By Gavin Davids
Stricter punishment is more likely after pair had their statuses changed to government officials
A Dubai court restarted a fraud trial against two former executives of Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) on Sunday having changed their status to government officials, making a stricter punishment more likely.
The two, and five other suspects, are accused of defrauding DIB, in which the Dubai government owns a 30 percent stake, of 1.8 billion dirhams ($496.5 million). It was not clear why they were charged previously as private sector workers.
The UAE penal code stipulates more severe punishment for government employees and UAE law treats all workers in state related entities as public sector employees.
Dubai, the Gulf's tourism and trading hub, launched an anti corruption campaign in 2008 that saw the arrest of several high profile business figures, including government ministers.
Since its debt crisis, Dubai, one of the UAE's seven emirates, has been doing forensic audits at state linked firms.
The two men, Pakistani citizens, were arrested in 2008 and first appeared before a Dubai criminal court in March this year.
But prosecutors refiled the case against the two defendants on Sunday after the court asked them to do so in August, charging them as government officials.
Dubai police have not been able to arrest two of the other suspects, a US and a Turkish citizen, who fled the country.
Prosecutors say the seven suspects swindled DIB by submitting "documents and invoices about fraudulent deals".
The case also involves three British businessmen who are being detained in Dubai and are facing trial.
Last December, Dubai adopted a new law under which the state can impose prison terms of up to 20 years for financial crimes.
The law came a little over a month after Dubai World, the emirate's largest conglomerate, shocked global markets when it asked creditors for a payment standstill on no less than $26 billion of debt. (Reuters)