Two Australian businessmen under house arrest due back from Dubai for Christmas

SAMANTHA MAIDEN
The Sunday Telegraph
December 14, 2013 10:00PM

Four-year nightmare over

Four-year nightmare over

Matthew Joyce with wife Angela and children Jack, William and Clancy in Dubai. Source: The Sunday Telegraph

TWO Australian businessmen who endured a legal nightmare in Dubai could be home for Christmas after authorities ­lifted a four-year ban on handing back their passports.

Senior government sources have confirmed that Matthew Joyce and Marcus Lee are ­likely to be given their passports  within  the next 48 hours after they were seized by Dubai authorities.

The breakthrough will allow the pair and their families to return home to Australia after years of uncertainty and the threat of long jail sentences. There are hopes they could be on a plane before Christmas.

The pair have been held under effective house arrest for years after Gold Coast ­development company Sunland accused them of trying to rip off the company over a property deal. The pair faced long jail sentences.

Marcus and Julie Lee.

Marcus and Julie Lee. Source: The Sunday Telegraph

But the Dubai Court of ­Appeal has now ruled that both men did nothing wrong, clearing the pair of bribery and fraud-related charges.

The resolution of the long-running consular case follows the personal intervention of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

In November, it was ­revealed that Mr Abbott personally lobbied the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, at a secret meeting in the Middle East after he visited Australian troops in Afghanistan.

Less than a fortnight after the talks, a Dubai appeals court acquitted Mr Joyce of bribery charges, overturning a ruling that he faced 10 years jail and a $25 million fine.

Melbourne-based property developer Angus Reed, also caught up in the drama, said he was grateful that the nightmare was almost over.

Mr Reed said he intended to make no further comment until Mr Joyce and Mr Lee were safely home on Australian soil. Sunland has also been ordered to pay costs of $6.82 million to Mr Reed and Mr Joyce by the ­Supreme Court of Victoria.

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