A former senior executive of the Hastie Group has fled the United Arab Emirates, following fears he would be arrested over bounced cheques.
According to the Australian, in his first public statement, Gavin Appleby, the former regional chief executive for Hastie in the Middle East, said that he had to flee the UAE in a panic after cheques earmarked to pay rent and labour costs bounced — a criminal offence there — turning him and the former human resources manager, Gary Allen, into wanted men.
A number of post-dated cheques were issued by Hastie in the months and weeks before the company collapsed in May.
It has been confirmed that one cheque has been dishonoured, opening the likelihood of serious prison time for Hastie’s former regional chief executive Gavin Appleby.
Mr Appleby, whose signatures appear on the cheques, has fled the United Arab Emirates with his wife and family to the safety of Norway, fearing a maximum of three years’ prison for each bad cheque.
The cheques - written before Mr Appleby resigned from Hastie in January - were to cover salaries, food and accommodation for around 1,000 foreign labourers employer by Hastie in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Four remaining Hastie managers have used their own funds to cover the labourers’ costs as they negotiate new work and full termination entitlements as required under UAE law.
However, administrators say it is not possible to help UAE staff who are not covered for entitlements.
Hastie’s UAE bank accounts are empty and unable to cover cheques after $3 million was transferred from Dubai to Sydney just days before the company was placed in administration.