Employee of development company Sunland Group is there as bribery witness, says owner
Article from: AAP, 2nd March '09
A development company part-owned by James Packer denies one of its employees has been arrested in Dubai over a bribery scandal, saying he's simply acting as a witness in the investigation.
Fairfax reported three property industry heavyweights were among a number Australians arrested in Dubai over property-related allegations.
One of the men named in the report, David Brown, is the Middle East head of the Sunland Group, a development company part-owned by Mr Packer, while the others, Marcus Lee and Matthew Joyce, worked for the state-owned Nakheel development company.
According to Fairfax, the allegations involve millions of dollars in consultancy payments by Sunland to Nakheel and another party over the purchase of a waterfront property.
But Sunland on Monday denied Mr Brown had been arrested, saying no allegations had been made against the company or its executives in relation to the scandal.
"Sunland advises its chief operating officer - Middle East, Mr David Brown, is a witness to the authority's investigation," a statement from the company said.
"He is not the subject of investigations, nor has he been arrested or detained as is stated in the press articles."
Sunland managing director Sahba Abedian said the firm supported the Dubai investigation.
"Sunland fully supports the Dubai government's commitment to ensure the region's property market is transparent," Mr Abedian said in the statement.
"We will continue to provide assistance where required.
"Maintaining the highest ethical standards in all our dealings has long been a core value of Sunland."
A lawyer for two of the men arrested said both had denied any wrongdoing.
Australian lawyer Martin Amad said his two clients, whom he would not name but were believed to be Mr Lee and Mr Joyce, had been held in solitary confinement without charge since their arrests on January 25.
"I put in a phone call to DFAT (the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) last week and I'm awaiting a return call from them," he told ABC Radio today.
"Hopefully we can meet with them to see what, if anything at all, the Australian government can do about two of its citizens in a foreign jail where they are being kept for investigation without charge."
DFAT on Monday said a report that 13 Australians had been detained in connection with the property scandal was wrong.
"It is not correct to say that the large majority of the Australians are being detained due to the building industry collapse," a DFAT spokeswoman said.
"Australians in UAE under detention/arrest are charged with a range of offences, from relatively minor to relatively serious.
"Some of the cases remain under investigation by local authorities and date back to February 2007."
DFAT said the number of Australians detained or arrested by local authorities in the UAE can fluctuate on a daily basis.