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Two Indian executives were handed jail terms of three and two years by an Omani court

Ali-receives-Special-Award-in-2013-for-Leadership-People-Development-MuscatTwo Indian executives were handed jail terms of three and two years by an Omani court
MUSCAT: January 13, 2014

The Primary Court Muscat yesterday sentenced a government official and two private sector executives, including a noted Indian businessman P. Mohammed Ali, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of Galfar Group, to jail for three years after conviction on corruption charges.

The judge at the Court of First Instance in Muscat sentenced Juma Al Hinai to three years in jail and ordered him to pay a fine of 600,000 rials (about $1.5 million USD). Hinai, who also serves as head of the tenders committee at the state-owned Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), was banned from holding public office for 20 years and confiscation of assets.

Dr Mohammed Ali, managing director of Galfar Group, was sentenced to three years in jail and ordered him to pay a fine of 600,000 rials. Mohamed Ali, who had maintained his innocence throughout the trial that began in November, last year. His former business development manager, Abdullmajeed Nushad, who had initially denied the charges but changed his plea during the hearings, was ordered two years in jail and to pay 200,000 Rials ($519,400.00 USD). Ali and Nushad, who belongs to India, are to be deported after they serve their sentences.

The case came up after prosecutors charged Hinai with accepting 200,000 Rials from Ali to facilitate Galfar operations. The Public Prosecution convicted the defendants and asked the court not to show mercy on them because they took the advantage of their positions and used the public funds for their personal use. In a statement, Galfar Engineering & Contracting said that Ali’s bail has been set at $750,000 and that defence lawyers for the two executives have said they will appeal the verdict.

More than 20 government officials and private executives from Oman’s oil industry and related sectors are on trial on charges of offering or accepting bribes in exchange for contracts, mostly in infrastructure projects.

Oman, situated on the narrow strait through which flows 40 percent of the world’s seaborne oil, is a significant producer itself, pumping around 950,000 barrels per day of crude. Oil and gas sector revenues provide most government revenues.

The country is spending heavily to develop its energy and industrial infrastructure in an effort to create jobs for its citizens. Last month, international oil giant BP signed 30-year deals to develop an Omani gas project with an estimated investment of $16bn. The Oman-based NRI entrepreneur and philanthropist Dr P Mohammed Ali was honoured last year by the Indian President Pranab Mukherjee in Kochi, the coveted Outstanding Non-Resident Indian award, on the Pravasi Bharat Divas (PBD-INDIA – 2013 ). He was the first in the Indian diaspora to receive Pravasi Bharatiya Samman in 2004. Dr Ali has also been awarded the Oman Civil Order for his services to the Sultanate in 2004.

Mfar Hotels and Mfar Holdings are sister concerns of Galfar group. Presently, Mfar Hotels & Resorts has around 700 rooms altogether in India and Oman. Mfar Hotels & Resorts owns Le Meridien (Kochi), the West in Chennai and another yet to be opened five-star hotel at the Airport Heights in Muscat. The 240-room Muscat hotel, called the Azaiba Hotel, is being jointly promoted by Mfar along with a local partner and will open to guests in January next year. Mr Ali has also acquired an island in Maldives on a 15-year lease, on which to carry out the construction of a resort worth $150 million.

Mfar Holdings today has grown to cover the segments of Luxury Residential, Class A office buildings and retail infrastructure, with projects in the cities of Bangalore, Mangalore, Kochi and Thrissur in South India.

As the founder of Galfar Engineering and Contracting Co, Dr Ali has earned his stripes as one of the Gulf’s leading entrepreneurs. From its start in 1972, the firm has grown into the single largest private sector employer in Oman with an annual turnover of more than $1bn and more than 27,000 staff. Outside of his business interests, Dr Ali is the founder of the Oman Petroleum Alliance and the former vice chairman of the state-backed Omanisation Joint Committee. His charitable works include founding the PM Foundation, which promotes education in rural Indian communities.
Last updated: January 13, 2014

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