimed he was the victim of a robbery on October 31 when he tried to deliver about €300,000 in cash and several hundred passports to Royal Jordanian Airways. He claimed the robbers told him they were sent by ”Malika”.

Smits does not buy his story. Nor does he buy Karoum’s. In January last year Smits received a tip that she was returning to the Netherlands for a wedding. He says he went to Schiphol Airport and, armed with photographs, alerted a Dutch military police officer. The officer had called up Karoum’s Interpol file, then left the room briefly to get the print-out of the document. Smits says he was able to read the warrant on the screen. ”There were six or seven felonies.” They included money laundering and drug offences.

Dutch police observation teams had seen a woman in the company of a British man, Simon John ”Slapper” Cowmeadow. Only later did they realise she was Karoum. Cowmeadow was shot dead in an Amsterdam street on November 18, 2007.

Nadim Imac, a suspected heroin importer and the sponsor of a Dutch soccer team, Turkiyemspor, was thrown to his death from a moving bus on February 17 this year. Police found €223,000 in his home.

A player from his soccer team had acted as a money courier to Dubai, where money from a Turk associate of Imac’s was invested in Damac Properties. Karoum had handled that introduction.

Revu has reported on Karoum’s connections with the Dutch company Palm Invest, which has come under the spotlight for alleged fraud. Karoum’s old boss at Omniyat took her with him in June last year when he launched Define Properties in Dubai. Define had 12 lots on Nakheel’s Waterfront site, and relied heavily for funds on a key Karoum contact, an Egyptian arms dealer. But when stories began circulating about Karoum, the boss sacked her.

Later, Define could not raise enough capital and ACI Real Estate took over some of its properties. It first employed the Define boss, but dumped him after recruiting Karoum. ACI has not responded to the Herald’s questions.

From last December Karoum’s lawyers advised her to co-operate with Dutch authorities. Revu reported she was offered an ”ample golden handshake” from the secret service and an opportunity to start a new life in a third country. Los Angeles, Singapore, Luxembourg, Malta, Egypt and the Dutch Antilles were destinations recommended.

The Dutch, more than anything, wanted to stop her giving intelligence to other countries, and to stop her criminal pursuits.

Karoum had seemed agreeable but withdrew at the last moment. She reportedly believed she would be afforded the protection of sheikhs in Dubai. That came to nothing at 2am on January 21.

In most countries the snatching of Karoum – a breach of sovereignty – would have caused a diplomatic crisis. But there has not been a peep out of Dubai, which does not care about bad publicity.

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it could not answer any of the Herald’s questions, on privacy grounds. The names of even convicted criminals are protected in the Netherlands.

Jan Libbenga will publish a book, The Hunt for Malika, Modern Mata Hari, in October.

Jacques Smits says an estimated €19 million is still missing from Karoum’s crimes and the Dutch secret service may recruit him to help retrieve it.

”If the price is right, I’m your guy,” he told the Herald. Smits says he feels safe until Karoum’s release from jail – but only until then

source  artivle original

also source Revu

read more about Malika Karoum

interview Video Malika Karoum in Dubai

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From Sunday Times – Dubai – Construction halted, westerners jailed for adultery

Posted by 7starsdubai on July 20, 2009

source TimesOnline SundayTimes July, 2009

Andrew Blair says he will pick me up from outside my sleaze-bucket of a hotel, give it 20 minutes or so, got some work to finish off. He has a job again, contracts apparently “coming out of his ears”, which is good, because until recently he had earned a certain notoriety for not having a job and, more to the point, for the manner in which he went about finding a new one. He drove around Dubai, back in January this year, from the plug-ugly creek to the plug-ugly marina, in his white Porsche, with a sign in the back window saying he wanted a job; vroom vroom he went, gizza job. Scratch scratch scratch went the keys and coins along the side of his car whenever it was parked up.

Such conspicuous flaunting of vulgar affluence seems to me entirely appropriate for this foul city — especially when combined with an admission of desperation and hopelessness, that scrawled sign and telephone number in his rear window. Fur coat and no knickers, etc. But, unaccountably, the local expats found it all a little contemptible and the journalists — none of whom possessed Ferraris — sniggered long and loud in print, out of exquisite Schadenfreude. Just look at this idiot on his uppers, was the subtext. But the ploy worked, and Andrew is once again in gainful employment as a construction project manager, and therefore can remain in this country where they deport you if you’re skint, so who’s laughing now? Not Andrew, as it happens. The whole episode, he says, made him think, made him change his ways. Those first two years out here in this dusty and scorched semi-reclaimed desert were enormous fun: huge tax-free income, palatial apartment — “the crème de la crème” — silent or monosyllabic servants, all that sex (a city containing 8,000 air hostesses can’t be bad), the fast cars, the alcohol.

But he’s a changed man, he says; that epic, shallow, soul-destroying materialism and vulgarity now leave him cold. Being out of work for a while left him a little bruised but a better person, understanding that money and consumer durables are not everything. A changed man. Although not that changed, I notice, as the white Porsche pulls up.

“Why did you leave Britain?” I ask him, slung well below sea level in the bucket seat as we cruise the baked streets past the filthy, crumbling apartment blocks where the Bangladeshi slave labourers live or die, 10 or 12 to a room, and then into the hideous bling of downtown Dubai, a vast architectural experiment conducted by, seemingly, Albert Speer and Victoria Beckham. One skyscraper appears to be gilded in gold leaf, another looks like the birthday cake of a spoilt five-year-old brat — and all of them trying desperately to be taller, flashier, more grotesque than the one next door.

“Well, you know,” he says, in a soft Scottish burr, “I think it was the immigration more than anything else.”

“But Andrew, you’re an immigrant now…”

He looks astonished at this, as if the notion had never occurred, then says: “Yes! Ironic, I suppose. But the difference is, I’m a wanted immigrant.”

Well, up to a point, Lord Copper. Up to a point. In truth, needed more than wanted. As one local put it: “We are fed up of westerners who come here thinking they deserve an easy meal ticket. You were nothing in the West, so you came here for the houses and cars you could never get back home, you stole through taking out excessive finance that is not justified by you [sic] salaries. Then when you cannot pay you run, this is theft born out of greed and arrogance.

“Anyway despite all of this you still disrespect our cultural and religious values with your behaviour, dress and conduct in our malls and on our beaches and comments about us our race and our religion. You spend all your time critizising [sic] our laws, society and systems. Yet, you could never have the lifestyle you have here back in your system. You people are no longer welcome, please go and pollute somewhere else.”

That was the message posted by a disgruntled Emirati on an expat website recently, and, as a description of the British, South African, Australian and eastern-European workers now living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it has a certain truth about it. The Emiratis are a minority within their own country, the UAE, and an even smaller minority within Dubai, the most populous city of the UAE, where they number about 20% of the population.

On the other hand, it seems a bit rich coming from an Emirati, the inhabitant of a country that lucked into oil money about 43 years ago and is now utterly dependent on foreign labour for its current, unsustainable prosperity — the ranks of the skilled and talented working class from Europe, who come here and run their absurd, extravagant and now faltering construction projects, and the traders and the dealers.

The British expats I spoke to believed, without exception, that the Emiratis are utterly useless, corrupt and indolent, and, according to several, some British managers are leaving rather than abide by a new law that requires them to employ a certain percentage of Arabs on every job. They’re simply not up to it, they say. As it is, the locals make up less than one-fifth of the total UAE population, the westerners roughly half that amount. The majority population in Dubai is the criminally low-paid, enchained, abused, dispossessed peasantry from south Asia.

The Europeans work long hours, mind — you could not really call it an “easy meal ticket”: 12- and 14-hour days and not much in the way of holidays. But there was, until recently, an unspoken quid pro quo: listen, you soft, decadent westerners, you can have your salary income-tax-free, providing you don’t lose your job, obviously (in which case we’ll deport you and you’ll lose everything you own). You can have your big apartments, providing you don’t default on the payments when times are hard, in which case we’ll put you in prison — there ain’t no bankruptcy get-out clauses here, inshallah. Owing money to people is a crime. You can swan around in your flash cars and hang out at the malls, just as if you were in Maidstone or Cottbus or Pretoria. You can dress like you were at a stag-party pub crawl in Prague, or like an infidel whore on the make, and we’ll grit our teeth and smoke our hubba-bubba pipes and look the other way. You can even have that other stuff you seem to like so much, the relentless, enervating fornicating, the stuff Allah really dislikes; we will turn a blind eye to the legion upon legion of addled post-Soviet whores in your horrible Brit-style pubs, nightclubs and wine bars, the cheap babes from the ’stans. Just keep the money pouring in, please: keep building those gargantuan hotels and facilitating those loans for us.

