Former minister al Falasi given suspended sentence for fraud

A former minister of state was given a suspended one-year prison sentence for defrauding a Lebanese woman of her family's Dubai-based business.

DUBAI // Khalifa Bakheet al Falasi, a former minister of state, has received a suspended one-year prison sentence after being found guilty of defrauding a Lebanese woman of her family's Dubai-based business. The verdict of the Dubai Court of Cassation brought an end to a long case that has twice been before the emirate's highest appellate court. Al Falasi was initially convicted in a criminal court, and subsequently acquitted in an appeals court. His case was then returned to that appeals court by the Court of Cassation after its first hearing for a retrial, which again acquitted him.

The charges, brought by Maysoon Fahmy Jamal, a Lebanese businesswoman, led to al Falasi's dismissal by presidential decree in July 2008, five months after his appointment. The Court of Cassation also sentenced the American businessman Salim Helmy Abdullah and the Indian businessman Bilal Madhom Raman to one year's suspended sentence and deportation. Ms Jamal, who had been involved in business dealings with al Falasi since 1995, is the sister of al Falasi's business partner in a Dubai-based technology firm, records showed.

She said that between May 2005 and May 2008 al Falasi and the other two defendants, who were employed under him, swindled her by tricking her into signing a release form in order for the former minister and his partners to take over the company. She said the group falsely informed her that al Falasi was the partial owner of the company and that he approached her with offers that could boost her other businesses.

Al Falasi and his co-defendants denied the accusations, claiming their dealings with Ms Jamal were legal.