After spending nearly three years in jail, Court of Appeal concludes bounced cheques should never have been banked
A Dubai court has again cleared Safi Qurashi, the UK businessman who spent nearly three years in a Dubai jail for bounced cheques, of criminal charges and has ordered the his complainant in the case to repay him over AED40m ($10.8m).
The property developer, who went on hunger strike for seven weeks before being released from jail, was previously cleared of bounced cheques charges.
In the latest court judgement, his complainer and former partner, listed as SD, was ordered to repay over AED40m owed to Qurashi and concluded the security cheques SD presented for payment, and which subsequently bounced and resulted in his conviction, should never have been banked.
“It has taken three years to finally prove my innocence in all three cases lodged against me in the criminal courts. The Supreme Court in 2012 had already overturned two cases with the third one pending. Now that the Court of Appeal has ruled in my favour after experts looked into the cases and evidence - I can finally overturn the third case against me,” he said.
Qurashi, who famously paid $60m for the Great Britain manmade island on Nakheel’s The World development in 2008, was accused of bouncing three cheques in property deals in Dubai and was given a seven-year jail term after a 2010 trial.
He served more than two and a half 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.
Qurashi used the latest ruling to appeal to Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum to review Dubai’s banking system, which makes it a criminal offence to bounce a cheque.
“There are many lessons to be learnt here. Companies and individuals are using the Dubai criminal courts and the cheque law in its current position to wrongfully claim for money that they are not entitled to. This is largely due to the fact that criminal courts do not consider evidence or whether the complainer has any entitlement to the value of the cheque.
“At times and certainly what has been highlighted in my cases is that the victims of fraud are being jailed in certain bounced cheque cases. The real criminals are the ones who sign contracts and collect postdated cheques and then fail to honour the contracts. They then use the postdated cheques if they bounce or are stopped to open criminal cases and effectively blackmail people into making payments.
“The contracts that have been signed are never considered in almost all these cases. The fact that the claimant has not delivered his/her part of the contract becomes irrelevant and this results in a great injustice.”
Qurashi has since set up a new real estate firm, the Q Group, and will soon announcement plans for the launch of the Great Britain island on The World.