But this long-standing deal may be in the process of disintegrating. The credit crunch hit Dubai badly, and it is clinging to its despised but less feckless neighbour, Abu Dhabi, for a very large bail-out. Troubled state-backed firms owe British companies more than £400m. The plush apartment complexes down at the marina are half-empty, investment has collapsed and property prices with it — house prices are down by as much as 50% and are predicted to fall by another 20%. It is almost impossible to put a precise figure on the rate of the collapse, because, according to one estate agent, there is no market. Nobody is buying, nobody is renting; there is no new business. An estimated £335 billion of projects have been halted or are on hold. And it is predicted that the population could decline by 17.1% by the end of the year, so things will not be getting better too quickly.

The depression in Dubai makes our own look like a vague afterthought, because nowhere else in the world was unregulated and unfettered capitalism and a belief in perpetually rising property prices embraced with quite so much ardour as here. And it seems, as a consequence, that since the crash the locals are in recriminatory mood: if you’re going to bring us a depression, they seem to be saying, then you can clear off and, in the meantime, behave like dignified human beings rather than dragging us down into your gutter. The sex thing has been bothering them particularly.

Mohammed is an Emirati who owns a big dive shop a hundred miles across the burning sand to the east of Dubai, at Khawr Fakkan, in the slightly more conservative province of Sharjah. Khawr Fakkan, circled by stark and beautiful mountains, is on the Gulf of Oman and there is good diving to be had, plenty of tourists. Mohammed is a divorcee and he employed young western babes and chicks to run his business, because working in a dive centre is a sort of halfway house between backpacking and the real world for a certain sort of young postgrad western chick. Roxanne Hillier worked for him: young, blonde, pretty and half South African, with an English dad called Freddie. Roxanne’s in the rather bleak Khawr Fakkan prison right now, and will be for the next few months, following an unsuccessful appeal against her sentence in late June. Would you like to hear what she did to get herself there?

It was about 2am when the old bill arrived. Mohammed had been filling up the 80 or so oxygen tanks he needed for the next morning’s dive; Roxanne had returned from the last dive of the day, helped out for a bit, then, exhausted, took a nap in an anteroom. Outside, Mohammed heard a disturbance, so he went down to check it out.

“It was local people, gathered around the door to the dive centre,” he told me. “They were angry, saying, ‘Who have you got in there? You’ve got a woman in there, haven’t you?’ I told them, ‘No, no, the dive centre is closed.’ They said to me, ‘Where is the key?’ Later the police arrived. I told them there was nobody there, but they took my key and opened the door and searched the place and that’s when they found Roxanne.” The two of them were carted off to Khawr Fakkan prison (separate cells, natch) and held on remand for a week until the case came to court. Did you have sex with Roxanne, I ask Mohammed. “No, no, no, never!” Did you kiss her? “No, of course not. It is not true. It is all a misunderstanding.”

Well, as regards the first denial, we don’t have to take Mohammed’s word for it, because the Sharjah judicial authorities were kind enough to check the whole business out for themselves. They stripped Roxanne Hillier bare and invaded her with swabs and scrapes; a little bit of Mohammed’s DNA found inside her would have hugely increased the eventual sentence. As it was, she received a sentence of three months for the crime of being alone in the same building as a man who was not her husband. She didn’t know this was the sentence, because the court proceedings were conducted in Arabic and therefore she could not put her case across, either. It was later they told her what had been decided. Mohammed got a couple of weeks on the same charge.

I take a cab to the beach, Jumeirah beach, and spend 3 minutes watching sarcomas grow on the semi-naked expats strung out across the sand under flimsy shades, E-number-flavoured Slush Puppies to hand, their eyes closed against the vicious glare, their bodies porky and immobile. It is 46C out here, unendurable — this is the country where you should never go outside. Thirty miles or so across the water is Iran, where they are probably not stripping off for the beach. Behind the beach is a dusty freeway and a hospital for people with bad kidneys. It was this beach upon which the British woman Michelle Palmer performed an ill-advised act of fellatio upon a chap she had just met — Vince Acors, from Bromley — and ended up doing three months in the local nick as a consequence. I just hope it was a shade cooler when Michelle went to work.

Vince did a lot of interviews bragging about the women he’d had sex with in Dubai when he got out. Reading the interviews, you feel Vince may have been the last person in the world you should ever give a blow job to on a beach. Or anywhere else, for that matter. Bromley say, or Downham.

Then there are the adultery cases that are stacking up. Such as Marnie Pearce, 40, sentenced to six months initially (three months plus a £600 fine and deportation after appeal) for an unproven adulterous relationship with a man she insists was just a friend: she was already separated from her husband. And the case of Sally Antia, whom the police swooped on as she emerged with a male friend from a Dubai hotel in the early hours of the morning — two months in prison reduced to six weeks on appeal. You get the feeling that the Emiratis are feeling vindictive right now.

Nor is it just sex: the Dubai authorities are getting a bit twitchy about all sorts of western behaviour when it impinges directly upon them. An Australian immigrant, Darren O’Mullane, had just finished a 14-hour shift as a nurse at a Dubai hospital and was driving home when he was badly cut up by another driver who swerved in front of him. When he finally overtook this clown, he — again, ill-advisedly, as it turned out — stuck one finger up in fury. Just one finger. Three weeks in prison, lost everything — house, car, the lot. He told me the whole process had been devastating, not least having to apologise to the idiot driver who was, as bad luck would have it, a UAE police official. “I am fed up with foreigners not respecting the rules and our culture,” the puffed-up medieval official told the local Arab media later. You can tell a lot about a country from a quick look at its policemen going about their business. In Dubai they appear strutting, arrogant and faintly ludicrous, the sort of policemen you might have seen in a pre-war Third World fascist theocracy. That is not too far removed from a description of Dubai today.

The Rattlesnake bar at the Metropolitan Hotel Dubai at 10pm, just before the Filipino dance band comes on, is the place to be; this is where the Islamic blind eye is at its most consciously, calculatedly, unseeing. The whores outnumber the punters by about two to one, and that’s only the lucky whores actually inside the place. There’s a phalanx of about 30 of them crowded just inside the door, just standing and watching, possessed of insufficient money to buy drinks. Another 40 or so are working the rooms, their buoyant pre-recession breasts rubbing up against some happy but bewildered surveyor from Daventry, or project manager from Glasgow, or engineer from Düsseldorf. Outside, 40 or 50 more sit at tables, or stroll arm in arm along the pathways, begging western men to take them inside. These girls are almost exclusively Russian — but not from Moscow or St Petersburg, or even Kiev. They are Russians from the de-Russified ’stans, drawn here by the lack of work for people of their ethnic origin in Almaty, Dushanbe, Tashkent, Samarkand. They are a remarkable phenomenon. I will bet that right now, in a village halfway up the Andes, or in a yurt just south of Ulan Bator, Mongolia, or somewhere down a long broad river in Sarawak, Borneo, Svetlana and Olga and Zinaida are sidling up to the local menfolk, offering them a bit of vigorous glasnost and perestroika for £30 an hour.

Iliana, a pretty chemical blonde in her twenties from Uzbekistan, is telling me who she would deign to sleep with for money. “English, good. Scottish, better. Irish, good. German, okay. But no f***ing blacks and no f***ing Arabs.” No locals? “Arabs?” she asks, outraged. “No Arabs.”

“What if they paid you 20,000 dirhams [nearly £3,500]?”

“Oh, well, then, yes, sure,” she says, laughing.

None of the Russian girls will sleep with black people or Arabs, not even Luba from Turkmenistan, who is a little older and a little brighter and a little more circumspect. There were lots of West African girls in this bar not so long ago, but the Russkies forced them out. The refusal to have anything to do with the Emiratis is not confined to the sex workers: every taxi driver I spoke to — almost all of them Pakistani — said they would refuse to pick up an Arab. Why? “Because they are arrogant scum,” one driver told me. Nobody wants anything to do with the Emiratis.

