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Lawyer jailed 3 years for embezzling £60m from Thailand’s ex-premiere

Defendant pleaded not guilty, denied 6 charges

Gulf News

Dubai: An Emirati lawyer faces three years in jail for embezzling £60 million (Dh348 million) from Thailand’s ex-prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, over a £150 million deal to sell England’s premier league football club Manchester City.

The 46-year-old lawyer was found guilty of embezzling the cash after it was deposited in his law firm’s bank account as an entrustment, for the Thai premier to purchase the football club.

On Thursday, Dubai Appeals Court upheld a primary judgment which found the lawyer guilty of embezzling the amount.

Meanwhile, presiding Judge Saeed Salem Bin Sarm upheld not guilty verdicts on different charges of breach of trust, embezzlement, attempted swindling and forgery.

The accused pleaded not guilty before the Misdemeanour and Appeal courts relating to charges of defrauding and embezzling Shinawatra’s money.

The appellate court agreed with the lower court’s verdict that the lawyer was not guilty of embezzling $25.45 million from Shinawatra which he had transferred to the defendant’s account. He was cleared of three other embezzlement counts, forgery and fraud.

Meanwhile the claimant’s civil lawsuit has been referred to the Dubai Civil Court.

Thursday’s judgment remains subject to appeal before the Cassation Court within 30 days.

Prosecutors accused the lawyer of convincing the former Thai premiere to open an account in his name and transfer the money to avoid it being seized by European authorities due to the political tensions that Shinawatra faced in Thailand.

The former premiere did so after agreeing to be commissioned to run the account, but the defendant, according to prosecutors, embezzled the money that was deposited in his personal account.

The defendant’s advocate contended that the case was based on photocopies and prosecutors failed to present documents that were stamped or signed by the claimant.

The accused countered the authenticity of the documents submitted. The defence contested that the signatures were forged and that this was evident when prosecutors asked the claimant about the original copies of the documents subject to dispute but Shinawatra, who was sentenced to jail in absentia by a Thai court over different fraud charges, failed to submit the original copies.