By Joanne Bladd
Michael Smith is accused of embezzling AED2.2m from state-linked real estate firm Limitless
A Thailand court agreed Tuesday to extradite a British national to the UAE to face charges of embezzling AED2.2m ($600,000) from a subsidiary of state conglomerate Dubai World.
The Bangkok Criminal Court said that Michael Bryan Smith, 43, had dropped his appeal against its previous ruling, paving the way for his immediate extradition to the UAE, AFP reported.
Thailand has no formal agreement treaty with the Gulf state.
Michael Bryan Smith was arrested in Bangkok in May 2009 after spending eight months on the run. Smith, who is married to a Thai woman, is accused of funneling workers’ salaries into his own bank account while working as a personnel manager at Limitless, a unit of Dubai World, in the first five months of 2008. The amount is thought to total $600,000.
The UAE issued a warrant for his arrest in August 2008 on charges of forgery and illegal possession of stolen funds.
British-born Smith has repeatedly protested his innocence, claiming that UAE authorities have not produced any evidence as to why he should be charged or extradited.
Is it understood he has now agreed to return to the UAE to fight charges of forgery, betrayal of trust and illegal possession of stolen funds.
Police said Smith had travelled through Vietnam, Hong Kong and the Philippines after fleeing Dubai in 2008, before being arrested in Thailand.
Will they lock him up on arrival or allow him time at large to establish his case I wonder ?
Full credit to the UAE authorities for their perseverance in getting to the bottom of this matter and ensuring that they managed to locate the alleged fraudster. This should serve as a warning to others that no matter where they are , the law is going to catch up with them....sometime, someplace!!
Add the comment will it be a fair trial as everybody so far appears to have pre-judged him guilty. All the advanced media coverage etc.
Also does anybody know what the real figure that he is accused of embezzling is? In one media source it says 2.2 million Dirhams, in another $150 million, big difference. Although, I doubt they'd go to the expense of extradition if it was 2.2 million Dirhams.
Not sure if it is for the Briton to pull this fast one or the internal audit, payroll and finance department for having absolutely no control over how it disburses the wages. And that also in such a high profile firm. This reconfirms the fact that while growing, no one bothered to do a health check. There must be more than that meets the eye. He cannot be the only one to get so much money through payroll disbursement, but well, he is the scapegoat. Its a limitless non-governance.
Interesting to see the UAE going after 'alleged fraudsters' who have supposedly 'disappeared' with (relatively small) amounts of money.
However, one may question why it has taken so long and how much money they may have spend in persuing this case ? This doesn't seem like a good ROI to me !
While it seems that the UAE is prepared to take action to pursue the recovery of relatively small amounts of money like this, it seems unable, unwilling or incapable of dealing with far more serious 'fraud' issues closer to home.
I and about 500 other investors have waited nearly four years to get refunds on several hundered million dollars of 'paid but never started' off-plan property developments.
Shouldn't the Government prioritize chasing the fraudsters by the amount that is involved rather than who they are or where they are from ?
There would have to be more than one perpetrator to pull off this and the HR department would have to be complicit with the scam. It means there were absolutely no check at all or signatures from the workers as to the receipt of their wages. Surely too the ban would have been roused by the amounts going into the account .