Luba worked in a travel agency in Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, but the money was appalling and she needed to put her son through university, so she came here. As we talk I notice her still working, trying, over my shoulder, to catch the eye of someone who might actually pay her for her time. She hates her work — most of the girls hate their work — but not Iliana. “I like f***ing men,” she says cheerfully, and disappears, presumably to meet a client. Luba looks like she will not be so lucky tonight, which is a shame, because I like her, although she’s quite fervently racist, as they all are. As everyone here in Dubai is, here in this lovely little melting pot, all these races gathered together, loathing one another.

At midnight I make to leave but am stopped by Keri, who is a very attractive young lady from Almaty in Kazakhstan. She hangs onto my jacket because she has found something very attractive to admire in me, too. This is gratifying, if you’re me. “So lovely, so lovely,” she says, holding the thing in her hands, turning it over and over, “I haven’t seen one like it.”

I blush a little and clear my throat.

“Um, it’s a Bic,” I tell her.

“Bic? What is this Bic?” she says shaking her pretty head, still stroking it.

“A lighter. Its name is, you know, Bic. I think they’re, er, French.”

“Aah,” she says, kohl-heavy eyes flashing. “So you have been to France, yes?”

“No — I mean, yes, um, I’ve been to France. But you can get these lighters in England too!”

“Really?” She says, entranced.

“Er, yes. In Sainsbury’s. Or a corner shop. For about 70 pence.”

I give her the lighter and skedaddle, back to my hotel room. She is less pleased with the lighter now that she possesses it.

My interview at the Islamic Information Center is a brief, uncomfortable experience, albeit conducted with exquisite politeness and civility (on their part, at least). This is a propaganda arm of the government, or more properly a state-run evangelistic Islamic operation aimed at westerners, situated in a lock-up shop in a frowzy sector of downtown Dubai. What happens is this:

I sip water (they were out of beer) and ask a question like — hey, have you seen all those whores down at the Rattlesnake? Isn’t that against the law? And then the five berobed interviewees talk among themselves at great length in Arabic and eventually one of them explains to me very courteously, with a shy smile and an apology, why they won’t answer the question. Not their responsibility, you see. This happens seven or eight times, and eventually the interview is terminated. After many handshakes I am sent on my way with a copy of a little book about how Jesus Christ was quite a nice man but totally useless, if we’re being honest. One of the men, Wael Osman, sort of agrees that the economic downturn has made relations between Emiratis and their western Gastarbeiter a little more tingly, a little more fraught, and concurred that while the government turned a blind eye to all sorts of westerner shenanigans, this was becoming harder to do of late. But when I say “agrees” and “concurred”, I mean that I said this stuff and he smiled a little and in a very vague sort of way nodded his head. The man I should be speaking to was the chief of police, they said, but sadly he was away receiving a medal in Djibouti.

I didn’t really have a chance to get on to the main topic, the stuff about Dubai that really, truly offends — and indeed should offend Islamic sensibilities. I don’t mean Luba and Iliana, although the traffic in Russian prostitutes is brutal and violent. I don’t mean the westerners in their Porsches, or the authoritarian nature of this place and complete and utter lack of democracy, or the vile architecture and unbounded materialism, or the prosecution of women for the crime of standing near men. I don’t even mean the mass rounding-up and prosecution of homosexuals, who are summarily imprisoned and — the government has suggested — may face hormone treatment in order to make them, uh, “better”; this is a Sodom where sodomy carries a 10-year stretch. All of that stuff makes Dubai a fairly foul place to be, but compared to Dubai’s real crimes, they are as nothing.

Maz, a Pakistani from Lahore, drives a taxi for a living (he won’t pick up Emiratis, of course). He lives in a room in the grim suburb of Al Quoz, a room costing £700 a month that he shares with six other Pakistanis. His passport has been taken from him in case he nicks the car he is driving. He cannot get home, he hasn’t the money or, indeed, the passport. Maz, though, is one of the lucky ones, very near the top of the hierarchy of Third World workers induced to come to this country by the promise of large wages — wages that are rarely forthcoming. Maz at least gets paid, even if all the money goes on rent.

The bar staff are also near the top of this hierarchy. Mostly Roman Catholic Goans, they get looked after by the hotels and even get a chance to visit their families once a year or so. I spoke to one barman to glean a bit more detail about his living conditions, but an Emirati overseer barked something out and the man ceased talking to me. But at least the hotels provide their staff with accommodation, even if it is in dormitories.

t is the construction workers, the labourers — the Bangladeshis, the Tamils, the Filipinos, the Somalians, the Chinese — who are the real scandal of Dubai. Hundreds of thousands of them lured again by the promise of large wages, stripped of their passports, their contracts rarely honoured — some have gone months without being paid, some have even paid just to be there. They cannot go home. They hunker down in cramped, squalid apartments in Sonapur and Al Quoz. This is Dubai as a slave state. There were serious riots recently in the Chinese quarter: the workers finally had enough of criminally low wages — 500 dirhams, or about £83 a month — and continual mistreatment. The Chinese embassy got involved. Worse still are the conditions of the south-Asian workers, the construction men and the maids, effectively imprisoned in this country, abused by their employers, scrabbling around in sometimes 50C heat to earn enough to pay the rent on their shared accommodation. The Indians rioted too last year, but were forced back to work by water cannon. In the year 2005 alone, the Indian consulate estimated that 971 of its nationals died in Dubai, from construction site accidents, heat exhaustion and — increasingly — suicide. The figure for suicides the next year alone was more than 100. The Emiratis were, to give them credit, appalled by this figure, so they asked the consulate to stop collating the statistics. In October 2007 a construction-work strike resulted in 4,000 migrant workers being flung in jail and then deported. In 2006 the campaigning charity Human Rights Watch detailed the “serious” abuses of workers’ rights — the wages withheld, the high rates of injury and death with “little assurance” of medical care, the passports confiscated, the wages either criminally low or never paid. The UAE had done “little or nothing” to address the problem. You get the picture?

Local human-rights activists, when they raise their concerns, tend to receive a visit from the secret police; some have had their rights to practise as lawyers stripped from them.

Andrew Blair, he of the Porsche, is a project manager for construction work. He believes the condition of the labourers is appalling, unforgivable, almost beyond belief. I suggest to him that in his position, he could ensure that the contracts went out to firms that treated their workers fairly. He thinks about this for a moment. “Um, well I don’t care about it that much,” he says.

He is not a bad person, Andrew, and my suggestion is probably a little naive. He is, at least, conflicted. He acknowledges the issue and can comprehend that it is an evil. But that’s what you sign up to when you buy property in Dubai, or go there to work, or to stay in one of its bling hotels. You sign up to all that stuff you condone it.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed my taxi ride back to the airport with Tariq, the taxi driver from Peshawar (he won’t pick up Emiratis); to see that towering skyscape left behind in a cloud of desert dust. Paris Hilton had just flown in to do something pointless in a mall. When that happens, you just have to get the hell out.

where the money comes from

GDP in 2007: £23 billion

Trading: 31%

Construction/ Real estate: 22.6%

Financial Services: 11%

Oil/Petrol/Gas: 5.8%

Dubai’s foreign debt is well over 100% of its GDP

Annual incomes

Project manager, Construction: £57,576

Project manager, IT: £38,438

IT manager: £33,891

Construction worker: ± £993

Politics and human rights

1 No suffrage

2 Political parties illegal

3 Freedom of association and expression curtailed

The UAE refuses to sign the following treaties:

4 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

5 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

6 Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families

7 Convention against Torture

Crime and punishment

8 Death penalty by firing squad for several offences

9 Death penalty by stoning for adultery

The people

Population (Inc Migrants)

Male 75.5%

Female 24.5%

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Al Fajer Properties Case – Zadeh says he’s a victim of a system in which the rulers can manipulate police and the courts to protect their business

Posted by 7starsdubai on July 19, 2009

Al Fajer Properties Dubai 2009 , Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al 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

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Don`t kiss your girlfriend in a Dubai Taxi !

Posted by 7starsdubai on July 19, 2009

source GulfNews

Dubai: An Arab man is in police custody and could face deportation after being accused of kissing his girlfriend while they were both in a taxi in Dubai, Police told Gulf News.

A police source from Al Rifaa police station said that the Lebanese businessman working in Dubai, was arrested by Criminal and Investigation police officials recently while he was accompanying his Ukrainian girlfriend in a taxi.

The man – in his late thirties – is being detained at Al Rifa’a police station. He was later transferred to Al Aweer central jail.

The man said he was leaving a hotel in Dubai’s Al Rifaa area with his girlfriend. They were sitting next to each other in the taxi. “We took a taxi and I was sitting next to my girlfriend. I was leaning at her showing her a video clip on my mobile phone,” he said.

