Property salesmen caught in sting

Two men are sentenced to three years in prison and fined Dh3.8 million for pocketing Dh3.08m in illegal commissions.

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DUBAI // Two former property salesmen were sentenced to three years in prison and fined Dh3.8 million (US$1m) yesterday for pocketing Dh3.08m in illegal commissions. KM, 28, an Egyptian former sales executive, and WJ, 32, an Emirati former sales manager, both worked for the developer Nakheel, where they sold land on the Palm Jebel Ali. They were found guilty at the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance of charging an extra two per cent - Dh5.13m - on a land deal worth Dh265m.

The judge, Fahmi Mounir, pronounced the sentence in the absence of the two defendants, who had not been brought from jail. The pair were caught after the main witness, AD, an American sales consultant at Nakheel, arranged with AA, the head of the audit department at Dubai World, to trap them in an internal sting. AD told prosecutors he pretended to go along with KM's plans, who asked him to find a buyer for a seaward-facing plot of land on the Palm Jebel Ali which had been reserved for a five-star hotel. KM told AD the buyer had to be willing to pay an extra two per cent commission in cash over the regular fee.

The witness, in co-ordination with AA, found a middleman, NJ, who had a company willing to pay two per cent extra for the land. After NJ's customer paid the 10 per cent down payment to Nakheel for the land, AD told prosecutors KM told him not to hand NJ a receipt unless he got the extra cash. AD arranged to meet NJ at the Radisson SAS Hotel at Dubai Media City. AD said he went with KM to the hotel but that KM waited in the car while he went to meet NJ who handed him a black sports bag stuffed with Dh5,134,260 in cash.

AD said they drove to KM's residence at Discovery Gardens to divide the money: "(KM) gave me 40 per cent of the cash, Dh2,050,000, and said he would split the rest of the money with (WJ)." AD said that after KM called him later that day to tell him WJ got his share, he went straight to AA at Dubai World and handed over the Dh2.05m K M had given him.