By Shane McGinley
Jailed British property developer's release on bail may be delayed until after a final hearing later this month
Jailed British property developer Safi Qurashi had the remaining four-and-a-half years of his seven-year sentence quashed by Dubai’s highest court today and his family is optimistic he will be released on bail ahead of a final hearing later this month.
Qurashi, who rose to prominence when he paid US$60m for a manmade island in the shape of Great Britain on Nakheel’s ‘The World’, was convicted to seven years in jail in 2010 for allegedly bouncing three cheques.
Following two expert reviews of the evidence, Dubai’s Attorney General referred the three cases against Qurashi back to the courts, with a recommendation that the judgments be reconsidered.
At a hearing of Dubai’s Cassation Court, the emirate’s highest, the judgment in relation to the first two cheques was quashed.
While Qurashi has another hearing later this month in relation to the third cheque, which the Attorney General has also recommended be revisited, his family is optimistic he may be released on bail later on Monday in advance of this final court appearance.
The London-born property developer, who moved to Dubai in 2004, operated mainly as a middle man for a number of deals at the Dubai Waterfront project and entered into a joint venture to develop the Monaco and Iraq islands on ‘The World’.
In both deals, he forwarded security cheques to his partners, which he claimed should have been returned to him on completion of the transactions. Instead, these were cashed, leading to Qurashi’s arrest and imprisonment for cheque fraud.
Two of the cheques, which the Cassation Court ruled on today, referred to the Dubai Waterfront case. These were the subject of the first expert review submitted to the Attorney General.
Qurashi claimed the fact the expert report concluded the cheque should have been returned to him demonstrated that he could not have bounced the cheque, a view which was endorsed by today’s ruling.
In an English translation of the second report, relating to the Moscow and Iraq islands on the ‘The World’, it was stated the security cheque in this case should also have been returned to Qurashi as he had ordered the bank to stop it and had filed a complaint against the holder with Dubai Police.
“The cheque was returned by the drawee bank due to 'stopping of collection' as the drawer alleged that the cheque was stolen… and that [Qurashi] opened a police case against the payee with the charge of stealing the cheque,” the expert report says.
“The expert deems that [Qurashi’s partner] is not entitled to Cheque #788, amounting to AED7,191,175.00, accordingly the same shall be returned to [Qurashi],” the report concluded.
“If that is what the expert has concluded and that cheque has to be returned… well, it is that cheque I am serving a three-year sentence for… If it is supposed to be returned to me then I couldn’t have bounced it,” Qurashi said last month.
With the Cassation Court due to revisit the judgment on the third cheque later this month, it is possible Qurashi may have to remain in custody until a verdict is delivered in this case.
Qurashi’s family is currently seeking bail ahead of his final hearing later this month.For all the latest real estate news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Well done safi, you perservered and continually fought to clear your name. Hopefully you will get released and can clear your name. Ramadan Kareem
Great News!! Ramadan Kareem to you and your family! Must give credit also to the Attorney General for bringing this case back into courts and all the people who have spent years fighting on behalf of the Qureshi family!! God bless you all!
Many congrats! It's high time laws prescripting blanket criminalisation of bounced cheques are reevaluated and fixed so that many other innocent people languishing in prisons can get some justice as well.
About time too.
glad to see the rule of law taking its course. well done Dubai.
Out of interest does anything happen to his partners who presented the security cheques and caused all this issue?
Congratulations to Mr Safi. Good news for his family. This honest man never deserved this. This is a good gift for Ramadan to all honest people.
Great news at long last, just hope that you and your family will soon be able to put this nightmare behind you and get on with your lives,
Very happy to hear this for Safi' family.
What happens to the guys who should have returned the cheques back. Now that Safi has lost a couple of years of his life, not to mention the grief & hardship his family and him have gone through.
Is there any action being taken on these guys or they go scot free?