He said that after a few minutes the taxi was stopped by undercover police. “We were asked to leave the taxi. They asked me why I was kissing her in public. They said this is not allowed here,” he said.

The man said he and his girlfriend were arrested and taken to Al Rifa’a police station.

Police said that the man and his girlfriend have been arrested for committing an indecent gesture in public.

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Dubai Police Nab Real Estate Agent on the Run

Posted by 7starsdubai on July 8, 2009

source KhaleejTimes

DUBAI — A real estate agent, on the run for
nearly a month, was caught by Dubai Police for allegedly issuing dud cheques worth Dh203 million to high
end clients.

Ahmed Thani bin Ghalita, Director of the anti-crime department of Dubai Police said, about 39 people, including top soccer players, had lodged complaints against the man, a British citizen of Pakistani origin.

Ghalita s
id the complainants alleged that the man had sold them property, for which they gave deposits, and when the deals fell through, the deposits were not repaid as guaranteed. “The police received information that the suspect, who is a holder of a British pa
sport, was trying to escape from the UAE. The police launched a search for the suspect who worked as a real estate broker and who was wanted by Interpol for issuing dud cheques to clients, including soccer players of various teams,” he said.

he police was informed by employees that the suspect was not living with his children and that he changes his appearance and was not using his mobile phone to avoid being caught by
the police.

“The suspect was stunned when he was arrested by the police in a coffee shop in the Murraqabat area — he thought that the police would not recognise him. The suspect has been on the run for 25 days.”

Ghalita said the suspect, using his work in the real estate company, dealt with clients through the email and online resources so as to avoid providing evidence for an office or home address.

Ghalita would not say which company the man was working for or which property or properties he claimed to be a broker for.

The department of anti-crime, established by the Dubai Police on September 2008, has approved a number of ways to curb crime, including the investigation of bounced cheques of large sums.

It was a part of this initiative that Dubai Police tracked the 39 complaints issued at various police stations, investigated and arrested the man for issuing bounced cheques worth Dh203 million.

During the first half of the current year the police recovered thousands of dirhams by investigating on dud cheque cases and arrested 278 wanted people.

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Dubai Property Developer Al Barakah chief arrested on bouncing cheque charges

Posted by 7starsdubai on July 8, 2009

source The National

The chief executive of the property developer Al Barakah is in custody, and is likely to face charges relating to the signing cheques worth millions of dirhams, which later allegedly bounced.

SIK, whose company was planning what would have been the tallest tower in Ajman, surrendered himself to the Dubai police last Thursday and was officially arrested on Sunday, according to the public prosecutor’s office of the Muraqqabat police station.
“He has been captured on Sunday this week,” said a first sergeant at the public prosecutor’s office. “He said that his name has been blocked and that he can’t leave. He told that his business had [gone] worse and that he wanted to solve everything by the court. And because of that he surrendered himself.”

According to the officer, the charges related to a bounced cheque. “He had one bounced cheque of nearly Dh10m and the case has been sent yesterday to the court,” he said.

The chief executive was being sought by Dubai Police for more than seven months for allegedly bouncing cheques that totaled more than Dh40 million (US$16.33m), according to the Dubai police.

Al Barakah, which launched a dozen projects in Dubai and Ajman from 2007, found itself in difficulty last year.

SIK signed agreements with investors promising to buy back their properties after six months with a guaranteed 50 per cent profit on the downpayment. He issued post-dated checks as a guarantee of the buy-back.

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Ajman Property Investors File Fraud Case

Posted by 7starsdubai on June 24, 2009

A group of 20 property investors from Canada, the UK and Pakistan turned up in Dubai yesterday demanding a meeting with the Ajman developer Casamia Star, which they claim has failed to update them on their investments.

The group said they had bought properties in Frankfurt Residence, a yet-to-be built tower in Ajman. Casamia’s general manager, Merzak Gaci, refused to meet the group as they had not made an appointment and they were “rude”. Mr Gaci called police. Two officers turned up but there were no arrests.

The group said they had bought properties in Frankfurt Residence, a yet-to-be built tower in Ajman. Casamia’s general manager, Merzak Gaci, refused to meet the group as they had not made an appointment and they were “rude”. Mr Gaci called police. Two officers turned up but there were no arrests.

The investors then went to the Bur Dubai police station to file a complaint against the company. “The police told us to come back at 7.30 in the morning to file a case for fraud,” Mr Ghulam said.

Afterwards, he said, the group would go to the Ajman Real Estate Regulatory Authority and Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Agency.

Casamia Star was established by the German architect and entrepreneur, Hendrik Hommel. Mr Hommel is currently in Germany and unavailable for comment.

“We thought it was a German company and we trusted the market,” said Farhad Norousi, a spokesman for the investors. “But in February the developer Casamia Star sold its brokerage branch, also called Casamia Star.

 And in June the brokerage told us they have cancelled their contract with the developer, whose director has disappeared and they are no longer responsible”

He said investors did not know what had become of the money they had already submitted.

Mr Gaci said the contract with the developer had been cancelled because of a lack of co-operation, which “means when somebody does not pay you, does not give you the status of your construction”.

He added:

“What will happen to the investors? We all want to know. The investors’ money is in the developer’s account.”

Source The National

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Dubai Where Are The Locals ? Forbes Headlines

Posted by 7starsdubai on June 3, 2009

Forbes March 11, 2009

Seven suspects have reportedly been singled out by the authorities, but all of them are foreigners.

Dubai’s anti-corruption probe seemed in full swing Tuesday, after seven expatriate businessmen were reportedly accused by prosecutors of taking part in a $500.0 million fraud at Dubai Islamic Bank. The suspects included three Britons, two Pakistanis, one Turk and one American, according to the Associated Press, raising concerns that local Emiraatis might not be held as fully accountable as the expat brigade.

“Some might say that it’s evidence of the anti-corruption drive, but again, where are the Emiraatis?” wondered Christopher Davidson, a British academic who has authored several books on Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. “There have to be the local sponsors, the line managers, the people whose desk at which the buck stopped.”

The alleged fraud involved a company called CCH, which according to reports was linked to some of the named suspects and may have forged documents to fraudulently obtain funds from Dubai Islamic Bank. The bank issued a statement on Tuesday claiming its exposure to CCH was around $330.0 million and that it was chasing down assets “in a range of countries.”

The former chief executive of Dubai Islamic Bank, Saad Abdul Razak, was reportedly taken into custody last year for questioning, as part of the authorities’ probe of the real-estate sector, but his name does not seem to have made the final list. Press reports claim that a handful of local Emiraati executives have also been interrogated, including Sami al-Hashemi, ex-CEO of real-estate developer Mizin, and Abdul Salam al-Marri, head of the Lagoons development on Dubai Creek.

Although Dubai’s defenders cite the example of a former cabinet minister, named in press reports as Khalifa Mohammad Bakhit al-Falasi, who was sentenced to two years in jail in February for an unrelated case of fraud and embezzlement, the truth is that very few local Emiraatis have been charged or punished as a result of such investigations.

Expatriate businessmen have also accused the Dubai authorities of torture and detention without charge, including Zack Shahin, ex-CEO of Dubai Islamic Bank’s real-estate subsidiary Deyaar Properties, and Shahram Abdullah Zadeh, former manager of developer Al-Fajer Properties Dubai  (See “Desert Storm In Dubai.”)

Zack Shahin is still behind bars and still has not been charged, according to one of his American lawyers, James Pitts, who told Forbes that there were around 40 other foreign businessmen in a similar situation in Dubai.

When asked whether Shahin might have provided names to the authorities in exchange for a lighter potential sentence, or exemption from the charge sheet, Pitts replied: “I am certainly not aware of any such arrangement.”

Read also: Desert Storm in Dubai

Read also : Madoff of The Mideast Denies Charges

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Dubai – Forbes – Al Fajer Properties Scandal – Battle over the Books – Behind the $870 million ”rescue” of a royal developer

Posted by 7starsdubai on May 31, 2009

original published Forbes

March 08. 2009 12:36AM UAE / March 8. 2009 8:36PM GMT

zadehmaktoumjbcOn Feb. 3, Al-Fajer Properties, a high-profile real estate development firm owned by the brother in law of Dubai’s ruling sheik, announced a 3.2 billion dirham ($871.2 million) restructuring of its operations. Under the leadership of its new president, Sheikh Maktoum bin Hasher al-Maktoum–the eldest son of the company’s owner, and nephew of Dubai’s ruling sheik–the company explained it had liquidated its land bank and sold off its remaining inventory after a “rigorous” business review in order to strengthen its balance sheet.

