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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13246


Mr ROBERT (Fadden) (21:30): I rise tonight to put on the record details that have been left out of recent media reports in relation to the case surrounding two Australians on trial in Dubai and canvassed most recently in the Weekend Australian. As with every story, there are two sides, and I want to ensure that a local Gold Coast business, Sunland, with 30 years of experience as a solid Australian corporate citizen, is not tarnished by a media that has chosen to tell only half the story. In the story written by Cameron Stewart for the Weekend Australian,he states:

The bribery charges for which he—

Joyce—

was arrested in Dubai in 2009 were tested in the Victorian Supreme Court this year and found to be without foundation. … Sunland … was found by the Australian judge to have "commenced and continued the present proceedings in wilful disregard of known facts and law" and with "a willingness to implicate Joyce unjustifiably".

The case to which Cameron Stewart refers is currently being appealed by Sunland on the basis that Justice Croft failed to consider a substantial amount of documentary evidence, including evidence of Joyce and Reed planning to deceive Sunland, evidence of the falsification of documents by Joyce or Reed, and evidence of the distribution of half of the payment made by Sunland to Reed's company, approximately $7 million, from Reed to Joyce, who at the time was a senior public servant in Dubai.

The receipt of that $7 million by Joyce is the basis for the bribery charge Joyce faces in Dubai. However, that bribery charge was not tested in the Victorian Supreme Court. Although the evidence of the bribe, and documents from the Dubai investigation and the Dubai Court file, were put before the Victorian Supreme Court, Justice Croft refused to consider them and said they were irrelevant. In his 300-page judgement, Justice Croft made not one mention of the fact that Reed paid Joyce $7 million and that Joyce has been charged with bribery in Dubai for receiving that $7 million. Further, Cameron Stewart wrote:

Joyce is not alone. His former work colleague Marcus Lee, 43, was also arrested in 2009 on similar charges, despite Sunland having belatedly admitted this year that some of its claims against him, which formed the basis of his prosecution, were wrong.

The facts are that Mr Lee has been charged by the Dubai authorities because of his role in facilitating the transaction. The Dubai authorities assert that Lee deliberately undervalued the land in question in order to deliver a larger premium to Reed and Joyce. Lee's valuation provided a basis for Joyce to reduce the price. Sunland had no knowledge that Reed and Joyce knew one another until after Joyce was arrested. Sunland has made no comment on claims against Lee in Dubai. Sunland did correct minor facts—telephone numbers and dates—relating to Lee's dealings with Sunland, but those facts are not the basis of the Dubai prosecutor's claim against Lee. The most damning evidence is a Dubai audit report of 2009—never tested in Australia—that states:

Lee deliberately presented misleading and inaccurate information and omitted some data and studies which were necessary to determine the sale price …

This is from page 5 of a 2009 government of Dubai Financial Audit Department report.

According to the Weekend Australian:

Dubai authorities alleged that the $14 million payment by Sunland to a company called Prudentia, which was controlled by Joyce's colleague and fellow Geelong Grammar graduate Angus Reed, was an illegal commission. Sunland claimed it should not bear the blame for the payment because it was Joyce and Reed who helped facilitate it.

The facts are that the Dubai authorities never alleged that Sunland's payment to Prudentia was an illegal commission. Nor did the Dubai authorities seek to 'blame' Sunland for having made a payment to Reed. That was an assertion made by Joyce's and Reed's lawyers in the Victorian Supreme Court as part of a conspiracy theory put forward to damage Sunland, but it was contrary to the evidence in both the Victorian court and the Dubai court. The evidence of the bribe was uncovered by searches carried out of Joyce's home and office and of Joyce's Dubai lawyers' office and by other extensive investigations in Dubai.

It did not rely on any evidence from Sunland but rather the Dubai Financial Audit Department's report of April 2009 stated in relation to Joyce:

Joyce Has informed and directed Sunland that there are rights on plot no D17 in favour of some Australian individuals through a company called Prudential Investment, contrary to the true state of affairs.

He—

Joyce—

approved the business case determining the square foot sale price for 120 dirhams per square foot—

which is widely acknowledged to be 30 per cent lower than market value. It went on:

It is proved that the accused has received a commission of 6 million Australian dollars—

based on exchange rates at the time—

through his account with Standard Bank Jersey from the commission paid to the so-called Angus Reed amounting to about 12 million Australian dollars.

Again, this is from page 5 of the Financial Audit Department report.

The Weekend Australian article further states:

Even though Lee was not involved in negotiations over D17 he was caught up in the charges because he prepared a report in relation to the sale of the land at the request of his superiors. Two other Australian colleagues of Joyce who were not in Dubai at that time, Anthony Brearley and Reed, were also charged in relation to the D17 negotiations.

The facts are that Mr Lee prepared the business case on behalf of a company called Dubai Waterfront, including a valuation. Lee's superior who requested him to prepare the report was Joyce. Anthony Brearley was an in-house lawyer at Dubai Waterfront. I have more. I seek leave to table a document in relation to the issue.

Ms King: I am a little reluctant to grant leave, as it appears to be a legal matter that I do not have any information about.

Leave not granted.