Dubai's Safi Qurashi cleared of bouncing $2.7m cheque

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Safi Qurashi.

Safi Qurashi.

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.

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Posted by: V4 vendetta

I did n't see any apology to Mr Safi or any compensation for destroying his business, his reputation or his family life!
Who will pay for the injustified 2 years in jail?
any comment on these points?

Posted by: Paddy

Arabian Business should be applauded for highlighting that Dubai cheque law jails innocent people and that Safi Qurashi was one businessman who did something about it.

Social injustice is an important topic for the business community, especially as hundreds of people still remain in prison. Safi?s continued belief in Dubai and documented business activity since his release, should act as an inspiration to business people everywhere.

Of course he has not made the front page and there are a million other things to report on, but well done to Arabian Business for good reporting.

Posted by: Patrick Meehan

Arabian Business should be applauded for highlighting that Dubai cheque law jails innocent people and that Safi Qurashi was one businessman who did something about it.

Social injustice is an important topic for the business community, especially as hundreds of people still remain in prison.

Safi?s continued belief in Dubai and documented business activity since his release, should act as an inspiration to business people everywhere. Of course he has not made the front page and there are a million other things to report on, but well done to Arabian Business for good reporting.

Posted by: Ulevpri

The whole thing is so wrong. He signed a cheque and everyone knows what this means! He should not walk free, he should be made responsible for signing cheques knowing there is no money on his account. If such people walk free now, we can just cancel the rules for cheques and bouncing cases, since it seems you can walk free after signing. If its like this cheques have no value anymore... you sign it, but you walk free even if it is bouncing! everyone can give a security cheque but this means nothing anymore! Totally wrong sign and judgement!

Posted by: Andy

@ Telcoguy,

This is not ignorance. I take it that you are not a local and you must be able to get a credit card in your native country. My native country of which my credit card is issued is the US. I managed to apply for my credit cards before I left the US to Asia. Here in Asia it is not easy to get a credit card either for expats but I would not sign a blank check over to them just to get them to issue me a credit card. If one does this then one is either desperate or a fool to do so. Like how the casinos want 20% in cash advance fees. They take advantage of desperate people who need money.

I personally would not apply for a credit card in the UAE if they required me to sign over a blank check to them. The laws and system is set up in their favor and not yours so the person accepting their credit card with their terms is either ignorant or desperate if they have to sign over a blank check because the law clearly states that you are responsible for any amount that you sign for.

Posted by: Andy

@Dave,

We all know that the local laws are written in favor of the locals and not the expats so with this in mind if you do write a local a check or anyone a check as an expat then you must consider that money gone and paid for. Violation of a contract is one thing and bouncing a check is another thing in the eyes of the local courts and laws. I saw hotels offering to apply for visas for visitors to Dubai with a 5000 Dhms. Security deposit which will not be returned or refunded to you until you leave the UAE and send them a copy of your exit stamp in your passport. In the UAE it is always pay first and fight for your rights after lol..

If a Bank wants a blank check from you for a credit card then I would not give them one as we all know how our word holds up in court after. The bottom line is that the rules and regulations are set up to have you squeezed by your testicles.

Posted by: Dave

Andy, your statements show little or no experience in the Gulf. When it comes to cheques being bounced, it does not matter as to what any contract says. A cheque bounces, and that is enough to send the signer to jail once the "complainant" has registered a case with the bounced cheque notice.
There was a case in the papers, where a man paid a cheque for renting a factory. The owner of the factory refused to rent it put and then cashed the cheque, and the last update was the cheque signer arguing in the court that since he did not get the factory, his cheque shouldnt have been cashed.
Contracts etc are all considered but only after the signer of the cheque spends some time in jail/court
As for the comparison with the USA, that is laughable too. Most banks ask cheques for credit cards here. Similarly, many people have to take loans because of the absurd system of paying 6 months or 1 years rent upfront, they need to sign a cheque before they get that loan as well.

Posted by: Andy

@ Who you fooling,

Then the contract was not written out properly. The contract should state that the check is only valid provided that say for example the house is handed over and provided that the house is not handed over then the check is considered void and must be returned. The other side would need to sign and initial that part of the agreement.

@Telcoguy,

I have many credit cards in the US. Never did I need to sign a blank check to the bank in return for them giving me a credit card. If that were the case I wouldn't accept the credit card from them nor would I hand them a blank check signed by me. People that do this are either desperate or stupid. It can only happen to you if turn a blind eye to what could happen by signing over a blank check. Common sense tells most people not to do such a thing. In the UAE many will ask for the unreasonable but if you accept then you have no one but yourself to blame for accepting. Not saying that what they ask for is right.

Posted by: who you fooling

@Telco guy,
Of coarse I understand it and I know full well it could happen to me, I have been to Al Aweer taking money to more than one friend. And yes the bank could cash my cheque even though I am 7 aed in credit on my master card and 30 aed in credit on my visa card, this could result in me going to jail or being on bail fighting the case, thats my point its wrong. If I default fine but cashing a cheque when it should not be cashed should be punishable not the other way round!!

Posted by: Red Snappa

Hopefully this case will highlight the changes required in the legal system.

For example, the encashment of undated guarantee cheques, for the full original amount that is to be repaid by installment, are a completely unfair weapon and is probably a criminally fraudulent act in its own right by the very nature that it is usually a considerably reduced amount that is still outstanding.

These cheques are not issued with any premeditated intent to deceive, of course you do not have an equivalent amount in your bank account, otherwise why would you elect to repay by installments. In fact, you quite likely will never have that amount at any one time in the account. Therefore, reversing the roles, is it not a fraudulent act to encash that cheque, knowing that the money is not in the account and the amount owed is significantly less than the face value of the cheque, or in fact the encasher is not entitled to it at all.

There are many wise judges around the world who would agree!

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