But sources close to Al-Fajer tell Forbes that the restructuring was actually a wholesale “rescue” from financial ruin as an independent entity, after nearly three years of alleged mismanagement under former manager Shahram Abdullah Zadeh, a flamboyant, Iranian-born businessman who was fired last year and who claims to still be owed at least $1.9 billion by Al-Fajer.

Forbes has consulted documents–including bank statements, company contracts and employee interviews drafted by an auditing firm, which was called in to help conduct the business review last year–that purportedly tell the story of how Zadeh allegedly forged company contracts, kept fraudulent, unaudited accounts and moved money back and forth between Al-Fajer Properties and other companies owned by him.

Sources close to Al-Fajer say the new president, Maktoum, was called in by his father to fix the so-called “financial shambles” after an employee indirectly alerted the elder sheik to the company’s financial situation by requesting cash in early 2008. Documents show a cash balance of approximately $8.2 million when Maktoum arrived, which was restored to $163.4 million to $190 million 60 days later.

The sheik, say sources close to the company, did this by unwinding investments that would have saddled Al-Fajer with massive liabilities–in the “hundreds of millions” of dirhams–narrowly escaping the real estate slide that hit Dubai months later after the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers in September. Since then, property prices have fallen an estimated 20% to 25%.

Al-Fajer’s cash balance as of February 2009 was not made available to Forbes, but sources close to the company hint that nearly all of it has been plowed back into construction projects.

Zadeh flatly denies any wrongdoing and claims that the so-called “rescue” was a full-blown theft of a company he had owned and financed alone throughout the course of its existence. Moreover, he denies that the company was a financial mess and claims that his erstwhile partner, Maktoum, breached his trust to take control of a successful firm.

“I was the sole investor, and Al-Fajer Properties was my company,” he says. “Sheik Hasher Maktoum has not invested a single dirham into the company; his only contribution has been the real estate license.”

The payment for this license, which cost $82,000, sat in a bank account from the company’s inception in 2004 and was not used as operational capital, Zadeh says.

Zadeh claims that Maktoum, his father and others together “cooked the books” and took control of Al-Fajer Properties while he was detained in jail by the authorities, without being charged, between February and April 2008. After being blindfolded, tortured and interrogated for weeks about unfounded bribery allegations and his operations at Al-Fajer in detail, Zadeh says he emerged from jail only to find a letter demanding he cease all involvement with the company.

Zadeh says he believes his detention was the result of a false report. Sources close to Al-Fajer say that any such claims did not come from them.

The battle has already spilled into the courts, a potentially embarrassing development for a company linked to Dubai’s ruling family. After filing two unsuccessful criminal complaints against Al-Fajer last year, Zadeh said his lawyers filed a civil lawsuit against the company on Feb. 26 at the Dubai Courts, claiming he was still owed $1.9 billion.

Although Al-Fajer Properties is said to have filed a criminal complaint against Zadeh in late February, alleging fraud and embezzlement of funds, the company’s lawyer would not confirm this. “I am aware of no suits against me,” Zadeh says.

Zadeh does not deny moving funds between Al-Fajer and other companies he owns, but claims that he put the money into the company’s account in the first place and later took it back as his “investment.” He said that no money was missing, though he admitted there had been no auditing of the company accounts because the firm was understaffed and had big ambitions.

Sources close to Al-Fajer also confirm that no money appeared to be missing; Zadeh is said to have made up the balance of withdrawn funds with later payments back into the firm.

The corporate tussle casts no direct shadow on the reputation of Dubai’s ruling family, even though Al-Fajer’s operators are one degree removed from Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. But it’s another example of the dark side of Dubai, one more blow to its image as a spectacular hub for global investment. After recently being forced to borrow $10 billion from the United Arab Emirates’ central bank in Abu Dhabi to help its enterprises pay short-term debts (see “Dubai’s Jolt Back To Reality”), Dubai is bracing for more bad news as its gross domestic product growth plunges from 8% or so in 2008 to an expected 2.5% this year.

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Al Fajer Properties Sheikh plans counter claim

Posted by 7starsdubai on May 25, 2009

source Zawya (AFP)

DUBAI, May 25, 2009 (AFP) – A Dubai sheikh being sued by an Iranian businessman over 1.9 billion dollars in property investments plans to file a counterclaim demanding compensation for losses, his lawyer said on Monday.

Shahram Abdullah Zadeh, the former chief executive of Dubai-based developer Al-Fajer Properties, filed the initial lawsuit against the firm and  Sheikh Hasher Maktoum bin Jumaa al-Maktoum, in February, claiming he was the sole investor and real owner of the company.

“We have requested time to file a counterclaim to demand compensation from Shahram Zadeh,” lawyer Samir Jaafar told AFP following a fourth hearing in the case on Monday.

Zadeh accused the defence of “running away from responding to the lawsuit” against Sheikh Hasher, a brother-in-law of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.

He said Sheikh Hasher was registered as owning Al-Fajer PropertiesAl-Fajer Properties
Al Fajer Properties, because being a foreigner he could not register it under his own name.

He told AFP his defence had requested the appointment of an auditor to trace capital inflows into the company, and said despite claims that he was just an employee he never took a salary or had an employment contract.

“He was supposed to earn a share of profits made under his management. But the company did not make any profits,” Jaafar responded.

Al-Fajer Properties, which since February 2009 has been run by Sheikh Hasher’s son, Sheikh Maktoum, filed two complaints with Dubai police in February and March, accusing Zadeh of embezzling 114 million dirhams (31.06 million dollars).

A representative of Zadeh’s lawyer, Salim al-Shaali, called the two claims false and said a complaint about them has been lodged with the public prosecution.

Zadeh is demanding the recovery of all assets of Al-Fajer PropertiesAl-Fajer Properties
Al Fajer Properties, estimated in the lawsuit at seven billion dirhams (1.9 billion dollars).

The judge adjourned Monday’s hearing to June 17.

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Al Fajer Properties – Dynasty Zarooni – Investors Petition – 500 signatures

Posted by 7starsdubai on May 25, 2009

Al Fajer – Ebony & Ivory – Petition – Ordered to Pay 500 Million

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Al Fajer Properties – Dubai Court Case – Lawyer rubbishes lawsuit against Dubai sheikh

Posted by 7starsdubai on May 18, 2009

source BusinessMaktoob and  Zawya

Dubai Monday, May 04, 2009

The defence lawyer( Samir Jaafar) for a Dubai Sheikh ( Hasher Maktoum bin Juma Al Matoum, brother in law of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum) being sued by an Iranian businessman over $1.9 billion property investments  on Monday rejected the lawsuit as baseless.

“All his allegations and the sums that he claims to have pumped into the company are unfounded,” lawyer Samir Jaafar told news agency AFP after the third hearing in the case.

Shahram Abdullah Zadeh has filed the $1.9 billion case against Sheikh Hasher Maktoum bin Jumaa Al-Maktoum and the Dubai-based real estate developer Al-Fajer Properties.

Zadeh insists he was the real owner and sole investor in Al-Fajer, which is registered under the name of Sheikh Hasher, a brother-in-law of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum.

“There are surprises in the documents that we have presented to the court which will turn the case upside down,” Sheikh Hasher’s lawyer Samir Jaafar said, declining to elaborate.

“We believe that the lawsuit will be rejected after the court goes through the documents that we have presented,” Jaafar added.

Legal sources close to the case, asking not to be named, said the defence has charged that the sums which Zadeh says he invested in the company were in fact the “company’s money that he misused to appear as if it was his own”.

Zadeh, for his part, demands the “recovery of all material assets of Al-Fajer Properties“, according to legal documents obtained by AFP.

These include liquid assets and property, which are estimated at 7 billion dirhams ($1.9 billion), and 9 percent interest since the suit was filed.

His lawyer Salim al-Shaali, who asked the judge for time to study the defence document, said that at the next hearing on May 25 he will ask for an auditor to be appointed to look into the company’s accounts.

“The expert would decide who pumped capital into the company and … whether the defendants paid any money,” he told AFP.

Zadeh charges Sheikh Hasher made no investment in Al-Fajer and that he acquired the licence under the sheikh’s name only because Emirati law does not allow non-Gulf citizens to register real estate firms under their own names.

