Dubai: Two former administrators of a prestigious university on Tuesday denied the charge of taking up to Dh20,000 in bribe from each student who failed TOEFL and IELTS examinations that determine the student’s proficiency in English.
Prosecutors stated that the two suspects, a Russian and a Lebanese, are accused of abusing their positions at the university’s admission office and accepting bribes from more than 20 students, who had failed in the TOEFL and IELTS.
The defendants were said to have tampered with the students’ results of examinations, a prerequisite for university admission, and had their names registered between December 2011 and January 2014.
The Lebanese, who is in custody, and the Russian, who is on bail, firmly refuted their accusations when the entered a not guilty plea before the Dubai Court of First Instance.
“No, I am not guilty,” the Lebanese suspect told presiding judge Mohammad Jamal in court. The Russian also pleaded not guilty.
As per a previous court decision to refer the case file to prosecutors to give a modified and detailed accusation sheet, interrogations revealed that the duo accepted bribes ranging from Dh4,000 to Dh20,000 from 13 students. The suspects also took unspecified amounts of bribes from more than seven students for the same purpose, according to records.
Prosecutors said the defendants abused their jobs as administrators at the university’s admissions office and registered the students who had failed.
The duo exploited the authority granted to them to access the university’s e-system and tampered with the students’ grades, adding remarks and making them eligible to be admitted, according to records.
A university director testified to prosecutors that the forgery was discovered while carrying out a routine check of the academic results.
“I discovered that five new students had been enrolled in the university without having their TOEFL and IELTS examination results registered in the system. I checked this out with the Russian suspect, who alleged that he had taken those students’ results but forgot to key them into the system. He showed me the photocopies of the results of two students, an Emirati and a Lebanese, but I told him that the original copy of the examination results is a must. I checked those results on the IELTS’ official website and discovered that they had failed. I called up the Russian suspect and claimed to him that an unknown person told me over the phone that those results were forged and that he had accepted a bribe to enrol those failed students.
“Immediately he confessed to me that the Lebanese suspect [who had been expelled earlier from university] called him and asked him to enrol those two students despite their failure … he alleged that he did it as a favour. The university’s top management expelled the Russian suspect as well. Further investigations unveiled that more students had been enrolled in the university although they had failed the required exams. We came to know that those students had paid an average of Dh15,000 to Dh20,000 … one student also paid $10,000 to the Russian suspect,” claimed the director.
Police arrested the defendants shortly after the university decided to take legal action against them.
Some of the nationalities of the students, who were enrolled in the university despite having failed the required exams and were later expelled after the bribery incident was discovered, are a Lebanese, an Emirati, a Yemeni, a Kazakhi, a Saudi, a Russian and others.
Presiding judge Jamal adjourned the case until defence lawyers hear prosecution witnesses’ statements when the court reconvenes later this month.