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Gulfar Muhammed Ali jailed for three year, fined for graft in Oman

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Gulfar Muhammed Ali jailed for three year, fined for graft in Oman
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Muscat: The Court of First Instance in Muscat on Sunday sentenced Mohammed Ali, managing director of Galfar Engineering, to three years in jail and Galfar official Abdullmajeed Naushad to two years in jail after conviction on corruption charges, the first ruling in a case that is shaking up the country's business environment.

Ali, who had maintained his innocence throughout the trial that began in November, was also ordered to pay 600,000 rials in fines.

Naushad, who had initially denied the charges but changed his plea during the hearings, was ordered to pay 200,000 rials, the judge said. Ali and Naushad, who hold Indian citizenship, are to be deported after they serve their sentences.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Ali has filed an appeal in the court.

An Omani government official was also sentenced in the case. The judge sentenced Juma Al Hinai, an official in the Finance Ministry who also serves as head of the tenders committee at state-owned Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), to three years in jail and ordered him to pay a fine of 600,000 rials (946.31 thousand pounds). He was banned from holding public office for 20 years.

More than 20 government officials and private executives from Oman's oil industry and related sectors are on trial on charges of offering or accepting bribes in exchange for contracts, mostly in infrastructure projects.

A PDO official said: "We have no comment at this point. It is too soon." He suggested that the defendants would appeal the verdict.

Authorities in the Gulf Arab sultanate had confiscated 873,000 rials found in Hinai's home.

The case took shape in November when prosecutors charged Hinai with accepting 200,000 rials from Ali to facilitate Galfar operations and extending one of the contracts awarded by PDO. Naushad was charged with complicity in providing the bribes.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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