“For every dirham that Sheikh Hasher can show the court he has invested in Al-Fajer Properties, will give him the company and an extra $10 million bonus,” Shahram Zadeh told AFP after the latest hearing, which he did not attend

Shahram Zadeh said he started up the company from scratch, pumping in cash “as and when the company needed”, and that he only withdrew part of his initial investments after the company expanded from property sales.

“The Sheikhs claim I was an employee,” said Zadeh.

“My question to the court is what employee (can be) the sole investor, work for four years with absolute single authority signing billions of dirhams on cheques, contracts … but work without a salary or an employment contract?”

In addition to Sheikh Hasher, Zadeh is suing his daughter, Sheikha Maryam, a partner in the company, and son Sheikh Maktoum bin Hasher Juma Al Maktoum, who was made president of Al-Fajer after Zadeh was sacked in February.

Zadeh said he was detained by Dubai police after he was sacked and then held without charge for 60 days, and that his passport was confiscated and is still being held.

“I still don’t know why I was arrested,” he said.

The case comes as several executives from high-profile Dubai firms are being held on suspicion of embezzlement and as the once-booming regional business and tourism hub struggles to stave off the impact of the global economic crisis.

Dynasty Zarooni

Al Fajer Properties

GulfNews The first report about this case in the local UAE press

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Dubai Lawyer Samir Jafaar: ‘Ex-UAE Minister of State Had No Intention to Cheat’

Posted by 7starsdubai on May 10, 2009

source KhaleejTimes by Zawya

08 May 2009


The verdict in the fraud case filed against former UAE Minister of State Dr Khalifa Bakhit Al Falasi will be pronounced on May 28 by the Court of Appeals.

Both defence lawyers of the ex-minister, his son and the other two defendants, Samir Jaafar and Abdelmonem Suwaidan, stressed in their arguments that the former minister did not swindle the Lebanese businesswoman (the plaintiff). They pleaded that she was aware of the legal status of both her late brother and Dr Al Falasi before she signed the disputed settlement bond in which she relinquished her 49 per cent shares in the Global Information Technology Company that she inherited from her brother.

“The audit reports and financial and budget statements of the company are some of the evidence that she was aware of the business relationship between the minister and her brother,” Jaafar said. “What sustains our pleas is that my client (the ex-minister) was running the information company in due course when the plaintiff’s brother was in the US for health reasons. Dr Al Falasi signed personal banking security bonds which is a clear revelation of his good intentions,” counsel Jaafar pleaded.

Jaafar added, “In the documents we had access to, there was one particular contract signed by the ex-minister and the plaintiff’s brother saying that the latter collected a monthly salary of Dh2,000. This proves that my client is a real partner in the company.”

Jaafar pointed out that the plaintiff collected Dh28 million for her part of the family shares which does not mean that she was victim of cheating.

The 51-year-old ex-minister pleaded not guilty to the charge of cheating the Lebanese businesswoman to unlawfully take the Global Information Technology Company, she inherited from her brother by pretending he was a partner with 51 per cent of the shares, rather than a paid sponsor.

He pleaded not guilty to the fraud and breach of trust charges. His son, the American director general of the company and the Indian financial manager also pleaded not guilty to the charge of criminal complicity in defrauding the plaintiff.

The Court of Misdemeanours awarded on February 23 the former minister two years in jail, as he was found guilty of fraud. Dr Al Felasi was acquitted of the charge of breach of trust.

Defence lawyer Jaafar also highlighted in his pleas a letter from the Economic Department proving that Dr Al Falasi was the original owner of the company since 1995 and that late brother joined in as a shareholder in 1996.  The former minister’s 26-year-old son was acquitted in February from the criminal complicity charge.

The company’s director general and the financial manager were awarded two years in jail each for assisting in swindling the plaintiff. They would be deported after serving their jail terms, the court ordered. The civil case was referred to the relevant court whereas the plaintiff is claiming Dh500 million in compensation.

The Lebanese woman is also prosecuting the former minister for hiding from her the fact that her late brother was investing in a real estate in Al Qusais area.

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Abu Dhabi ruling family linked to ‘torture’ video

Posted by 7starsdubai on April 27, 2009

source Telegraph UK

The emergence of a video purporting to show a senior member of the United Arab Emirates’ ruling family co-ordinating the torture of a businessman has threatened to tarnish the reputation of the pro-Western, oil-rich Gulf state.

The video purports to show Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan, the half-brother of the Manchester City owner, Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, participating in the torture of an Afghan grain dealer with whom he had had a disagreement.

The al Nahyan clan’s position as rulers of Abu Dhabi, the biggest of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, means they have also acted as hereditary rulers of the state since it was founded in 1971.

At a desert location under cover of darkness the torture victim, Mohammed Shah Poor, is held down and has sand stuffed down his throat.

Bullets are then fired near his feet in the sand and he is beaten with a plank of wood from which nails protruded. Salt is then rubbed into his open wounds. An electric cattle prod is also used on part of his body while his genitals are soaked in lighter fluid, which is then set alight.

The coup de grace comes when Mr Nahyan appears to drive a Mercedes SUV over the victim, accompanied by what seems to be the sound of breaking bones. Mr Nahyan is heard on the video seeming to co-ordinate the torture assisted by uniformed members of what seem to be the UAE police force and army.

The tape, broadcast last week by the American television channel, ABC, has already led to calls for the United States to reconsider its commercial ties with the UAE, the tiny but wealthy state that includes Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

James McGovern, a US congressman, has called for a freeze on government aid to the Emirates.

He also called for Mr Nahyan to be refused a US visa.

In a letter to Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, Mr McGovern said: “I cannot describe the horror and revulsion I felt when witnessing what is on this video … I could not watch it without constantly flinching.”

ABC put up a section of the video on its website, although sections containing the most shocking material, including the use of the cattle prod, were not released.

The tape was given to ABC by Bassam Nabulsi, a US citizen and Houston businessman, who has begun a legal battle in the American courts against Mr Nahyan for alleged maltreatment and loss of earnings after a business deal went sour.

The UAE government has confirmed Mr Nahyan is the man in the video, although it issued a statement saying the matter had been investigated by its police but no charges were deemed necessary.

The statement said the video was not “part of a pattern of behaviour” and, as permitted under Abu Dhabi law, “the parties involved … settled the matter privately by agreeing not to bring formal charges against each other â ” ie theft on the one hand and assault on the other”.

The ministry of the interior said police followed all necessary procedures when investigating the incident.

Read also:

The Guardian UK

ABC News

Financial Times

Open Letter

German Press Bild Zeitung

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Jailed Dubai mum Marnie Pearce to be freed by pardon tomorrow

Posted by 7starsdubai on April 27, 2009

source Mirror

Marnie Pearce, the British mum jailed in Dubai for adultery, has won a dramatic pardon and will be set free tomorrow.

Marnie, 40, was locked up after her Egyptian husband falsely claimed she cheated on him. She was supposed to be deported back to Britain after her sentence – which could have meant never seeing her two young sons again.

Now, in a dramatic U-turn by the authorities in Dubai, Marnie is being pardoned and allowed to stay to fight  her ex-husband, Ihab El Labban, for custody of the boys.

In an emotional phone call from prison on the eve of her release, Marnie told the Sunday Mirror: “I didn’t dare believe I would ever have the chance to hug my babies again.

“When I first heard the deportation order was going to be lifted I just felt numb. When the news did sink in I cried tears of joy.”

The U-turn comes after a long-running campaign by the Sunday Mirror and human rights charity Amnesty International, who describe Marnie as a “prisoner of conscience”.

Under the terms of her pardon, the conviction for adultery – which Marnie vehemently denies – will still stand.

But a ruling ordering deportation at the end of her three-month sentence, cut short for good behaviour, has been scrapped.


It means she can stay to fight for custody of sons Laith, eight, and Ziad, four, who were wrenched sobbing from her in heartbreaking scenes filmed on a mobile phone.

El Labban won custody by accusing his wife of adultery – a serious crime punishable by jail under Sharia law – after she exposed his affair with an American woman.

Marnie, from Bracknell, Berks, said: “All I have ever wanted is to stay in Dubai and fight for the chance to see my boys. No mother should be kept from their children.

“It’s a child’s right to see their mother and I’ve got to fight to make sure the boys have the chance to be with me, for their sake as much as mine. I am holding on to the thought that I will be able to hold them, cuddle them and tell them how much I love them and how much I have missed them.”

