By Claire Valdini
US businessman has spent four years in prison and six weeks on hunger strike
The former CEO of Dubai real estate developer Deyaar, detained since 2008 on charges of embezzlement, has been granted bail, his lawyer has said.
The judge set the bail for Zack Shahin, who has been on hunger strike for six weeks, at AED5m ($1.4m), his lawyer Eric Akers told The Financial Times. The judge demanded the retention of his passport and the submission of a UAE national’s passport as a guarantee against leaving the country.
Shahin, detained under suspicion of corruption as part of a clampdown by authorities on financial wrongdoing, was arrested over alleged embezzlement by executives at Deyaar. He later became the target of other investigations into alleged fiscal wrongdoing at the company.
The American businessman, who has denied any improprieties, was one of several expatriates jailed in Dubai on hunger strike in protest against the lengthy prison sentences given to them for financial crimes.
The men are mostly real estate developers who fell into debt when the emirate’s five-year property bubble burst in 2008 amid the global financial crisis.
The United States last month urged UAE authorities to release Shahin and deal with his case in a “transparent manner”.
“After more than six weeks, obviously there are serious concerns about Mr Shahin's health,” the US charge d'affaires in the UAE, L Victor Hurtado, said in a statement.
“We continue to urge the authorities to release him on bail, as has been approved but not carried out in the past. In addition, we urge that the several outstanding pending cases against Mr Shahin can be consolidated, allowing him to defend himself more effectively,” he added.
British businessman Safi Qurashi, who has served nearly three years of a seven-year sentence, said this week he expects a Dubai court to decide on his bail application following review of his case by the emirate’s Attorney General.