DUBAI // A prominent lawyer cleared of stealing almost Dh350 million of the money paid by Abu Dhabi for Manchester City football club has been sentenced to jail for three years.
KM, 45, an Emirati partner and manager of a well-known Dubai law firm, was acquitted of embezzlement and forgery but convicted of breach of trust.
He acted for the former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in his 2008 sale of City, now the reigning English Premier League champions, to Abu Dhabi.
The firm controlled an escrow account in which millions of dirhams for the sale were held.
The lawyer appeared in the Dubai Misdemeanours Court in March last year accused of embezzling £60m (Dh341m) of the £150m in the account.
Prosecutors said he used Dh39.5m from the Man City sale to buy a villa in Emirates Hills.
He was accused of embezzling €15m (Dh67m) after Mr Thaksin asked him to receive a money transfer on his behalf and deposit it in a Montenegran bank account in his name.
Records show the lawyer convinced Mr Thaksin to keep the money in the law firm’s bank account to avoid political pressure, but later transferred it into his own account.
He was also accused of trying to fraudulently take control of a Dh176m private jet by forging the signatures of authorised executives at international companies.
The defendant allegedly emailed bank transfer documents bearing the executives’ forged signatures to the jet maker Bombardier in Canada, in an attempt to take over a Bombardier Global XRS Aircraft worth US$48m (Dh176m).
Court papers show he asked for the aircraft to be registered to “World White Investment Corporation”, which records show he owns.
The defendant denied all the charges, saying: “I am a military justice chief and have a clean record, and by God’s grace it will remain clean.”
He insisted all the money in his account had been kept safely and that he had not taken a dirham.
“I kept them safe, your honour,” he said. “I did not breach trust – I honoured that trust.”
His defence lawyers insisted Mr Thaksin had no legal standing because the law firm was acting for UK Sports, not the former prime minister.
The defendant asked the court to consider the corruption charges faced by Mr Thaksin, and the fact that he was his firm’s client.
The verdict is subject to appeal within 15 days.