From the Sydney Morning Herald 20 July 09
Two Australian businessmen have been formally charged with fraud, almost six months since they were thrown into a Dubai prison.
Marcus Lee, from Sydney, and Matt Joyce, from Melbourne, were arrested in January on suspicion of bribery while working on a development project for the United Arab Emirates government-owned Nakheel property group.
Mr Joyce's lawyer Martin Amad today told ABC Radio formal charges had been laid, although the exact details of the allegations were still not known.
"We've just received the charges yesterday and we haven't had a chance to have it translated," he said.
The charges are related to fraud.
The men were each held in solitary confinement for seven weeks, had been moved between three prisons and were struggling to deal with their detainments, Mr Amad said.
Although he had yet to read the prosecutor's brief, he suspected the case against the pair was weak.
"A particular set of circumstances may lead to charges in Dubai, but may not be sufficient in Australia and I think that's probably the case here."
The federal government has confirmed 91 Australians have been arrested in the UAE - most in Dubai - since January 2008.
Mr Amad said the figure was unlikely to recede, given foreigners were increasingly being made scapegoats for soured business deals.
"More and more people are now starting to understand the risks in doing business overseas," he said.
"With the impact of the global financial crisis, I think more and more people will be charged on similar allegations and I think Australians and the Australian Government need to be aware that this is a distinct possibility."
Mr Amad said in a statement later that the wives of Mr Joyce and Mr Lee, and Mr Joyce's three children, were all in Dubai awaiting the outcome of the legal proceedings.
"The experience, and concern about the eventual outcome of the case, has taken its toll on the two men and their families," he said.
The pair were now being held in Al Awar Central prison, where they were allowed non-contact visits once a week, Mr Amad said.
The defence was looking forward to presenting its evidence and believed the case against the pair should be dismissed, he said.