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Economy

Dubai Bank boss accused of getting Kenyan citizenship through fraud

Dubai Bank chairman Hassan Zubeidi in the witness stand when he appeared in a Nairobi court for the hearing of a case in which the bank’s former managing director, Nereah Said, has sued him for unlawful arrest. Photo/PAUL WAWERU
Dubai Bank chairman Hassan Zubeidi in the witness stand when he appeared in a Nairobi court for the hearing of a case in which the bank’s former managing director, Nereah Said, has sued him for unlawful arrest. Photo/PAUL WAWERU 

Dubai Bank chairman Hassan Zubeidi’s Kenyan citizenship and his academic qualifications Thursday came under scrutiny during cross-examination in a case in which the bank’s former CEO has sued for wrongful arrest.

Mr Zubeidi told High Court judge Isaac Lenaola that he could neither recall the date and month of his birth in Lamu nor when he was issued with a Kenyan identification card.

The Dubai Bank chairman was also unable to recite Kenya’s national anthem or the national pledge, prompting lawyer Ochieng Oduol for the plaintiff to conclude that Mr Zubeidi is not a Kenyan citizen.

Mr Oduol, who is representing the bank’s former chief executive Nereah Said, accused Mr Zubeidi of acquiring Kenya’s citizenship by false representation.

“I am putting it to you that you are a Yemeni citizen and not a Kenyan citizen, and that you acquired Kenyan documents by false representation,” Mr Oduol told Mr Zubeidi who described the statement as “a big lie”.

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Mr Zubeidi was testifying in case in which Ms Said has sued Dubai Bank for wrongful investigation and dismissal after she was accused of defrauding Mr Zubeidi of 100,000 Euros by pretending that she was in a position to acquire three shops for the bank’s branches in Diani.

She is challenging the investigations and criminal charges that have since been preferred against her. Ms Said, who joined the bank in July 2012, left four months later in an acrimonious fallout that has since lifted the veil on a series of irregular dealings at the bank.

Mr Zubeidi told the court that he was born in Lamu in 1961, but could not recall the date and month. He then left for Dubai, where he testified that he attended Dubai Primary School for five years. He testified that he had no documents to prove he attended the school.

The Dubai Bank boss said he later left for Yemen where he attended Seyun Secondary School, but again testified that he had no supporting documents and could not recall the year he was in school.

“I came back to Kenya in the 80s, but cannot remember the year,” said Mr Zubeidi, adding that he then attended Universal College where he attained a diploma. He once again told the court that he did not have any documents to back his testimony.

Mr Zubeidi said he obtained a Kenyan identification card in the 1980s in Mombasa, but could not remember the year or tell the court his ID number, which he said he had left with the court security at the gate.  

Mr Oduol asked Mr Zubeidi if he had worked for the Yemeni Embassy as a driver upon coming back to the country and the Dubai bank boss said he had not. He also denied ever travelling on a Yemeni passport.

It further emerged that Mr Zubeidi’s date and month of birth was missing from his Kenyan birth certificate that he got in 1990. But Mr Zubeidi denied allegations that he acquired the documents by false representation, maintaining that all his identification documents are valid.

Mr Zubeidi told the court that his parents had died but promised to produce their death certificates as demanded by Ms Said’s lawyer. He also undertook to look for the academic documents to prove his attendance of schools in the Middle East and Kenya.

The Dubai Bank chairman also had difficulties recalling the date Ms Said was hired and sacked from the bank, giving a different date from what he provided in a sworn affidavit.

Mr Zubeidi said he was a non-executive chairman of the bank and thus was not involved in its daily operations. He also denied allegations that he has an office within the bank’s premises. The cross-examination was Thursday adjourned until August 29, to allow Mr Zubeidi and Ms Said’s lawyers exchange documents.

Ms Said has filed a separate case in the Industrial Court in which she is seeking compensation for wrongful dismissal.

She claims that weak governance systems orchestrated by the bank’s chairman and major shareholder, Mr Zubeidi, have left the institution highly exposed to rampant fraud and theft of funds with the connivance of the industry regulator, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).

She accuses Mr Zubeidi of assuming executive powers that he regularly uses to disburse unsecured loans to his friends, exposing depositors to high levels of risk in the event of defaults.

Ms Said also accuses Mr Zubeidi of fraudulently transferring customer deposits to his private bank account in a Dubai Bank, while falsifying the financial statements submitted to the CBK.

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