Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Malaysian 'Saudi Prince' embezzled USD7.3 Million
Imposter embezzled US $7.3 million
Fake 'Saudi prince' stands trial in Australia
Malaysian-born Omar Jihad Yusuf, 39, of Melbourne (File)
DUBAI (Kamal Qabisi)
A Malaysian man who pretended to be a Saudi prince was brought before a court in Australia to stand trial for cheating investors out of 8 million Australian dollars (7.3 million U.S. dollars), Australian press reports said.
Omar Jihad Yusuf, a 39-year-old father of four from Melbourne, posted photographs of himself alongside private jets, helicopters and yachts on a website for "Yusuf Holdings", which he claimed had 6,500 employees and international interests in pharmaceuticals, oil, aviation, property, coffee and perfume, The Age newspaper reported.
Yusuf faces 171 fraud charges, mostly for an investment scam in which he convinced 100 Muslim contacts to invest $9.2 million in a trucking company between 2003 and 2005.
According to a prosecution summary tendered to the Melbourne Magistrates Court, Yusuf used most of the money to fund an extravagant lifestyle of first-class air travel and luxury cars, the paper said.
Yusuf, a Malaysian who came to Australia with his parents when he was 5, adopted the title of Prince, saying it was an honorary title from the Saudi Arabian royal family. He signed documents as "Prince Omar Yusuf", and even convinced Australia Post to use the title on a stamp featuring his image. He donated a lot of money to Islamic institutes to impress Australian Muslims.
Yusuf liked to give the impression that he was a modest man, telling the Australian magazine The Edge in November 2004 that it was "not necessary" to address him as 'Your Highness'.
"The title 'Prince' is enough, he said."
Yusuf was exposed when The Age ran an article questioning his reputation in November 2004, prompting him to flee to Malaysia after selling the 20 or so trucks he had actually purchased, leaving no assets for investors to recover.
The trial, which opened on Thursday, is expected to last for three years and end with a 12- to 15-year jail sentence and a fine of 2 million dollars.
Yusuf is penniless, having squandered the money he embezzled gambling in Europe.