DUBAI, June 28 A Bahraini court has sentenced
the former chief executive of Bank Al Khair in absentia to four
years in jail for embezzlement and squandering the bank's funds,
the Islamic lender said.
It said the Criminal Court of Bahrain also convicted Majid
Al-Refai at a hearing on Tuesday of destroying bank documents as
well as preventing shareholders and authorised entities from
accessing bank records.
Rifai said in an emailed statement to Reuters on Thursday
that he was aware of the verdict and denied all charges.
"Mr Al Refai was unable to travel to Bahrain to defend
himself due to the existence of a travel ban and was tried in
absentia. He vehemently denies all the malicious charges against
him and will continue to fight to clear his name," it said.
Bahrain imposed a travel ban on Refai but he was already out
of the country at the time. Refai, a Kuwaiti citizen, was
believed to be in Kuwait this week.
The ruling was the third and most significant against the
former chief executive since inquiries into alleged wrongdoing
started in mid-2010. Refai left the bank that year over what
banking sources said were strategy disputes with the board.
The bank said last year an investigation by consultancy
Deloitte concluded that Refai committed 58 criminal offences,
including misappropriating bank funds.
Refai denied the allegations of financial crimes made by the
lender, saying that Deloitte had not disclosed its "personal
interest" in the investigation.
The court also sentenced Al-Refai's associate, Falah
Al-falah, to a year in prison for involvement in
misappropriation and dissipation of bank funds, Bank Al Khair
The sharia-compliant lender, formerly Unicorn Investment
Bank, operates in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Pakistan and
(Reporting By Mirna Sleiman; Editing by Mark Heinrich)