Investigation into graft in Dubai
Clouds in the form of a series of corruption investigations in Dubai became a storm last week with the news that a senior board member of a state investment fund had been detained. Adel Shirawi, vice-chairman of Istithmar and former chief executive of the home-finance company Tamweel, was detained on allegations of embezzlement.
Executives at state-linked companies have been increasingly nervous in the past few months since the authorities launched another investigation into financial irregularities at Dubai Islamic Bank and Deyaar, its real estate unit.
In the person of Mr Shirawi, the dragnet has brought in the most senior official to date and a fraud investigation has mutated into an audit of government-wide graft. The indications are that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s ruler, plans to leave no stone unturned and to give investigators considerable freedom to to build cases against suspects.
Some observers warn, however, that a backroom deal is being hatched. In Dubai many cases of embezzlement and corruption have not got to trial. Businessmen accused of fraud are detained by the state security service, but more often than not a deal is reached.
The last major graft case was that of Obaid Busit, Dubai’s customs chief, who was tried and sentenced in 2001. Government supporters refer to the case as an indication of the ruler’s intolerance of official corruption, but Mr Busit served only a fraction of his sentence.
Labels: Dubai Inc.