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Sun 10 Jun 2012 11:16 AM

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Sunland says it will appeal Dubai fraud ruling

Australian developer's civil case over Nakheel land transaction was dismissed last week

Sunland says it will appeal Dubai fraud ruling
Sunland was accused of concocting a lawsuit to avoid bribery charges against it in Dubai.

Australia’s Sunland Group
has said it will appeal its civil case against a Melbourne businessman who
the property developer accused of deceiving it in a US$14m land transaction in Dubai.

The Gold Coast-based firm
accused Matthew Joyce and Angus Reed of duping it into paying the multimillion
dollar consultancy fee to release a plot in Nakheel’s cancelled Dubai Waterfront project,
but a judge dismissed the case last week.

“[We] disagree in the
strongest possible terms with the judgment handed down,” a Sunland Group
spokesperson told the Sydney Morning Herald, adding it would appeal the

Justice Clyde Croft said
Sunland’s case had “failed in all respects and will be dismissed”. He added
that he would forward relevant documents to the Australian Securities and
Investments Commission to review Sunland’s corporate governance.

Sunland alleged it paid the
US$14m fee to Reed’s Prudentia Investments. Reed has said that at no time did
he or his company hold an enforceable right to land, and said Sunland was aware
of that.

In turn, Sunland was accused
of concocting a lawsuit against Joyce and Reed to avoid bribery charges Dubai.

Justice Croft said Sunland had failed to disclose that the firm and its Middle
East CEO, David Brown, are under investigation for bribery related
to the purchase of the piece of land, or that Brown is currently under house
arrest in Dubai.

The collapse of Dubai’s real
estate bubble in 2008 saw several executives jailed, following a year-long
clampdown on corruption and fraud largely linked to state-backed companies.

Sunland Group last year said
it would exit its investment in the luxury Palazzo Versace hotel in Dubai,
which it constructed under a joint partnership with UAE developer Enshaa.

In exchange, Enshaa said it
would relinquish its stake in the Palazzo Versace Gold Coast, and Sunland would
take full ownership of the project.

The Australian developer
said in 2009 it planned to exit Dubai after completing its projects, after
posting a full-year net loss of US$145m.