Sunday, 15 February 2009

The Dubai fraud case reaches the Australian press

From the Sydney Morning Herald, 15th Feb 2009

Australians in Dubai face fraud charges
* Taghred Chandab, Dubai
An Australian man appointed to spearhead the construction of the world's largest coastal development has been arrested in the Middle East after a government investigation into alleged corruption and bribery.

Matt Joyce, 44, and an unnamed 43-year-old Victorian man were taken into custody in Dubai on January 25 and charged with fraud.

The Sun-Herald understands that a third man, from Queensland, was also detained and questioned in relation to bribery allegations but was later released.

A spokesman for Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed the men had been charged with fraud.

"We understand both men will apply for bail but it is unknown if it will be granted," he said. "The Consulate-General visited the men last week and is providing them and their families with support."

Joyce joined Nakheel, the government-owned parent company of Dubai Waterfront, and the United Arab Emirates' largest developer with a portfolio estimated to be worth $US80 billion ($122 billion), in April 2006.

He was the chief executive of Sydney-based property developer St Hilliers before moving to Dubai.

He was one of five Dubai Waterfront senior managers who were recently made redundant as a result of the economic downturn and was due to leave the company in April.

The arrest of the Australian men comes after more than 20 executives were detained in the past year for corruption. Many of the senior managers, who worked for government-owned companies, remain in jail without charge.

If the men are found guilty they face a lengthy jail term followed by deportation.

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