Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:22 pm (KSA) 09:22 am (GMT)

UAE minister fired for financial scandal

Falasi was Minister of State since February (File)
Falasi was Minister of State since February (File)

The UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has fired the Minister of State who is at the center of an alleged fraud scandal.

A Lebanese businesswoman filed a complaint against the minister, Dr. Khalifa al-Falasi, accusing him of breaching the trust of her family business when he illegally took over assets owned by her family.

According to reports published Monday, Falasi has also been banned from attending cabinet meetings after a lawsuit was filed against him at the Dubai Courts.

He will be tried in September -- along with three other defendants, one of them American -- for embezzlement and aiding and abetting a crime.

If indicted on the two charges, Falasi could face up three years in jail and a 30,000 dirham fine (8,171 U.S. dollars).

Falasi has been Minister of State since Feb. 17, 2008. Before that, he served as Deputy Education Minister and was also the UAE’s first ambassador to Australia. He was also a member of the Consultative Authority of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The legal case goes back to 1995, when the Lebanese woman's brother founded a group of companies in Dubai in partnership with Falasi, as required under the country’s foreign ownership laws.

In addition to the companies that were worth hundreds of millions of dirhams, the two men also owned a building valued at 100-million dirhams.

When the Lebanese businessman died in 2005, Falasi allegedly distributed the inheritance in his capacity as a partner in the companies. Investigations later revealed that he was merely a salaried employee, and not a partner.

Falasi heads several companies working in the fields of information technology, environmental consultancy, and strategic research.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid).

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