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UAE denies judge access to Australian businessmen

FEDERAL Court judge John Logan had his diplomatic passport application in train ahead of travelling to the United Arab Emirates to hear evidence from two Australian businessmen who have been trapped in Dubai for more than 2? years on fraud charges relating to a multibillion-dollar building project.

FEDERAL Court judge John Logan had his diplomatic passport application in train ahead of travelling to the United Arab Emirates to hear evidence from two Australian businessmen who have been trapped in Dubai for more than 2? years on fraud charges relating to a multibillion-dollar building project.

But the passport, the trip and an Australian court hearing scheduled to start yesterday over the same building deal have all come undone.

There has been to-and-fro for nearly a year between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian embassy staff, the Commonwealth Attorney-General's office, the acting attorney-general of Dubai and the head of the Dubai prosecutors office among others.

The request to take evidence in Dubai was first met with a "no", then a "yes", and now again a "no". The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UAE declined the request and wrote: "This response is final." The word final was underlined.

Former Dubai Waterfront executives Matthew Joyce and Marcus Lee spent nine months in jail in Dubai awaiting bail. They have been accused of fraud and profiteering.

It has been alleged they and others who have since left the country cost the ruling family-owned company Nakheel - the parent company of Dubai Waterfront - millions of dollars in a land sale to the Australian developer Sunland Waterfront. Both men have maintained their innocence.

Sunland Waterfront is suing Matthew Joyce, developer Angus John Reed and his company Prudentia Investments, and Hanley Investments for alleged misleading and deceptive conduct over the same land deal. It is not suing Mr Lee.

Justice Logan said as evidence could not be obtained from Mr Joyce and Mr Lee, and others whom Sunland wished to question, either in person or by video link, the correct course for him to take was to adjourn the court case indefinitely.


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