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Middle East

Oman court jails businessman to 15 years over bribes

Demonstrators carry banners during a march against the unrest which took place in neighboring city Sohar and expressing support for ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said, in Muscat in this March 1, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Sultan Al Hasani/Files

MUSCAT: A court in Oman on Sunday sentenced a former executive of an engineering firm to a total of 15 years in jail for five counts of bribery in exchange for contracts from a state-owned oil company.

The trial, part of a crackdown by the government on corruption in the Western-allied country, was the second against former managing director of Galfar Engineering and Contracting, Mohammed Ali, who was sentenced to three years in jail in January over bribes made to Petroleum Development Oman (PDO).

Ali and two other men convicted earlier this year on bribery charges -- a former executive of Galfar and a Finance Ministry official who had served as head of the tenders committee at PDO -- have appealed against the January sentence.

In the latest case, the prosecutor accused Ali of giving bribes to PDO employees to facilitate the awarding of contracts to his firm.

The judge sentenced Ali to three years in jail for each of the five counts of bribery and ordered the sentences to run consecutively, for a total of 15 years.

The court also ordered Ali to pay 1.774 million rials ($4.61 million) in fines for the convictions.

Ali was not in court for the ruling, but his spokesperson said he planned to appeal against the verdict.

The businessman, an Indian national, resigned his post of managing director of Galfar Engineering and Contracting after his January conviction and sentence. He was one of six people jailed and fined for bribery-related offences.

Oman's Sultan Qaboos has waged an anti-graft campaign to defuse mass protests in several Omani cities in 2011 that were mostly directed against corruption but also held to demand jobs, issues that fuelled uprisings around the Arab world that year.

Last month, the Court of First Instance in Muscat sentenced the CEO of state-owned Oman Oil Company to 23 years in jail for accepting bribes, abuse of office and money laundering, the most severe punishment meted out in a series of corruption trials that began last year. ($1 = 0.3850 Omani rials)

 

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