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Thu 30 May 2013 03:31 PM

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Nakheel lawyer 'bribed' in Sunland case - document

Australian MP reveals secret document in bid to release jailed exec from Dubai prison

Nakheel lawyer 'bribed' in Sunland case - document
The Dubai Waterfront development which was at the centre of the court case. (Photo for illustrative purposes only)

An Australian MP has revealed a document that appears to show that developer Sunland bribed a former Nakheel lawyer to give false evidence against an Australian man who was sentenced to 10 years’ jail in Dubai earlier this month.

Under the protection of parliamentary privilege – a common privilege in Western countries that allows MPs to make allegations and comments without fear of prosecution – Victorian shadow treasurer Tim Pallas said the document revealed a secret deal between Gold Coast developer Sunland and lawyer Anthony Brearley to give evidence for use in court cases in Dubai and Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Earlier this month, the Dubai Ruler’s Court jailed Matthew Joyce for 10 years and fined him $25m on property fraud charges over a 2007 property deal relating to Nakheel’s Dubai Waterfront development.

Joyce, who was Dubai Waterfront’s general manager at the time, was found guilty of pocketing $6m in the plot to swindle Sunland out of more than $12m to secure a development plot known as D17.

Sunland claimed Joyce and the manager of Australian company Prudentia, Angus Reed, falsely claimed Prudentia had rights over D17 and that it would not have otherwise paid the fee.

Reed also was jailed for 10 years in absentia. Joyce’s junior colleague Marcus Lee was acquitted.

Joyce, who spent nine months in jail in 2009 before being released on bail, is appealing the decision.

"I’ve been convicted based on the evidence of a witness who was found by an Australian court to have lied,” he said following the verdict on May 20.

During a related lawsuit in Australia last year, Sunland executives were found to have not only lied but deliberately falsely accused Joyce and co-defendants. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) also is investigating whether Sunland provided false information to the Australian Stock Exchange during the saga.

Sunland executive David Brown is one of the signatories to the deed tabled by Pallas on Thursday.

The deed, signed on January 27, 2010, shows Sunland promised not to sue Brearley over the Dubai deal if he swore an affidavit containing evidence that the company would use against Joyce and other co-defendants.

It also included that Brearley "specifically must not disclose this deed or the fact of this deed to any Dubai authorities".

Brearley, who lives in Australia, was initially named among defendants to the Dubai case but was not included when verdicts were handed down.

"I regret to inform the house that shocking new evidence has arisen of witness tampering that seems to have been specifically designed to damage the interests of Mr Joyce," Pallas told the Victorian Parliament.

"I believe the information provided to [the parliament] is critical to ensuring that justice prevails and that Mr Joyce comes home.

"I have here a deed that unequivocally demonstrates the lengths to which Mr Joyce's accusers have gone to falsify the evidence against him, both in Dubai and in Australia."

He said Joyce had been "falsely accused of criminal behaviour, extraordinarily by another Australian company, which was under investigation for bribery".

Pallas also revealed details of Joyce’s seven weeks in solitary confinement in a Dubai prison.

"He did not see light of day once in this period,” Pallas claimed.

“The room was 2m by 3m, with no windows or bathroom and a grass mat in the corner for a bed. When he was finally allowed to see his wife a month later, he was white, clammy and weeping, with sores from the cold floor and malnutrition."

Fairfax Media, publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald, said Sunland had obtained a court injunction preventing the deed from being published, but it did not apply to parliamentary privilege.