Dubai: The Jeddah Criminal Court awarded a six-year jail term to an African diplomat for embezzling SR70 million from two businessmen, local media reported on Sunday.
The victims of the fraud are a Saudi timber merchant based in Medina and another businessman from a neighbouring Gulf country. The fraudster, who served earlier as a deputy speaker of parliament and president of a governorate in an African country, reached the Kingdom where he engaged in the fraud, misusing his diplomatic immunity.
The court ruled that the fraudster shall return the equivalent amount of $6 million in Saudi riyals to the Saudi businessman in one go while it rejected the lawsuit filed by the Gulf businessman for his failure to attend the court sessions. The court ordered the fraudster’s deportation from the country after completion of the trial procedures and serving jail term and slapped a ban on his return to the Kingdom.
The case dates back two and a half years when the Saudi authorities, in cooperation with the Interpol, managed to bring the fraudster back to the Kingdom and put him in Jeddah jail to face trial following lawsuits filed by the two businessmen. According to the charges, the 67-year-old accused had arrived in the Kingdom on a diplomatic passport and got acquainted with the Saudi and Gulf businessmen.
He was successful in convincing them that he owned forests in Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Senegal. He agreed with the Saudi businessman to host him in a palace in Senegal. It was later revealed that the fraudster did not own the palace and had misused it for fraudulent operations.
The fraudster escorted the businessman to a number of forests in several countries and then held meetings with him in Madrid and Paris prior to concluding dealings.
The Saudi businessman hosted the African crook at his home in Medina, and concluded a deal with him to supply wood to Saudi Arabia at about $6 million in down payment, and the fraudster received the amount in cash. The Saudi merchant was forced to sell real estate and other belongings to collect money to conclude the deal.
After two weeks the fraudster played a trick with the businessman claiming that he was leaving the Kingdom, claiming that his brother died and he wants to attend his funeral. The Saudi merchant even accompanied him on the trip to offer condolences.
They travelled together to Paris and the fraudster left the businessman therein and went alone to Senegal. The businessman waited for the return of the African man for about seven months.
The fraudster later came back to the Kingdom and continued his operations to retrieve the remaining amount of the deal.
He also concluded another deal with a Gulf businessman for allegedly supplying precious stones and diamonds for $5 million as down payment.
The trial of the fraudster at the Jeddah court lasted for about 18 months. The Public Prosecutor produced 16 bits of evidence to corroborate the charges against the accused. The fraudster continued to deny his knowledge of the wood dealer despite the testimony of six people.
The Public Prosecution informed the court the fraudster stayed for two weeks in Medina and enjoyed the hospitality of the wood merchant before moving to a luxurious apartment in Al Hamra District in Jeddah to complete the deal.
The Saudi businessman pleaded before the court that the accused cheated him with claims that he was a timber merchant at some times and that he was a dealer of diamonds and jewellery at other times and he managed to secure from him millions of dollars during their meetings in Jeddah, Cairo, Abu Dhabi, Paris and various African countries.
The victim also claimed that the defendant practiced sorcery on him, as he was asked to bring a black chicken, slaughter it at home, and bury it outside the building. The businessman was also asked to bite his own clothes as part of the black magic.