A WITNESS claims a businessman, on trial for stealing more than BD20 million, actually pocketed closer to BD30m – and also supplied WiFi equipment to protesters who occupied the Pearl Roundabout in 2011.
The 38-year-old defendant, a partner in a telecom company, is charged with fraud, forgery, embezzlement and money laundering in the High Criminal Court.
Another businessman, aged 58, who is not in custody is also standing trial for aiding and abetting the alleged crime.
A former executive director of the company yesterday testified in court that the defendant pocketed BD29m through fraud and embezzlement.
“I was brought to the company in 2016 to help get back the licence, which was revoked by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority,” the 62-year-old Bahraini witness told judges.
“The defendant (aged 38) carried out embezzlement and fraud at the company since 2011.”
He said BD29m simply “disappeared” on the watch of the main defendant, who was responsible for the company.
“He also fraudulently gave his other company, which he owns, contracts without it even having a licence,” added the witness.
“How can BD29m just go missing from the firm and there is no foul play?”
The defendant allegedly stole the money over a four-year period, including more than BD14m that he is accused of embezzling by failing to carry out maintenance work with another company he owned as agreed.
In addition, the witness testified that the firm damaged national security by supplying WiFi to protesters camped at Pearl Roundabout during 2011 unrest.
“The company broke the law and did unlawful things against national security since the unrest in 2011,” he told the court.
“They illegally supplied people at the roundabout with WiFi during the unrest.
“This was against the rules, but I attempted to help investors in the company retrieve the licence.”
The court yesterday adjourned the trial until December 29.
It also agreed to release the 38-year-old defendant on BD10,000 bail while his trial continues, subject to a travel ban.
“My client is Bahraini and did not escape when he was previously temporarily released to go to a funeral of one of his family members,” his lawyer, Abdulrahman Ghunaim, told judges yesterday.
“I request his release even with a travel ban imposed on him.
“His father is elderly and he needs to be with him and his daughter.”
Prosecutors claim the defendant also made BD1m in profits from the telecom firm by forging official company documents.
They argued the defendant committed the crimes between 2011 and 2015.
Both defendants have previously denied the charges.