Witness tampering claimed in Dubai fraud case

Parliamentary privilege has been used to accuse developer Sunland of tampering with a witness in a Dubai criminal case that resulted in Australian executive Matthew Joyce receiving a 10-year jail term.

Parliamentary privilege has been used to accuse developer Sunland of tampering with a witness in a Dubai criminal case that resulted in Australian executive Matthew Joyce receiving a 10-year jail term.

With the consent of both sides of politics, Victorian shadow treasurer Tim Pallas tabled in the Victorian Parliament a document detailing a secret deal Sunland struck with lawyer Anthony Brearley, under which he agreed to give evidence for use in both the Dubai proceeding and a related Australian lawsuit.

The Dubai Ruler's Court convicted Joyce on property fraud charges earlier this month, fining him $25 million in addition to ordering him jailed.

Joyce is on bail and is appealing the verdict, which he says is based on the evidence of Sunland executive David Brown.

An Australian court found Mr Brown gave misleading evidence about the land deal at the heart of the case. Mr Brown is a signatory to the document tabled by Mr Pallas, a deed in which Sunland promised not to sue Mr Brearley over the Dubai deal if he swore an affidavit containing evidence along agreed lines.

The deed of release, signed on January 27, 2010, states Mr Brearley "specifically must not disclose this deed or the fact of this deed to any Dubai authorities".

Sunland also agreed not to enforce any finding against Mr Brearley by the Dubai court.

Legal action taken by Sunland prevented Fairfax Media reporting the contents of the document until it was tabled on Thursday morning.

"I regret to inform the house that shocking new evidence has arisen of witness tampering that seems to have been specifically designed to damage the interests of Mr Joyce," Mr Pallas, the Labor member for Tarneit, said in Parliament.

"I believe the information provided to this place is critical to ensuring that justice prevails and that Mr Joyce comes home.

"I have here a deed that unequivocally demonstrates the lengths to which Mr Joyce's accusers have gone to falsify the evidence against him, both in Dubai and in Australia."

Mr Pallas said Mr Joyce had been "falsely accused of criminal behaviour, extraordinarily by another Australian company, which was under investigation for bribery."

On Tuesday, Liberal member for Prahran Clem Newton-Brown also spoke in support of Mr Joyce.

Sunland spokeswoman Simone Holzapfel said: "The allegation that Sunland tampered with a witness is fanciful."

Mr Joyce and Mr Brearley both worked for Dubai Waterfront, a subsidiary of state-owned developer Nakheel, at the time of the property deal in 2007.

Mr Brearley, who lives in Australia, was initially among defendants to the Dubai case but was not named when verdicts were handed down on May 21. The Ruler's Court rejected Mr Joyce's defence against claims that he received $6 million for his share in a plot to swindle Sunland out of more than $12 million in a Dubai land sale.

Marcus Lee, another Australian who worked on the Dubai Waterfront development, was acquitted.

Mr Pallas tried to table the deed of release after speaking on Wednesday, but procedural difficulties meant it could not be incorporated into Hansard until Thursday morning - opening the way for Fairfax Media to report its contents.

At an out-of-hours Victorian Supreme Court hearing on April 15, at which Fairfax Media was not present, Sunland obtained an injunction preventing Fairfax reporting the contents of the deed.

The following day the court ruled against Sunland, but the company immediately appealed to the Court of Appeal and obtained fresh orders preventing publication.

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