US-Jordanian businessman in jail in Jordan on trumped up charges

Munther Daoud
Munther Daoud
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A well respected American Jordanian businessman is in a Jordanian jail after his former partner convinced a court that a stolen check he has was given without sufficient funds. Jordanian law includes prison for giving a check without sufficient funds. However, in this case the check was never officially presented to the court or stamped by the bank and the check had been reported stolen. The courts ignored these basic facts and insisted on imprisoning the businessman. He was visited by a US consul official at the Rmemim prison.

Court records reviewed by Amman Net show that Adel Said Abu Sabah, the former partner of Munther Daoud and franchise owner of Buffalo Wings and Rings made a claim to Jordanian courts that he has an unpaid check for JD 710,00. He told the court in testimony that he received the check in November 2014. However, the two former partners reached a settlement in January 2015 to break up the partnership and a handsome compensation was given to Adel Abu Asbah. In the settlement Asbah stated that he had no debt to Munther Daoud and that he had no checks from the company. In April 2015 Mr. Daoud realized that some signed checks in his safe went missing. The banks and the police were informed that checks are no longer valid and must be dealt with as stolen. 

Nevertheless, the departing partner Adel Abu Sabah presented a Jordanian court with a check for JD710,000 and said that the signer must be jailed in accordance to Jordanian law for giving a check with insufficient funds. Judge Eman Azzam of West Amman’s Magistrate court, did write to the bank to demand if in fact there was sufficient funds in that particular account. The bank replied, documents show, that there was no money but in fact no check was officially presented and that the bank was already informed that checks from that account are invalid and have been reported as stolen. Yet despite the bank letter judge Eman Azzam ruled against Munther Daoud and ordered on June 19th 2017 him jailed pending appeal. Attempts to have the court hear live witnesses were rejected.

In the appeal filed on September 18th 2017, the appeals court ordered that the case be reviewed with live witnesses. Buffalo Wings employees including chief financial officer explained to the court that the checks were stolen and that the company owner Munther Daoud doesn’t write in Arabic and that before the settlement he had signed checks on the express condition that the financial officer fills them out in Arabic on his orders and that this is not what happened. The company official said he didn’t fill out the check and there was no order for payment of such a large sum without any cause. He also said that since the date of that check a settlement took place and the former partner received a very big settlement. But the court didn’t give those testimonies any credence and refused to admit the settlement as evidence which would have exonerated the owner of Buffalo Wings.

Again, the case was appealed. Judges Ibrahim Tarawneh and Sakina Hasamiah refused to accept the justification for the appeal and on November 10th confirmed the judgment against the owner of a franchise that has ten restaurants in Jordan employing 450 workers and paying about one million JD in taxes every year. The court ordered the execution of its decision.

A strange thing happened next. That decision was kept secret until December 2nd when it appeared suddenly on the court computer docket. Munther Daoud’s lawyer Akef Daoud told Amman net that within three hours of the publication of the decision the attorney general Judge Hisham Tarwaneh issued a court conclusion, signed it and ordered the immediate arrest of Munther Daoud who was brought to Zarqa prison from his home. Normally this procedure takes at least one month. Advocate Akef Daoud told Amman Net that in his entire professional career he never saw such a swift enforcement of a decision. “I have worked in the legal field for 25 years years and I have never ever seen such quick enforcement especially when the case is of a person going to jail on charges based on a stolen check that was never stamped by the bank.”

Lawyers for the unjustly imprisoned businessman requested from Justice Minister to allow to appeal the decision in the high court. Minister Bassam Talhoni agreed and the court will listen to the case soon. “What happened to my client hurts the investment environment and will have a bad effect on Jordan’s reputation,” the lawyer told Amman Net.

US consular officials have visited the imprisoned owner of Buffalo Wings and Rings in the Zarqa jail last Wednesday. His family hopes that the court will move in the same speed as they did in enforcing what they consider an unjust decision.

Lorna Daoud, the wife of the imprisoned businessman told Radio Al Balad’s legal aid show Haqi on Thursday that what happened to her husband is totally unjust. “My husband has been in jail for a week on the basis of a stolen check based on the words of the former partner who received and signed a settlement,” she told the radio program that was talking about human rights in Jordan on the occasion of Human Rights Day.

Important dates

Adel Abu Sabha testified that he received the check November 2014

January 2015 a settlement was reached and signed including a hefty compensation and a commitment by Adel that he has no checks or other documents and that Mr. Daoud and the Buffalo Wings franchise owe him anything.

April 2015 Mr. Daoud realizes after checking his safe that some checks are missing. He immediately informs the bank and the police

June 2015 the bank is asked if there is sufficient funds in his account without officially presenting the check. Adel files through his lawyer a suit calling on Mr. Daoud to pay the amount of the check or for the court to order his imprisonment.

December 2nd and after two levels of appeal, courts order detention of Mr. Daoud for one year for presenting a check with insufficient funds

 

Case details and dates follow

Case number 4166/2015

Court decision July 19th 2017

Judge: Eman Azzam

First appeal

Case number 847/2017

Decision of the court on September 18th 2017

Third level of adjudication west Amman court

Case number 6705/2019

Decision of the court June 25th 2019

Judge: Eman Azzam

Decision of the Amman court of the first instance

Case numner 2948/2019

Decision of the court on November 10th 2019

Judges: Ibrahim Tarawneh and Sukina Hasamin

Decision enforced on December 2nd 2019

Request made to the Minister of Justice December 4th 2019

The request for an appeal was approved December 5th

The appeals court registered the request December 10th

The court has rejected releasing Mr. Daoud on appeal and has yet to decide on the case

 

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