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The Dubai Courts building. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Dubai Court has sentenced the owner of a real estate company to three months in jail and fined him Dh673,000 for cheating investors in UAE through fake property deals.

According to records, the businessman had established several offices of his company in different emirates of the UAE and conducted advertisement campaigns on social media for a massive residential project outside the UAE. He had sold the proposed property units to more than 600 investors, before the scam came to light.

Dubai Public Prosecution had charged the owner and his advertisement manager with fraud. Dubai Court of Appeals later overturned the verdict and cleared the manager of the charges, while holding the owner responsible for the fraud.

The real estate company neither had a licence to build property units outside the country, nor did it have a licence from Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Agency to collect monthly instalments from clients in UAE. The Dubai Court of Misdemeanours found the owner and the manager guilty.

False promise

One of the victims claimed that he had signed a contract to buy a property unit for $176,400 (Dh648,799) and paid nearly Dh309,000. He was promised that the apartment would be ready after three months. However, a letter from the authority in the country concerned stated that the project had not been granted permission for construction. An official in Dubai testified that many clients lodged complaints and the company was told not to collect instalments from the public. It was also slapped with a fine of Dh50,000.

Bader Khamis

‘Just an employee’

Lawyer Bader Khamis, who represents the manager in this litigation, appealed the verdict citing lack of evidence. He claimed that the defendant was just an employee and did not collect money from the victims.

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“My client works as an advertising manager and his role is limited to marketing for the owner, according to his job profile. He didn’t receive the victim’s money [in his capacity as an individual],” Khamis reasoned before the judges.