20200918 Dubai Courts
Dubai Courts Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: The Dubai Court of First Instance has found a group of 19 people guilty of money laundering, embezzlement and illegally obtaining Dh184 million from a law firm.

According to records at the Dubai Court, a 44-year-old who used to work in the law firm was the main suspect in the embezzlement case. The other defendants were charged with criminal abetting and possession of the embezzled funds.

The main defendant and the three others defendants have been sentenced to three years in jail, while nine defendants were sentenced to one year in jail.

The court ordered two defendants to pay a fine of Dh20,000. Four defendants were cleared.

The defendants were accused of forging official documents and using them to set up four legal consultancy firms in different countries while illegally obtaining the firm’s money.

“One of the defendants withdraw Dh25 million from a bank and another defendant withdraw Dh22 million,” Emirati lawyer Salem Al Shaali, owner of Al Shaali Company Advocates and Legal Consultants, said in court hearing.

The owner of the Dubai-based law firm alleged that he discovered in 2017 that the prime defendant, along with the rest of the defendants, had embezzled the money by forging documents. The prime defendant illegally accessed the firm’s database, copied information about clients and forged e-documents, saying that the firm had been restructured before sending forged letters to clients, it was alleged.

Earlier, Al Shaali told Gulf News that the defendant managed to open a supplier account number at a large automotive corporation in Europe, with assistance from a 45-year-old defendant who is still at large. The supplier’s account number was used so that the firm’s clients could deposit money to that account and fraudsters access those funds.

The lawyer said 50 bank accounts of the defendants were seized by UAE Federal Prosecution, Dubai Public Prosecution and Bahrain Public Prosecution.

Al Shaali said the key defendant was working for his company since 2009, but the alleged embezzlement was discovered only in 2017. “Checks on one of the internal accounts finally revealed the scam. The defendants had created a company in a free zone and in other countries to embezzle the money,” Al Shaali alleged.

Dubai Public Prosecution has charged the key defendant with embezzlement of Dh183.6 million belonging to the law firm. It has also charged the prime defendant with leaking data to clients for the benefit of companies established by him with his wife and the other defendants in UAE and other countries.

Moreover, the court ordered to confiscate the defendants’ money and issued a fine of Dh500,000 to the three companies established by the defendants.

The court ordered deportation of convicted defendants after serving their jail terms.

The verdict will be subject to appeal within 15 days.