Safi Qurashi, the UK businessman who spent nearly three years in a Dubai jail, has been cleared by a civil court for bouncing a cheque for AED10m (US$2.7m).
The property developer, who went on hunger strike for seven weeks last year before being released from jail, used the verdict to call on UAE authorities to amend regulations regarding bounced cheques.
“A lot of heartache and pain could have been avoided if only the criminal court took the responsibility of saying that a bounced cheque does not necessarily mean someone has committed fraud,” he told Arabian Business.
“I know I am not alone in sharing the view that the bounced cheque situation requires urgent review and further action by the UAE authorities,” he added.
“As my case and many others perhaps further highlight, police and prosecution officials in the Emirates need to be given the legislative powers to be able to consider mitigating circumstances in bounced cheque cases and establish criminal intent before referring cases to the criminal courts for cheque fraud.”
Qurashi was accused of bouncing three cheques in property deals in Dubai and given a seven-year jail term after a 2010 trial.
The businessman served two years in jail before being cleared of two counts of cheque fraud after the courts heard that he had written them as security and that they should have been returned to him rather than cashed.
The case was referred to the civil court, which on Tuesday ordered Greenfield Trading pay Qurashi AED1.5m plus compensation after the judge ruled his AED10m security cheque should not have been cashed.
“The civil court final judgment shows that I owed him (Greenfield Trading) absolutely no money and he has to pay me AED1.5m plus compensation. It has vindicated me in a civil court and unanimously proved that I don’t owe him anything,” he said.
Qurashi said the latest criminal charges filed against him by property developer Nakheel, which refer to a plot of land he bought on its Dubai Waterfront development, has been moved from the criminal courts and is currently under investigation with the real estate committee.
His legal team has claimed that Dubai Waterfront, a subsidiary of Nakheel, reneged on its contractual obligations and has requested the cheques are cancelled.