Freed British developer released after two-and-a-half years in Dubai rearrested

 Safi Qurashi and daughter Sara

British property developer Safi Qurashi, this week freed by a Dubai court after two-and-a-half years in jail, was rearrested on Tuesday over criminal charges brought against him by debt-ridden developer Nakheel.

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A hearing by Dubai’s Cassation Court on Monday cleared Qurashi of two counts of cheque fraud and he was released on bail from Dubai Central Jail at around 5:30pm UAE time Tuesday, with a third and final hearing set for next week.

Qurashi, who had served two-and-a-half years of a seven-year sentence, was immediately rearrested and driven to Jebel Ali Police Station at around 8pm to face charges filed by government-owned Nakheel.

“We were expecting him to come home as his children had prepared an Iftar for him and to our shock and horror at eight in the evening he was brought to Jebel Ali Police Station,” Hina Chaudhry, a spokesperson for the Qurashi family, told Arabian Business.

The criminal charges filed by Nakheel refer to a plot of land Qurashi bought on the Dubai Waterfront development, a 1.4bn sqft project twice the size of Hong Kong, launched at the height of the Dubai property boom.

“[Qurashi] purchased a plot of land on the Dubai Waterfront: plot No. C08AV, which he purchased for $44m,” Chaudhry confirmed.

The criminal case was lodged when Nakheel officials presented the security cheques, which Qurashi had submitted as part of the purchase agreement, to cover the remaining payments on the Waterfront plot.

However, Chaudhry claims these payments were not due under the terms of the contract signed between Qurashi and the developer, and should never have been presented for payment.

“Contractually, Nakheel are only entitled to 20 percent prior to handover… [Qurashi] paid 50 percent to Nakheel and there has never been a handover from Nakheel on this project… They were holding post-dated cheques for future payment, which they are not entitled to but they have cashed and filed a criminal case,” Chaudhry said.

Chaudhry said she has been in contact with Nakheel over the two-and-a-half years while Qurashi was in jail, and claimed this new criminal charge had never been brought to her attention.

“Nakheel have confirmed this is not an error… [and] I have asked to have these cheques returned to us immediately,” she said.

Despite this new development, Qurashi was released on bail on Wednesday evening after four passports were handed into police officials.

He is due to appear in court next week for a hearing related to a third case as part of his original seven-year sentence, but will also now have to launch a defence against this latest criminal charge brought by the master developer.

A Nakheel spokesperson told Arabian Business the developer would not comment on the case while legal proceedings were ongoing.

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