DUBAI'S public prosecutor has indicted several businessmen and former bank executives on charges of bribery and fraud, alleging they defrauded Dubai Islamic Bank of more than 1.84 billion UAE dirhams ($791 million), an official bill of indictment shows.

Amid several government probes in the city-state, a handful of executives at some of Dubai's leading real-estate and financial firms have been detained for questioning.

In the past several years, analysts say, regulation in Dubai has failed to keep up with the pace of growth. In the good times, investors didn't fret much about such shortcomings. Now, as the economy slows, regulators are trying to rein in the offshore boomtown.

The bill of indictment is the latest event in a months-long investigation at DIB. The largest traded Islamic lender in the United Arab Emirates, DIB is a major force in Islamic banking in the Middle East.

The prosecution's bill of indictment - which formally notifies suspects that charges have been brought against them - names seven suspects in the case, two of whom have fled the country, according to the bill of indictment seen by Zawya Dow Jones.

According to the bill of indictment, British businessmen Charles Ridley and Ryan Cornelius, along with Turkish businessman Erin Nil, embezzled $US501 million from DIB through forged invoices and fake deals. The alleged deals were done between 2004 and 2007, according to the bill of indictment.

Former DIB employees Omair Mooraj and Rifat Usmani, both holders of Pakistani passports, are accused of receiving a total of $US1.7 million in alleged bribes to facilitate the financing of the deals, according to the bill of indictment. Zia Usmani, identified as a US businessman, is also accused in the bill of defrauding the bank of $US2 million.

Zia Usmani and Mr Nil have left Dubai, according to the bill of indictment. Zawya Dow Jones was unable to make contact with either man or their representatives. The other men have been detained by Dubai police, according to the bill of indictment.

Dubai police also are holding Arthur Fitzwilliam, the British owner of Dubai-based real-estate developer Plantation Holdings, in connection with the case, according to the bill of indictment.

Habib Al Mulla, a Dubai-based lawyer representing Mr Mooraj, told Zawya Dow Jones on Monday that he will "defend his client in court rigorously by all legal means."

"We believe he has not violated any applicable laws in the country," Mr. Al Mulla said. Mr. Al Mulla confirmed that the case has now been referred to court.

Dubai Public Prosecution officials couldn't be reached for comment. Dubai Islamic Bank officials weren't available for further comment on the case.

DIB shares fell 0.9 per cent on Monday to 2.29 dirhams on the Dubai Financial Market. The stock is down about 75 per cent since the beginning of June.


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