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Ex-Tamweel executives handed jail terms

Former chief executive found guilty of bribe-taking.

May 31, 2010 9:51 by

The former chief executive of Islamic lender Tamweel and three other officials were handed jail terms by the Dubai criminal court on Sunday, following a corruption probe aimed at boosting transparency in the Gulf Arab emirate.

Adel Al-Shirawi, who was dismissed as Tamweel chief executive in 2008, was found guilty of accepting bribes and profiting from the sale of land in a Dubai project and sentenced to three years in jail.

In addition to the jail term, Al-Shirawi was fined and ordered to repay funds.

His deputy, Abdullah Nasser, was also convicted and sentenced to three years in jail.

Dubai, which is in the midst of restructuring massive debts at state-linked companies, embarked on a high-profile anti-corruption campaign in the wake of the financial crisis.

In March, the government detained the former governor of its flagship financial district amid alleged irregularities and said similar cases would be brought before the courts in the future.

“Dubai is looking back at all the deals in the past and subjecting them to scrutiny to address any issues that remain outstanding, whether it’s from a financial point of view, as seen by the restructurings, or a criminal probe,” said Ayman Khaleq, a partner at Vinson & Elkins.

The Tamweel arrests were part of a series of high-level detentions of bankers and property officials in Dubai that shook the financial establishment, as the government tried to root out corruption in the regional trade and tourism centre.

The court also gave one-year jail terms to other Tamweel officials, Feras Khaltoum and board member Saad Abdul-Razak, finding them guilty of squandering funds.

Khaltoum was former head of investments at Tamweel and chief financial officer at Istithmar World, a unit of state-owned Dubai World which is currently in talks to restructure $24.8 billion in debt.

Abdul-Razak was also the former chief executive of Dubai Islamic Bank and a director at Investment Corporation of Dubai, another sovereign fund which controls some of the emirate’s biggest companies.

A lawyer for three of the defendants — Al-Shirawi, Abdul-Razak and Khaltoum — said they would appeal the sentences.

All four men were acquitted of breaching trust.

Tamweel is one of the United Arab Emirates’ biggest mortgage lenders along with Amlak. The two firms, hard hit by Dubai’s property collapse, are being restructured by the government and have not traded since 2008.


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