Australian sees Nakheel fraud verdict within weeks

Matthew Joyce was charged with fraud linked to Nakheel’s Waterfront project in 2009
Australian sees Nakheel fraud verdict within weeks
Joyce is the former managing director of Nakheels Waterfront project
By Claire Ferris-Lay
Tue 29 Nov 2011 12:18 PM

An
Australian businessman and former managing director of Nakheel’s Dubai Waterfront
project said Tuesday he expects to know whether he will jailed in Dubai within weeks.

Matthew
Joyce, who has a civil case pending against him in Australia by Queensland-based
Sunland Group, said a verdict will be delivered by the Gulf emirate’s courts within
seven weeks, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Joyce, who
spent nine months in jail before being bailed, was charged in 2009 with fraud
relating to state-owned Nakheel following an emirate-wide crackdown on
corruption.

Joyce,
along with fellow Australian Angus Reed, were accused by Sunland Group of
duping the company into paying a $13m consultancy fee to release a plot in the
Waterfront project.

The fee
was allegedly paid to Reed’s Prudentia Investments Pty, a charge denied by the
pair.

Reed has
said that at no time did he or his company hold an enforceable right to land,
and said Sunland was aware of that.

Reed, who
is currently living in Australia, has been identified by UAE authorities as a
“fugitive”, the newspaper reported.  

Joyce
has successfully argued for Sunland’s civil case, which accuses him of misleading
and deception conduct, to be heard in the Victorian Supreme Court prior to the
Dubai judgment.

The
collapse of Dubai’s real estate bubble in 2008 saw several executives jailed,
following a year-long clampdown on corruption and fraud largely linked to
state-backed companies.

London-born
businessman Safi Qurashi, who paid $60m for an island in the shape of Great
Britain on Nakheel’s The World, was told this month he must serve his full
seven-year jail term after being found guilty of bouncing millions of dirhams
worth of cheques by a Dubai Court.

A judge
in Dubai’s Court of First Instance upheld the sentence following an appeal,
quashing the hopes of the Qurashi family that he would be released.  

The
family has lobbied the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to appeal to
the Dubai government and request a review of Qurashi’s case.

The
family last month held a protest outside the UAE Embassy in London in a bid to draw
attention to the case and press for the British government’s intervention.

Sunland
Group in October said it would exit its investment in the luxury Palazzo
Versace hotel in Dubai, which it constructed under a joint partnership with UAE
developer Enshaa.

In
exchange, Enshaa said it would relinquish its stake in the Palazzo Versace Gold
Coast, and Sunland would take full ownership of the project.

The Australian
developer said in 2009 it planned to exit Dubai after completing its projects,
after posting a full-year net loss of $145m.

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