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Thu 10 Nov 2011 08:09 AM

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Jailed Brit’s family petition UAE embassy over case

Safi Qurashi’s family appeals to the British government to intervene in bid to secure his release

Jailed Brit’s family petition UAE embassy over case
Safi Qurashi was jailed in 2010 after being found guilty of cheque fraud
Jailed Brit’s family petition UAE embassy over case
Safi Qurashi was jailed in 2010 after being found guilty of cheque fraud

The daughters of jailed British property developer Safi
Qurashi has handed in petitions to the UAE Embassy in London as part of a
month-long protest aimed at securing their father’s release.

Thirteen-year-old Sara and 10-year-old Maaria are holding a
30-day vigil outside the embassy, accompanied by a dozen family members, in a
bid to raise the profile of their father’s case.

“We are hoping for the embassy to open and to accept the
letters the girls have prepared and a detailed letter from our lawyer stating
where the law has not been followed in this case,” a Qurashi family member told
Arabian Business. A petition on the website ‘justiceformydad.com’, established
by Qurashi’s daughter Sara, has attracted hundreds of signatures.

 “That is taking place
today and we are hoping the ambassador or his secretary will accept the letters
from the children.”

Safi Qurashi, the London-born businessman 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 the
Briton 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. It is understood the FCO is assessing the case and, pending its decision,
may request a meeting between its lawyer and the office of HH Sheikh Mohammed
Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

“We have specifically requested that with the FCO and I
think tomorrow I will have an update,” the family member said. A request for a
meeting with Alistair Burt, the Foreign Office minister, has also been put
forward.

Qurashi rose to fame as the owner of the 4.5-hectare island
that is part of The World, a man-made archipelago of reclaimed sandbanks
located off the coast of Dubai.  He had initially planned to build a mix of
hotels, residential and commercial buildings on Great Britain, but the scheme
stalled in the wake of the global financial crisis.

According to the site ‘Justiceformydad.com’, Qurashi had
acted as a “middle-man” in a number of deals that saw clients transfer money
into his company in exchange for his purchasing land on their behalf.

In exchange for the money, Qurashi signed security cheques
over to the client that should have been returned on completion of the land
deal, the website claims. Instead, the cheques were cashed, leading to
Qurashi’s arrest and imprisonment for cheque fraud.

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The London-born developer was later found guilty of signing two
cheques with insufficient funds and cancelling another.

The family has previously appealed to the British government
to request its counterparts in the UAE to re-examine the case. A 115-page case
review written by Tarique Ghaffur, the former assistant commissioner of the
London Metropolitan Police, said in February it believed Qurashi may have been
wrongly convicted.

In a statement to Arabian Business, UK-based Fair Trials
International, which has lobbied on behalf of Qurashi, urged the Dubai
Government to reconsider the case.

“We urge the Dubai authorities to… release Safi, who has
already spent nearly two years in jail, so that he can return home to his wife
and children.”

The FCO said in August that he number of Britons arrested in
the UAE fell by nearly a fifth last year, aided by a decline in arrests for
drug offences.

The Gulf state arrested 217 British tourists and expatriates
between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011, down from 265 arrests in the same
period a year earlier.

The British Embassy said in 2009 that Brits were more likely
to be arrested in the UAE than anywhere else in the world.

joseph 8 years ago

To bad do your time, to many similar type business men jumped on the band wagon and deprived investors of their savings in Dubai now they must pay the price. Howver this does not return to investors lost savings

JJ 8 years ago

Around the world, thousands of people signed security checks for the mortgages of properties purchases in Dubai. Some already flew out of UAE and some are still trying to live with it. Unless this problem is considered from a wide angle to fairly treat the victims of the agents doing business at boom time, Qurashi's story might be repeated again and again. Some will be lucky to have family support and some will face 7 years if not more.

Haroon 8 years ago

Safi is a friend and an innocent victim of the property market crash in Dubai. The unfortunate normality in this kind of situation is that entrepreneurs who took great personal risk in bringing opportunity to the masses end up as the victims of fate. They are one-sidedly reviled, as they are the minority compared to the equally ambitious investors who parted with their monies in the hope of making a lot more - these investors' intentions are never questioned. Safi's fate is inextricaby linked to the fate of the Dubai property market. The collapse was sharp, deep and unforseen, and affected everyone. Had it not been so deep, Safi would not have encountered the problems in the first place. Go blame the bankers on Wall Street - they're the people who knowingly sold crap products. And what about those unpunished bigwigs who hide behind huge Dubai corporations that purport to have protection? Dubai needs to enact legislation to protect innocent people that supported its rise to fame

Haroon 8 years ago

So, Joseph, was it just businessmen who jumped on the bandwagon? Were investors also not lured by the promise of high returns etc. We are all victims (me in both capacities) of the debacle that is the property market in Dubai.

Laith 8 years ago

We are not here to hold the bankers on Wall Street accountable but we sure are going to hold Qurashi and his ilk accountable.

Andy 8 years ago

I think this person deserves his jail time. He wrote out and signed the check so he clearly felt that someone was supposed to get that money. If you write out a check and sign it to someone then you owe that person that amount of money in which you signed for. It is collateral for something. One does not write out and sign a check for nothing. Most likely a local did not get this money is why he is in jail.More on check fraud that goes on in Dubai can be done by doing a Google search for Dubai Check Fraud.

irumdarr 8 years ago

It is disgusting that the British Governemnt are hiding behind two little girls. Their failure to address this matter to Senior UAE Officials is disgraceful. The 100,000's Brits that enjoy life in Dubai should take this seriously as it could easily effect the, According to UAE Law Safi should NOT be imprisoned. How many other prisoners , British or others who do business in Dubai are languishing in Dubai's jails because of errors. Banking errors, compliance errors with Central bank, poor legal representation initially has left a man branded as a criminal... ALL Busines communities in Dubai and the region should be supporting this man's cause. If he has paid the money and the LAW protects him , why is no one willing to start meaningful dialogue. I hope that these little girls voices dont fall on deaf ears

Aruba 8 years ago

I think everything has to be handled sensitively especially these cases . The world project has not taken off , there are many more like Robin who sold the Nikki Lauda project and ran away . If this guy has been caught giving him 7 years jail term is too long . I agree he must have been greedy like so many others and may have thought that it will go well but sometimes these things don't happen . The judicial system is fair and straight forward and should, think practically that has the world project moved , it is still the sea and none of the others who bought it have even put a brick they have been sitting and talking to nakheel and working out options . Pls give him a chance .

Telcoguy 8 years ago

Andy, according to previous reports the checks were fully paid.
You can apply your own advice to yourself and google about him.

Abu Fares 8 years ago

A great lesson for unscrupulous developers. They need to know that they will languish in jail for a long time to come. The UAE is not their playground anymore.