Marnie’s reprieve came moments before campaigners were due to hand in a petition, signed by 5,000 people, to the United Arab Emirates embassy in London.

he hand-over was cancelled when senior officials at Dubai’s judiciary agreed on Thursday that Marnie’s deportation should be reviewed.

It is believed the decision followed a series of meetings with Foreign Office officials.

On Thursday afternoon a message was sent from the Dubai authorities to prison officials at Central Jail al-Awir, where Marnie is being held, to say that she was not going to be deported.

Marnie, who wed El Labban in the Seychelles in 1999, said: “I want to thank the British public for all the support they have given me – it has really kept me going.

“And I want to thank the Sunday Mirror for helping to raise awareness of my case and keeping it in the public eye.”


Marnie, who was not allowed to speak in court to defend herself, was arrested last March along with British ex-pat Brian Clark after El Labban claimed they were having an affair.

When officers raided Marnie’s home they found the pair fully clothed, having a cup of tea.

Yet both were arrested and Marnie was charged when her husband suddenly produced used condoms which he claimed were evidence.

But last month a Sunday Mirror investigation revealed that pharmacist El Labban, 41, was the real love cheat. He had an affair with American businesswoman Tonya Thompson, 46, a mum of two who he met at a sales conference in Dubai.

When Marnie found out she threw him out of their home. Fearing he would lose custody of the children, he then reported Marnie as an adulteress.

Before she was jailed for three months in February, Marnie was forced to hand over her children to El Labban in harrowing scenes captured by a passer-by and posted online.

Marnie said yesterday: “The last few months have been a very dark time for me. But knowing that the deportation order has been lifted it is like a light has come back in my life.

“It has been very tough in jail and hard to stay positive. I was completely heartbroken at the thought of not seeing my sons again. Now at least I have some sort of chance of access.”

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Dubai Jailed Brit mum Marnie Pearce’s ex husband tells her she’ll never see kids again

Posted by 7starsdubai on April 20, 2009

source mirror uk

The British mum jailed in Dubai for adultery has been told by the ex-husband who framed her: “You will never see your children again.”

Marnie Pearce – still in prison for a “crime” she vehemently denies – was told the news in a cruel phone taunt from her former husband Ihab El Labban.

She rang begging him to bring their sons – Laith, eight, and Ziad, five – for a final prison visit before she is deported to the UK. But he refused.

A friend, who spoke to Marnie moments after the call, said: “He coldly told her, ‘I am not bringing the boys to see you’. Even when she begged and screamed for him to change his mind he just laughed and kept saying, ‘No, no, no’ over and over again. He said she will never see the boys again.

How cruel can one man be?” The news has left Marnie, 40, from Bracknell, Berks, totally devastated and struggling to cope with prison life even though her three-month sentence is almost over. She is due to be freed at the end of this month.

The friend added: “Marnie is now at her lowest ebb. She spends most of her time crying. All that has kept her going over the last few weeks is the thought of a last meeting with her sons, but she has been denied that.”

This is the latest twist in a disturbing case first exclusively revealed by the Sunday Mirror last year. Marniethe only British woman ever to be jailed in Dubai for adultery – was convicted on suspect evidence and without an opportunity to say anything in her defence.

She now faces more heartache as El Labban, 41, has been handed permanent custody of the couple’s children. The only hope she has of ever seeing them again is if he travels to the UK which he has refused to do.

It has left her with no option but to mount a legal battle to win back custody of the boys. But that is likely to take many years.

Marnie is being supported by human rights campaign group Amnesty, who are demanding her immediate release.

She was arrested last March along with a British expat friend after El Labban tipped off police in the Arab state that they were having an affair – punishable by jail under Dubai law.

When officers raided Marnie’s home they found the pair fully clothed having a cup of tea. The friend insists he was only there to use her computer. But both were arrested and Marnie was charged when her husband suddenly produced used condoms which he claimed were evidence.

Last month a Sunday Mirror investigation revealed that pharmacist El Labban is the real love cheat as he had an affair with American Tonya Thompson, 46, in Dubai in October 2007.

When Marnie found out she threw her husband out of their apartment. Fearing he would lose custody of their children he framed Marnie as an adulteress.

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ACI Real Estate Dubai Niki Lauda Tower Project – Define Properties executive detained

Posted by 7starsdubai on April 10, 2009

source The National

DUBAI // A principal shareholder of Define Properties has been detained by Dubai authorities on provisional charges of fraud, prosecutors said today.

The arrest of the executive comes in the middle of negotiations with Alternative Capital Invest Real Estate (ACI), a Germany-based property developer operating in Dubai, to take over some of Define’s assets.

The major shareholder was arrested in mid-March after complaints were filed by an investor in Define Properties, said Tarek Daoud, the administration director of the company. He said the amount being sought by the investor was close to Dh30 million (US$8.1m).

“He is arrested and in Bur Dubai police station,” Mr Daoud said. A lawyer for the detained executive did not return messages today.

Robin Lohmann, the managing director of ACI, said the arrest would not disrupt his company’s negotiations with Define Properties.

“It is not affecting our deal,” Mr Lohmann said. “We are negotiating over a different part of the company that is unrelated to this case.”

Earlier this year, ACI took over the Niki Lauda Twin Towers in Business Bay from Define Properties after construction stalled and the future of the project appeared to be in jeopardy.

ACI had marketed and sold units in the building last year, but Define Properties was still responsible for building it. Read the rest of this entry »

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The detention of Zack Shaheen, former CEO of real estate developer Deyaar, has been extended again for a month.

Posted by 7starsdubai on April 6, 2009

soruce Khaleejtimes

The detention of Zack Shaheen, former CEO of real estate developer Deyaar, has been extended again for a month.

Shaheen has been in detention for about a year in connection with alleged financial ir
egularities in Deyaar.

The detention extension comes almost two weeks after Dub
i Attorney-General Eissam Issa Al Humaidan announced that the investigation into possible involvement of Shaheen in corruption was nearing completion.

Al Humaidan also listed the charges framed against Shaheen and other suspects, i
cluding forgery, embezzlement, fraud and possible money laundering. The Attorney-General had told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the third Judicial Forum held on March 26 that an announcement would be made soon regarding Shaheen. “Within 10 d
ys, the Public Prosecution will take an action regarding Shaheen’s case as we have completed most of the


According to the UAE law, a suspect is detained for 21 days upon beginning an investigation, after which the case file is referred by the prosecution to the relevant judge who would decide whether to extend
the detention or not, based on the probe findings.

Al Humaidan said each time,
he detention could be extended for a month. After the end of that month, the file has to be referred again for another

month’s extension.

The Public Prosecution has contacted financial institutions abroad seeking information and evidence on alleged illegal transfer of embezzled funds.

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UK mother Marnie Pearce – jailed in Dubai – loses child custody fight

Posted by 7starsdubai on March 24, 2009

source The National

DUBAI // A British mother jailed for adultery has been refused custody of her two sons as she awaits deportation.

Marnie Pearce, 40, was hoping her children, aged eight and four, would be returned to her, despite her conviction. Adultery is a criminal offence in the UAE.

But after two failed appeals in the criminal courts, Dubai’s family court yesterday decided to award full custody of her sons to their father, Ihab el Labban, 42.

She will not be allowed to remain in the country after completing her three-month sentence in April.

British embassy officials have asked the Attorney General to review the case and waive the deportation. Amnesty International and Fair Trials International have also backed her, saying the interests of the children must come first.Mr el Labban was not available for comment.

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Marnie Pearce jailed in Dubai – Save me and my children

Posted by 7starsdubai on March 17, 2009

marnie-pearce Save me and my Children official Website Marnie Pearce

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Dubai Court : Bribes for developers were not illegal, claim lawyers – Four former employees of Sama Dubai, one former employee of Damac

Posted by 7starsdubai on March 16, 2009

source TheNational

March 16. 2009 12:42AM UAE

DUBAI // Lawyers for seven former property executives accused of taking bribes and illegal commissions claimed yesterday that there was nothing in UAE law that prohibited what their clients had done.

Four former employees of Sama Dubai, the property arm of the government-owned Dubai Holding, and one former employee of Damac, one of the UAE’s largest private property developers, appeared before the Criminal Court of First Instance to plead not guilty to taking illegal commissions from the sale and resale of land owned by the Government.

Judge Fahmi Mounir granted a defence application for an adjournment but all five men were denied bail. The hearing will resume on Sunday.

