U.S. businessman appears in Dubai court after fleeing bail

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 06, 2012 8:21 AM
U.S. businessman appears in Dubai court after fleeing bail

DUBAI (Reuters) - A U.S. property developer who fled the United Arab Emirates while on bail appeared in court on Thursday after being deported back to Dubai and will be charged with leaving the country illegally, the public prosecutor said.

Zack Shahin, former chief executive of Dubai-based property developer Deyaar, was detained in 2008 on embezzlement charges and went on a hunger strike in May this year in protest against being held without a ruling on his case.

He was released on $1.4 million bail in July after Washington expressed concern about his health but fled for Yemen which sent him back to Dubai. His lawyers had hoped he would be deported to the United States.

The court canceled Shahin's bail and he will remain in jail to face the embezzlement case, Dubai Attorney General Essam Al Humaidan said in a statement.

Dubai, a trade and tourism hub in the UAE famed for its futuristic skyscrapers, suffered a property crash when the global economy stumbled in late 2008, causing billions of dollars in project cancellations and thousands of job losses.

After the crash, the Dubai government launched a sweeping corruption investigation in which several executives of government-linked companies were arrested on embezzlement charges.

Shahin's U.S. lawyer said he was pleased that his client was now being held in a regular jail, rather than the more secretive detention conditions he faced after deportation.

"Regarding the immigration charge, this was expected. The judge had earlier said that would be a possibility but that he would not be charged with breaking bail," lawyer James Jatras, currently in Dubai, told Reuters.

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Shahin's lawyers said last month that he feared for his life after threats were made against him in the UAE. A Dubai security official denied such threats had been made.

One of the accusations Shahin faces is that he embezzled $100,000 from Deyaar. He has denied that, saying the money was paid to him as an incentive bonus approved by the company's board of directors, according to a background document released by his lawyers in July.

(Writing by Mahmoud Habboush; Editing by Mirna Sleiman and Robin Pomeroy)