Peter Margetts Sentenced to 40 years in Prison over bounced cheques
Peter Margetts has been sentenced to over 40 years imprisonment when his investors presented cheques written in advance. Peter claims that he was defrauded by his business partner related to property developments. Peter told us he remained in Dubai to sort out matters with his investors and was at the time in a position to pay them a substantial portion of what they were owed, with the remaining to follow within 12 months.
He wanted to resolve matters amicably with them. Allegedly, they didn’t believe that he had been defrauded and felt he was withholding their funds deliberately. They would not negotiate with him and presented security cheques to the banks, resulting in Peter being detained, so far for almost 2 years. He has been dragged back and forth through the Court system for this whole time, suffocating in transit.
Peter’s family, including a toddler returned to Europe and he is allowed only limited visitations on weekends from friends. Peter has been hoping to have his cases consolidated so that his sentence can be reduced from 40 years (composing of 3 year sentences per cheque).
Peter says he should have left and negotiated from abroad but he wanted “to do the right thing” and resolve matters with investors, hoping he would be able to stay in Dubai and turn business around.
Unfortunately, Peter is now with countless others in a Dubai jail where he faces effectively a life of imprisonment. At over 40 years old, this sentence equates to the rest of his life behind bars over a business arrangement, leaving his wife and children alone.
Who would ever have thought that doing business in Dubai could have the result of ending one’s life?
Peter mentioned on the telephone that he occasionally sees Safi Quarashi, the British businessman who is imprisoned at the same location for bounced cheques. Safi has been sentenced to 7 years as it stands today but is hoping for some further progress to be made during the appeal next week.
These cases amoung others bring a few issues, particularly the question of fair punishment. In a business arrangement, it is foreseeable that if 1 cheque bounces, a sequence of cheques could bounce. Is it right that an individual can then be sentenced to 3 years for each cheque, effectively resulting in lifetime? Should cases be consolidated? Should bounced cheques be decriminalised?
We would like to make the following suggestions, based on these two cases:
Bounced Cheques become civil matters
Multiple bounced cheques be consolidated so the sentence can not exceed 3 years
Prosecutors should encourage Alternative Dispute Resolution / Mediation and prosecution should be a last resort
The circumstances surrounding bounced cheques should be reviewed by Judges and taken into account before sentencing
Multiple complaints through different police stations should be considered unacceptable