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NRI gets jail in Gulf for graft

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan. 13: A prominent Kerala businessman whose name had been recommended for the Padma Shri award has been sentenced to three years in jail and fined six lakh Omani riyals (around Rs 9.5 crore) by an Oman court in a corruption case.

P. Mohammed Ali, vice-chairperson and managing director of Galfar Engineering and Contracting SAOG, was sentenced yesterday along with another Galfar executive and an Omani government official.

Galfar official Abdullmajeed Nushad, who holds an Indian passport, was sentenced to two years and fined around Rs 3 crore.

Oman finance ministry official Juma Al Hinai will have to serve three years in jail and pay around Rs 9.5 crore. He has also been debarred from holding any public office for 20 years.

The case dates to November 2013 when Hinai, who was head of the tender committee at the state-owned Petroleum Development Oman, took around Rs 3.2 crore from Ali to favour Galfar.

Reached for comments, a Galfar official told The Telegraph from Oman: “We do not have anything to say at the moment. We have already applied for bail and will file an appeal in the higher court.’’

Hailing from Thrissur in Kerala, Ali, also known as Galfar Mohammed Ali, founded the company in 1972. It went on to become one of the largest construction and engineering firms in the Gulf country.

With an estimated worth of $725 million, Ali was adjudged the ninth richest man in the Gulf Cooperation Council in a survey by an Arab business magazine.

An RTI reply last November had revealed that Ali’s name had been recommended for the Padma award. However, it was not considered.