Dubai municipality workers charged in bribe scheme

Prosecutors say they offered to reconnect power to villas and eliminate fines in exchange for Dh350,000.

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DUBAI // Two men working for the Dubai Municipality denied seeking Dh350,000 in bribes for reconnecting electricity to 16 villas, a court heard this morning.

The two suspects, AF, a 37-year-old building inspector from Egypt, and his section head, WA, 27, told the Criminal Court of First instance that the incident did not happen.

Court records said the villa owner, identified as HD, owed Dh350,000 in fines and lost power for having more than one family living in each home. AF and WA told him that they could reconnect the electricity, wipe his slate clean and make sure he was not cited for any more violations for one year if they paid the fines directly to them, prosecutors say.

Court records said the suspects were recorded having a telephone conversation with HD in which he complained that the power had been disconnected and said he only had Dh150,000, promising to pay the remainder during the next few months. 

Records show AF inspected the villas on different dates in July 2010 and fined 16 of them after he found that more than one family in each villa. HD said that when residents called him complaining about the power loss, he met with AF. He told prosecutors that AF instructed him to visit the his section head to discuss the issue. 

WA, according to prosecutors, failed to answer HD's phone calls and sent him a man who worked for him, who confirmed that HD owed Dh350,000 in fines.

He told prosecutors that he was suspicious about being asked to pay the inspector directly, and eventually went to the police. Officers told him to pretend to suspects that he wanted to pay, records show.

AF is accused of asking him to pay Dh150,000 and give him a rent-free villa for one year, or pay the full Dh350,000 in cash. HD said the suspects told him the offer was valid for one year, during which he would not receive any other warnings or fines, according to records. 

AF was arrested with the money in his possession after HD informed police about when he would meet to hand over the cash. 

The next hearing was scheduled for February 28 for witness testimony.