Tawteen fraud case referred to special panel

The head of a customer service training company denies his contract defrauded the Emiratisation organisation of more than Dh100,000.

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ABU DHABI // A criminal court yesterday referred to a special panel the case of an Omani businessman charged with defrauding Abu Dhabi Tawteen Council of more than Dh100,000.

The panel will study whether the man's company was qualified for the job for which it was hired - a key element in the fraud allegations.

The businessman, AH, is the chairman of a business consultancy that provides customer service training in the region.

Prosecutors accused him of defrauding the council of Dh143,500 after he failed to honour a contract to hone the skills of young Emiratis and integrate them into the workplace. His trial began in September and he has been free on bail.

The Criminal Court of First Instance ruled yesterday that the case should be studied by a special panel from the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department. The panel will decide whether the company was accredited and qualified to integrate Emiratis into the workplace, and whether the value of the contract was exaggerated.

AH has pleaded not guilty. He said he had set up seven training centres in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain with more than 350 employees, two per cent of whom were Emiratis.

Tawteen officials alleged during previous hearings that the defendant lied when he told former council officials, who signed the contract in 2007, that his company was licensed in Abu Dhabi.

He replied to the court that his company was licensed in Dubai and he was obtaining a licence in Abu Dhabi when the contract was signed. His company was licensed in Abu Dhabi in February 2010, he said.

"I am qualified to handle the job and my centre has licences from several countries in the region," AH told the court. "It was licensed this year in Abu Dhabi. I do not understand how I defrauded them; I built several centres in various areas in Abu Dhabi."