courts

Four accused of offering Dh98m in bribe to port official

They wanted official to help release seized containers of banned sandalwood

18:10 March 15, 2017
 The containers were seized as sandalwood

Dubai: Four men have been accused of offering Dh98 million in bribe to a manager at the Ports, Customs and Freezone Corporation and paying him Dh50,000 to make him help release 98 seized containers.

The four Indian men — a businessman, a sales director and two salesmen — were said to have offered to pay Dh98 million to the manager and they also paid him Dh50,000 to allure him to help them in releasing 98 containers, which were seized at Jebel Ali Port in December.

The quartet, aged between 33 and 46, tried to entice the manager and lure him into accepting the money, according to records, to help them drive the seized containers out of the port and move them to the warehouse area in the port and empty them there.

The authorities had seized the containers that contained sandalwood that is prohibited from being brought into the country, said records.

The manager reported the matter to law enforcement officers who asked the manager to play along and get the four men apprehended in a sting operation.

Prosecutors accused the four Indians of promising the manager a bribe of Dh98 million and paying him Dh50,000 in bribe.

According to the accusation sheet, prosecutors said the accused attempted to instigate the manager and talk him into accepting the money for abusing his job [as a public official at the corporation] and assisting them in releasing the seized 98 containers and then have them offloaded at the warehouse area inside the Jebel Ali Free Zone.

The four men pleaded not guilty before the Dubai Court of First Instance on Wednesday.

The manager testified to prosecutors that he knew one of the suspects for a long period of time and the latter called him while he was away on holiday.

“The suspect, whom I had known for long, called me and asked me to meet up with a friend of his … that friend turned out to be one of the suspects. I tried to avoid meeting that person, but upon the insistence of the suspect whom I knew, I met him at the hotel where I stayed. The friend [second suspect] claimed to me that he had a company in Eastern Europe and wanted to do business with me. Later I returned to the country … when we met again, the four suspects were present. Once they informed me that they wanted me to help them in releasing the containers that had been seized for containing sandalwood, I reported the matter to the authorities,” the manager told prosecutors.

Prosecution records showed the manager cooperated with law enforcement authorities that apprehended the suspects in a sting operation.

The trial continues.