Jonathan Nash, is CEO of Top House in Qatar, he has 27 years of experience in the electronic security systems industry. Top House offers technical, commercial and management services to the local construction industry. As CEO of a company, it is normal practice to write cheques in advance, as assurance of payment in the future. The cheques signed by Jonathan assured millions of Qatari riyals to clients and suppliers. When the company blocked payment, Jonathan found himself personally liable and facing the rest of his life in prison.
"Because of local practice in the Qatar, a defendant in cases like this is only ever asked three standard questions at the court hearings, to which they may only answer yes or no."
Radha Stirling, CEO and founder of Detained in Dubai who are providing legal support to Jonathan and his family said in a statement, "The shock felt by Jonathan and his family at the prospect of him spending 37 years in Qatar prison is immense.
“The practice of using blank cheques as assurance for millions of pounds of business debt immediately puts business people in jeopardy. Holding an individual personally responsible for such large amounts of corporate debt is not a standard the international business community follows, and certainly a 37 year prison sentence in such a case is beyond all norms.
“Business practice in the Qatar must be reformed to bring it in line with international standards. The cheque system used in the Qatar is antiquated and as many find to their cost, open to fraud even by those with good business reputations.
“In most countries, if someone is innocent they’d have a chance to prove it in court. But because this is Qatar, Jonathan has not been allowed to defend himself or present evidence in his own favour, as he would have been if he had been at home in the UK.”