Jail for gang who stole and hid millions in various currencies

Fifteen-strong group serve sentences of between six months and five years following theft from Afghan sales executive.

DUBAI // Three men and a woman who stole millions in different currencies have been sentenced to five years in prison, while 11 others who held the money for them were jailed for six months each.

The four Nigerians stole 4.8 million Saudi riyals, Dh312,000, 45,000 Qatari riyals, 4.9 million Kuwaiti dinars and 150,000 Pakistani rupees on May 9 last year from a sales executive as he tried to exchange the money on a visit to the country.

The money was then given to the 11 men, who said they did not know that it was from an illegal source.

The first accused, 31, was not present in Dubai Criminal Court last September to face charges but his three accomplices, aged 26, 33 and 34, each denied a robbery charge.

Seven of the 11 men told the court they had business relations with the four Nigerians and when they received the cash, the seven thought it was part of payments related to their business deals.

The 34-year-old Afghan sales executive said his boss handed him the money and asked him to fly to Dubai with it.

“On May 9, I took a plane to Dubai and was met by the sponsor’s driver at the airport, then both of us headed to an exchange house to convert the money to dirhams,” said the man.

While at the exchange house at about 11pm, they were attacked and assaulted by four people, one of whom was holding a meat cleaver.

The thieves got away with the bag containing the millions and the two victims called police immediately. Six days later, they received a call from police to attend the station and identify the suspects.

The four thieves were arrested at their apartment in Ajman, where some of the stolen cash was found.

“One of the suspects confessed during questioning that he threw away the Pakistani money in a trash bin in Ajman while some other [money] was transferred to Nigeria upon orders from the first suspect,” testified a 26-year-old policeman, adding that the rest of the gang were arrested shortly after.

All of them will be deported after serving their jail terms.