Former CEO of Dubai’s Deyaar sentenced for theft and fraud

The American businessman was arrested in 2008 during an investigation into financial irregularities

Dubai Criminal Court has reportedly sentenced the former chief executive of real estate development company Deyaar and two others to 15 years each in prison on charges relating to theft and fraud valued at Dhs 56.3m.

Gulf News reports that American Zack Shahin pleaded not guilty to allegations of conspiring with his two countrymen, executives M.J and G.B., to pay an inflated price for a plot of land they represented the owner of in Houston, Texas, in November 2007.

The other defendants did not enter a plea as they remain at large, according to the publication.

The ruling came following four years at Dubai Courts where Shahin has stood trial in a number of cases.

The businessman was arrested and jailed in 2008 during an investigation into financial irregularities while at the head of the company.

He later went on hunger strike in May 2012 and was released on Dhs 5m bail in July that year. Following this, Shahin attempted to flee the country but was arrested in Yemen and brought back to the UAE.

In a charge sheet issued by Dubai’s Public Funds Prosecution in May 2012, it also accused Deyaar’s Malaysian former head of legal department, Pakistani ex-financial manager, Australian former engineering department vice chairman, Lebanese ex-director of international projects and Indian ex operations chief of involvement in the graft case, according to Gulf News.

Prosecutors said Shahin abused his authority and conspired against Deyaar by submitting a feasibility study for the purchase full of irregularities. This was submitted to Deyaar’s late chairman, who consented to the purchase after a fake contract was submitted falsely showing that the seller had the title deed.

Four of the eight subjects in the case were charged in absentia. Five of the eight were acquitted based on a lack of evidence.

The court also fined the three men Dhs 56m and ordered them to pay back a similar amount to Deyaar.

“The convicts will have to pay Dhs 201,000 in civil temporary compensation to Deyaar,” said presiding judge Mohammad Jamal. “They will be deported following the completion of their punishments.”

Shahin has appealed Sunday’s ruling. He has been acquitted in a number of other cases.

Another major graft case against him is still pending.

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