Tunisians ‘tried to steal Dh15m of Armed Forces’ money’



Two Tunisians tried to con the country’s Armed Forces out of more than Dh15 million by trying to cash four forged cheques in local banks, a Dubai court heard on Sunday.

The pair, aged 33 and 37, are among seven on trial related to the case.

At Dubai Criminal Court, the two men denied charges of forgery, use of forged cheques, fraudulently obtaining Dh3.02m and attempting to fraudulently obtain Dh3.4m from the Armed Forces’ bank account. They did not get the chance to withdraw the rest of the Dh15m before being arrested, it is alleged.

Three other defendants - a Bangladeshi and German, both 42, and a 35-year-old Egyptian - are charged with aiding and abetting the Tunisians by providing them with their companies’ bank details with two local banks so the cheques could be withdrawn in their companies’ names in return for between 5 to 10 per cent of the total amount.

The trio are additionally charged with possessing the illegally obtained money despite knowing its source. All three denied the charges against them on Sunday morning.

“I haven’t possessed any amounts in my company’s bank account,” said the German defendant to judges.

The Egyptian told judges that he was introduced to the 37-year-old Tunisian when making a business investment.

“I was offered to become partner in return for Dh700,000 profit. After I did, I was shocked to see that Dh3.7m was deposited in my company’s bank account. I asked him about it and he told me it was deposited by mistake but I had no idea the cheque was altered,” said the Egyptian.

A sixth defendant, also Tunisian, 51, denied a charge of hiding three of the other defendants when they were wanted by authorities.

“I didn’t hide them in my flat, it’s the opposite - I was a guest at their apartment,” said the 51-year-old in court.

A 38-year-old Bangladeshi was also charged with refraining from reporting the crime to authorities after he became aware of it, something he denies.

The incident came to light on January 31, one day after the 33-year-old Tunisian deposited a Dh3.8m into his account.

“The Tunisian deposited a cheque on January 30 via the machine, and as per procedure we sent a copy of the cheque to the local bank where the Armed Forces account is, then they sent us the approval, after which he withdrew Dh200,000 on January 31 and another man withdrew Dh1.15m the same day,” said an Emirati bank manager, 45.

The defendants deposited two more cheques that day but later that same day, the Armed Forces’ bank sent a letter to say that the cheques were all forgeries.

The bank manager said the defendants’ accounts were then immediately suspended.

“One cheque with Dh3.7m was deposited into our bank in an account for the Egyptian defendant on January 31 and it was approved, after which he withdrew Dh450,000 and, when he tried to take one million, it was denied by the ATM as the cash was not available,” said a Jordanian manager at another bank.

He said that the next day they received a letter that the cheque was forged.

Police arrested two of the defendants between January 31 and February 2. Three others were arrested in a flat in Oud Metha, Dubai, on February 8.

Police found Dh168,335 in their possession and ATM receipts.

Another defendant was arrested in Oman on February 11 after fleeing the country and the last was arrested on February 24.

The next hearing is on August 20.

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Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
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Investors: Family offices

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Our legal advisor

Ahmad El Sayed is Senior Associate at Charles Russell Speechlys, a law firm headquartered in London with offices in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Hong Kong.

Experience: Commercial litigator who has assisted clients with overseas judgments before UAE courts. His specialties are cases related to banking, real estate, shareholder disputes, company liquidations and criminal matters as well as employment related litigation. 

Education: Sagesse University, Beirut, Lebanon, in 2005.

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The bio

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Ruwais timeline

1971 Abu Dhabi National Oil Company established

1980 Ruwais Housing Complex built, located 10 kilometres away from industrial plants

1982 120,000 bpd capacity Ruwais refinery complex officially inaugurated by the founder of the UAE Sheikh Zayed

1984 Second phase of Ruwais Housing Complex built. Today the 7,000-unit complex houses some 24,000 people.  

1985 The refinery is expanded with the commissioning of a 27,000 b/d hydro cracker complex

2009 Plans announced to build $1.2 billion fertilizer plant in Ruwais, producing urea

2010 Adnoc awards $10bn contracts for expansion of Ruwais refinery, to double capacity from 415,000 bpd

2014 Ruwais 261-outlet shopping mall opens

2014 Production starts at newly expanded Ruwais refinery, providing jet fuel and diesel and allowing the UAE to be self-sufficient for petrol supplies

2014 Etihad Rail begins transportation of sulphur from Shah and Habshan to Ruwais for export

2017 Aldar Academies to operate Adnoc’s schools including in Ruwais from September. Eight schools operate in total within the housing complex.

2018 Adnoc announces plans to invest $3.1 billion on upgrading its Ruwais refinery 

2018 NMC Healthcare selected to manage operations of Ruwais Hospital

2018 Adnoc announces new downstream strategy at event in Abu Dhabi on May 13

Source: The National

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Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
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Favourite holiday destination: Thailand. I go every year and I’m obsessed with the fitness camps there.

Favourite book: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It’s an amazing story about barefoot running.

Favourite film: A League of their Own. I used to love watching it in my granny’s house when I was seven.

Personal motto: Believe it and you can achieve it.

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Milestones on the road to union

1970

October 26: Bahrain withdraws from a proposal to create a federation of nine with the seven Trucial States and Qatar. 

December: Ahmed Al Suwaidi visits New York to discuss potential UN membership.

1971

March 1:  Alex Douglas Hume, Conservative foreign secretary confirms that Britain will leave the Gulf and “strongly supports” the creation of a Union of Arab Emirates.

July 12: Historic meeting at which Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid make a binding agreement to create what will become the UAE.

July 18: It is announced that the UAE will be formed from six emirates, with a proposed constitution signed. RAK is not yet part of the agreement.

August 6:  The fifth anniversary of Sheikh Zayed becoming Ruler of Abu Dhabi, with official celebrations deferred until later in the year.

August 15: Bahrain becomes independent.

September 3: Qatar becomes independent.

November 23-25: Meeting with Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid and senior British officials to fix December 2 as date of creation of the UAE.

November 29:  At 5.30pm Iranian forces seize the Greater and Lesser Tunbs by force.

November 30: Despite  a power sharing agreement, Tehran takes full control of Abu Musa. 

November 31: UK officials visit all six participating Emirates to formally end the Trucial States treaties

December 2: 11am, Dubai. New Supreme Council formally elects Sheikh Zayed as President. Treaty of Friendship signed with the UK. 11.30am. Flag raising ceremony at Union House and Al Manhal Palace in Abu Dhabi witnessed by Sheikh Khalifa, then Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

December 6: Arab League formally admits the UAE. The first British Ambassador presents his credentials to Sheikh Zayed.

December 9: UAE joins the United Nations.

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Founded over 50 years ago, the National Archives collects valuable historical material relating to the UAE, and is the oldest and richest archive relating to the Arabian Gulf.

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