Australia launches new probe into Sunland's Dubai claims

Securities and Investments Commission heads new investigation into bribery allegations - report
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)
By Courtney Trenwith
Tue 16 Apr 2013 10:41 AM

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has launched an investigation into the developer Sunland Group over potentially misleading statements released to the market in 2009 relating to Dubai bribery allegations, Australian media has reported.

According to The Australian Financial Review ASIC will probe announcements Sunland made to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) on February 20, March 2 and July 21, 2009, regarding the Dubai authorities’ investigation.

Australians Matthew Joyce and Angus Reed have been under house arrest in Dubai for four years, accused of duping Sunland into paying a $14m consultancy fee to release a plot in Nakheel’s cancelled Dubai Waterfront project

In a highly publicised court judgement in Australia last year, Justice Clyde Croft denounced Sunland’s ''fabrications'' and claimed the company had an ''ulterior motive'' for bringing the case – to support its fraud allegations in Dubai.

Sunland’s appeal against the decision started on Monday. The company has called for a retrial, claiming the judgement was “a serious miscarriage of justice”.

Meanwhile, ASIC confirmed to an Australian Senator this week that it had launched its own investigation – which could also see billionaire media mogul James Packer brought under scrutiny. Packer was director of Sunland until he resigned and sold his shares in August 2009.

“ASIC has interviewed and examined a number of people and obtained documents during the course of its investigation,” ASIC regional commissioner Warren Day wrote to the Senator last week, according to the AFR.

“ASIC is currently seeking information from Dubai authorities to clarify the nature of the Dubai investigation prior to Sunland’s announcements.”

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