Dubai Properties chief arrested

UPDATE 2: Attorney General confirms arrest on suspicion of embezzlement at real estate firm.
Dubai Properties chief arrested
UNDER ARREST: Dubai Properties chairman Hashim Al Dabal.
By Bloomberg
Fri 30 Oct 2009 03:43 PM

Hashim Al Dabal, chairman of Dubai Properties, has been arrested on suspicion of embezzlement at the company, the emirate’s attorney general confirmed on Friday.

“Mr Al Dabal is accused of abusing his position and earning millions in illegal profit,” Attorney General Essam Essa al-Humaidan said in a phone interview.

“We are questioning him almost daily and Mr Al Dabal indicated he is ready to answer questions without having a lawyer present.”

Last year, Dubai began an investigation into corruption in real estate companies, which benefited from surging demand after foreigners were allowed to buy property for the first time.

Several officials were arrested, including Zack Shahin, former chief executive officer of the emirates’ second-biggest property developer, Deyaar Development, and Adel al-Shirawi, former CEO of mortgage lender Tamweel.

Bloomberg calls to Dubai Properties offices seeking comment weren’t answered on Friday.

Al Dabal was arrested about 10 days ago, the attorney general said. No arrangement date has been set and the investigation is continuing, he said. Under Dubai law, he can be held for 21 days, after which he must appear before a judge.

Al Dabal is being held at a detention centre in Dubai police headquarters, al-Humaidan said.

“We’re still trying to determine the extent of Al Dabal’s misconduct,” he said. “When the investigation is complete, all details will be announced.”

The investigation is being “conducted swiftly and, God willing, it will be concluded soon,” he said, adding that Al Dabal will be allowed to meet with a lawyer as soon as he appoints one and his family is allowed to visit him.

Dubai Properties is a unit of Dubai Holding, a group owned by the emirate’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. In August, Al Dabal was appointed as executive chairman at Dubai Holding’s newly created Property Vertical.

Emaar Properties, the UAE's biggest real-estate developer, said in June it was in talks to combine with Dubai Properties and two other state-controlled competitors, Sama Dubai and Tatweer.

The move is aimed at controlling the supply of new buildings amid a glut of homes that drove property prices in Dubai 50 percent lower.

Dubai Properties built Jumeirah Beach Residence, a 1.7km (1.05-mile) waterfront development that includes 36 residential towers, four hotels and retail space.

Emarat Al Youm earlier reported that Al Dabal had been referred for prosecution on suspicion of financial misconduct. It cited Yasir Amerey, the head of the financial supervision department at the Ruler’s Court.

Dubai Holding appointed Ahmad bin Byat as acting chairman of its real estate company, Zawya Dow Jones reported on Thursday, citing the company.

“Dubai Holding and all of its business entities are committed to the highest levels of corporate governance. As such we fully support the Dubai government’s initiatives to uphold these standards,” Zawya Dow Jones quoted the company as saying in a statement.

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