At the start of a separate trial, two former employees of Nakheel, the Dubai development company behind such projects as the Palm trilogy, the World and Waterfront, were charged with accepting illegal commissions by charging an extra two per cent for themselves on the sale of land on the Palm Jebel Ali development.

They too pleaded not guilty and were denied bail; the trial was adjourned until March 29.

The men appeared in court yesterday in the first two of what are expected to be a series of trials linked to wide-ranging corruption investigations.

Arrests began more than 10 months ago and as many as 30 executives from several companies are believed to be in custody. Most have yet to be charged.

Details emerged at the hearings of some of the alleged business practices at the heart of the investigation.

In one case, a cash bribe of more than Dh5 million (US$1.36m) was allegedly delivered to a defendant’s home in a black suitcase.

In the Sama case, the former CEO of The Lagoons project, AM, 42, is accused of having accepted five apartments, worth Dh2.69m, and Dh200,000 in cash from a company seeking to delay payments on seven properties it had purchased in The Lagoons.

He is charged with failing to terminate the company’s contract for defaulting on its payments and allowing the resale of the properties on its behalf.

His actions, prosecutors said, resulted in a loss of Dh137m that Sama could have made had it sold the land to another investor. The company also lost Dh4.63m in transfer fees.

An expert from the Dubai Financial Control Department said in a statement that AM had registered four of the apartments in his name and one in his wife’s.

MA, NA and MB, a 41-year-old former sales manager, a 23-year-old sales consultant and a 28-year-old sales executive with Sama Dubai, who all also worked on The Lagoons project, are charged with making Dh4.85m in illegal commissions from three separate property deals.

It is alleged that in one they asked for a one per cent commission for reselling land owned by a private company, worth Dh1.35m, through Sama. They are also accused of asking for a commission of Dh1.11m for the resale of land belonging to a sheikh.

In a third deal, they allegedly asked for Dh2.37m from Damac for the resale of three plots of land it owned in The Lagoons.

Farhan Faridoni, the CEO of Sama, said in a statement that company policy did not allow employees to operate as property middlemen: “The role of employees is merely to facilitate financing procedures in case investors wished to transfer their property to another investor.”

All four defendants are also charged with revealing company secrets in the form of price lists and the names of owners.

This, added Mr Faridoni, was in breach of a “secrecy clause” in their employment contracts and in agreements between Sama and its client.

A fifth defendant in the Sama case is charged with accepting a bribe of Dh650,000. AH, a 32-year-old Syrian and former manager at Damac, is also charged with conspiring with MA and MB to take illegal commissions from Damac over the resale of three plots.

Hamdi al Shiwi, MA’s lawyer, told the court the men’s actions “were permissible and legitimate as they are not criminalised by a specific legal text”.

His application for his client and co-defendant to be released for any bail terms the court saw fit was refused.

My client has been detained for all these months for actions which are not criminal acts, therefore precautionary detention is not justified,” he said. “He is an Emirati and a resident of Dubai, therefore there is no risk of flight.”

The men, he said, had deserved the commissions, which had been earned outside their official duties and in a personal capacity. Lawyers for the four other defendants agreed and asked the court for time to examine the 4,000-page prosecution case file.

In the second trial, two former executives with Nakheel were charged with asking for a bribe in the form of an extra two per cent commission for themselves on the sale of land on Nakheel’s Palm Jebel Ali project.

KM, 28, an Egyptian former sales executive, and WJ, 32, an Emirati former sales manager, are said to have taken a commission of Dh5.13m on a deal worth Dh265m. This was in excess of the commission charged by Nakheel that was included in the price.

Mr al Shiwi, who also represents KM, applied in vain for his client’s release on bail, claiming there was a lack of compelling evidence. “My client has been in custody for 10 months while investigations continued, no evidence was shown by prosecutors,” he said. Sameer Jaafar, WJ’s lawyer, also pleaded for his client’s release on bail; he was an Emirati, a senior manager and his place of residence was known. He had already spent seven and half months in detention.

The prosecution’s key witness, an American sales consultant at Nakheel, said in a statement that in June 2008 he learnt that WJ was prepared to sell several sea-facing plots of land on the Palm Jebel Ali that had been reserved for a five-star hotel. In return for the sale, WJ was asking for an extra two per cent cash commission for himself and KM. AD, 31, said he pretended to go along with the men’s plans but later told officials at Dubai Holding what was going on.

more on 7days ” Briberiy trial”

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The heartbreaking moment in Dubai – Marnie Pearce might be never see their children again

Posted by 7starsdubai on March 15, 2009

Source The SUN UK

dubaimum2009Blonde Marnie Pearce, 40, had been on the run since an arrest warrant was issued against her in the Arab emirate.

The teaching assistant denies her ex-hubby’s claim she committed adultery, a crime in the strict Muslim country.

But Marnie gave herself up and is serving a three-month sentence in a harsh jail before being deported.

Her friends released the heartbreaking video of the mum handing over her sons to their Egyptian dad Ihab El Labban on the steps of the court.

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Dubai – Industrial City official on trial for Dh17m fraud

Posted by 7starsdubai on March 9, 2009

March 09, 2009, 17:29     xpress4me

A senior executive at Dubai Industrial City (DIC) was arraigned on Monday morning on charges of fraud and abuse of public office at the Dubai Criminal Courts.

DIC’s sales manager, Abdel Razak A., 32, is the latest high-level official charged with fraud in the string of probe into white-collar crime by Dubai Public Prosecution in its fraud inquiry.

Abdel Razak is charged with embezzling Dh16.9 million in illegal commissions he allegedly took from companies renting and buying land at the DIC, near Jebel Ali Airport covering 560 million sq ft.

In his testimony to prosecutors, DIC Vice President Rashid Al Ansary said that between June 2006 and July 2007, Abdel Razak embezzled more than Dh30 million.

He added that Abdel Razak received a monthly salary of Dh23,250 in addition to commissions that were granted if sales and rental goals were reached.

Abdel Razak was discovered to have been allegedly informing prospective clients that plots were booked by imaginary customers.

He then informed the clients that a deposit has to be repaid in order to buy out the land from the previous owner and clients would send the money into the account of a mobile phones trading company named Online LLC, pocketing the money for him self.

According to Al Ansary’s statement to prosecutors, Abdel Razak was discovered to have received Dh800, 000 from Utmost Trading in 2007.

An internal investigation then revealed that Abdel Razak was monopolising the plot sales to individuals who paid him large amounts as commissions.

“We contacted directors of Utmost and met with them in our head office, they explained to us all the details of the transaction and when we questioned Abdel Razak, he confessed and paid back the full amount,” Al Ansary told prosecutors.

Abdel Razak was then suspended from work, and his personal computer was seized. Emails and documents were discovered revealing more illegal commissions.

Abdel Razak testified to prosecutors that he did receive Dh800,000 as commission and returned it at the request of his company but also said that this was the commonplace in the market.

“Every one is taking advantage of their company positions and making money but only if that does not affect the company negatively,” the suspect told prosecutors.

He also testified to prosecutors that he informed his clients that Online LLC was his company and he represented it while working at Dubai Industrial City, bringing in high-level clients who make deals worth Dh200 million.

He also stated that he blocked out prime real estate for his best clients and sold it to them, earning the company high profits.

Abdel Razak is due to appear in court again Thursday next week for more witness testimonies.

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Former UAE Minister of State Al Falasi gets two years in jail for fraud

Posted by 7starsdubai on February 23, 2009

original published xpress Dubai

and Gulf News

Former UAE minister of state Khalifa Mohammad Bakhit Al Falasi was on Wednesday sentenced to two years in jail by the Dubai Misdemeanours Courts after being found guilty of fraud and embezzlement.

The charges related to swindling a Lebanese woman of her family’s Dubai-based business, an undisclosed amount of money, believed to be millions of dirhams, and a large property.

Two other defendants – American businessman Salim Helmy Abdullah and Indian businessman Bilal Madhom Raman – were also jailed for two years.

The former minister’s son, Mohammed Khalifa Al Falasi, was acquitted on all charges.

In an exception to its usual policy, an official statement from Dubai Courts named all the defendants.

Presiding Judge Hamad Abdul Latif also initiated an action for a civil suit which is to be filed on behalf of the victim against the three defendants.

The charges, brought by Lebanese businesswoman Maysoon Fahmy Jamal, led to the former minister’s dismissal by a presidential decree last July, just five months after his appointment.

continue reading Gulf News

read also

Dubai court acquits ex-minister of fraud charges



Prosecutors fight former minister’s fraud acquittal



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