British businessman faces 37 years in jail in Qatar

A senior British businessman is reported to have been sentenced to 37 years in jail in Qatar for issuing cheques that bounced on behalf of the construction company he worked for.

Jonathan Nash, former CEO of Top House in Qatar, says that he is the victim of an internal power struggle at the company and that he has been used as a ‘fall-guy’ for what he describes as the covert liquidation of its assets.

His supporters say that while he languishes in jail, his former business partner David Bolger and the Qatar emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani between them ‘divied up’ his stake in the business.

Neither Mr Bolger nor the emir have responded to the allegations. Neither was anyone from Top House available to comment.

Mr Nash’s supporters say that the emir is the sponsor of Top House in Qatar and the company required his backing to operate in the country.

Mr Nash is reported to have told supporters that the assets of Top House, including cars and office furniture, are being sold off and that much of the company’s funds have disappeared.

Mr Nash’s desperate family are now publicising his plight in the hope that ‘compassion and sensibility’ will overturn his ‘cruel and unusual sentence’.

His distraught mother, Jennie Nash, says that she is beside herself with worry for her son who is being held in one of the harshest prisons in the world.

But she says that guards at the prison restrict calls and often do not answer the telephone, so she can go weeks without word from her son.

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‘This is every mother’s worst nightmare, we all think it will never happen to us… when it does it is a real shock. Jonathan’s detention and heavy prison sentence have left us all reeling, we feel so helpless and we are really concerned for his well-being and safety.’

The businessman’s ex-wife, Bev said life has been very hard for her and their two children.

‘It has affected my health with stress and anxiety,’ she said. ‘Our children have been very brave during this period, especially our daughter. Sadly for both children they have lived several of their young years without the love and support of a father.’

The couple’s daughter Katie, 17, said that it was tragic he had missed some of the most important times in her life.

‘I haven’t hugged my Dad in over three years,’ she said, ‘I miss him so much.

‘My Dad and I were so close, last time I saw him I was 13 years old, I’m now 17 years old. I just want him home as soon as possible.’

As CEO of Top House, Mr Nash said it was normal practice to write cheques in advance as assurance of payment to scores of clients and suppliers.

But when the company he worked for blocked payment because of its internal disagreements.

Mr Nash’s supporters say he was left personally liable for the payments after 27 years of experience in the electronic security systems industry.

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The businessman has argued that the funds were not available because of internal wrangling at Top House and that he is being held personally responsible for corporate shortcomings.

He said that police have refused to listen to his arguments even though he had successfully completed negotiations with Mashreq bank for five million Qatari riyals to be made available to cover any debts after he was initially thrown into jail in March 2015.

He says that the Qatari court system makes it almost impossible for him to get out of  one of the harshest prison regimes in the world.

The pressure group Detained in Dubai – which is s providing legal support to Mr Nash and his family – said in a statement that ‘;the shock felt by Jonathan and his family at the prospect of him spending 37 years in prison is immense’.

‘The practice of using blank cheques as assurance for millions of pounds of business debt immediately puts business people in jeopardy. Holding an individual personally responsible for such large amounts of corporate debt is not a standard the international business community follows, and certainly a 37 year prison sentence in such a case is beyond all norms,’ the statement said.

Critics say the cheque system used in the Qatar is antiquated and open to fraud even by those with good business reputations.

Source Credit: Daily Mail

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