Fugitive US businessman returned to Dubai

AP News
Posted: Sep 01, 2012 11:36 AM
Fugitive US businessman returned to Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A fugitive American businessman fighting fiscal corruption charges in Dubai has been returned to the United Arab Emirates after fleeing to Yemen, a spokesman said Saturday.

The return of Zack Shahin to UAE custody ends his bid to get American diplomatic assistance to return to the U.S. via Yemen and presumably escape a legal battle in Dubai dating back to 2008.

He denies any wrongdoing and, after four years without a trial, questions whether he will receive fair treatment.

The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi had no immediate comment.

Shahin, who was born in Lebanon and raised in Ohio, was detained by Yemeni authorities last month after slipping into the country. He was released from a Dubai jail in July after posting a $1.4 million bail following a hunger strike that brought the U.S. government into a rare public dispute with its close UAE ally over Shahin's demand for a trial.

Washington-based spokesman Darren Spinck said Yemeni authorities put Shahin on a plane Saturday to be returned to the UAE "without a court hearing on extradition."

No other details were immediately available on Shahin's whereabouts, but his flight could become a fresh point of tension between the U.S. and the UAE.

Shahin faces charges of financial improprieties during his time as CEO of a Dubai-based property company, Deyaar Development. Deyaar was one of a host of Dubai-based developers that shot to prominence during the emirate's building boom last decade. He was arrested in 2008 as part of a probe into alleged embezzlement by executives at the company.

American officials in the UAE took an unusually public role in advocating for Shahin's right to a trial as his health deteriorated from the hunger strike and other ailments such as high blood pressure.

Spinck said the 52-year-old Shahin had at least three medical "emergencies" while in Yemeni custody, but no details were immediately available.

The seven-state UAE federation, which includes the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, is OPEC's third-largest oil producer. It maintains strong economic ties with the U.S. and hosts important American air bases and other strategic sites.