Burj Al Arab head chef and butcher 'took bribes'
Dubai hotel kitchen staff accused of taking bribes to buy subpar food
The head chef and the butcher at the Burj Al Arab hotel took kickbacks of nearly AED 900,000 in return for buying poor-quality food at inflated prices from four suppliers, a court heard yesterday, The National reported.
Prosecutors say the chef FR, a 56-year-old Indian, was paid AED 837,246 by the four fruit, vegetable, fish and meat wholesalers between April 2008 and March 2010.
The butcher, AM, a 38-year-old Indian, took AED 40,000 to allow substandard fish to be served in the hotel restaurants, the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance was told.
Prosecutors say that the four companies made monthly payments to FR of between AED 1000 and AED 15,000.
In a confession presented to the court, FR said that shortly after he was promoted to head chef he was approached by two other kitchen staff, a chef from Italy and an Austrian pastry-maker. They told him he should purchase food from only the four suppliers, regardless of the price, for a fee.
The Italian and the Austrian have since been deported.
Prosecutors also told the court that according to the Burj Al Arab's food-quality standards, only fresh or live seafood was to be accepted. AM confessed that after taking payments he accepted seafood that was neither.
In a statement to Hotelier Middle East, a Jumeirah spokesperson said: "The comfort and welfare of our guests is paramount for Jumeirah. We have safety processes and procedures in place to ensure the quality and the freshness of the food served in our hotels and resorts.
"Our colleagues involved at all stages of the food processing, from storage to serving, are suitably qualified to comply with local and international standards and receive regular training on the topic," the statement continued.
"We follow the systematic preventive approach recommended by the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and have internal controls to ensure protocols are being followed. As a result of these measures, Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts repeatedly receive an “A” grade (highest rating) for food safety when tested for Health and Safety by the Dubai Municipality.”
But the Dubai Government's financial audit department realised in 2010 that there were irregularities in transactions at the hotel kitchen, the court was told.
"We called in the head chef and the butcher and got detailed confessions from them on how much was paid by whom, and we took legal action," said the head investigator, Younis Ahmed.
The newspaper report added that because the hotel is owned by the Dubai Government, the two men have been charged as public officials, which means that they face tougher sentences if they are convicted.
The case was adjourned until February 12.