UAE steps up prosecutions for money laundering and terrorist financing

Officials highlight several recent cases that led to jail sentences and financial seizures

FX0Y3D Close up different Dirhams currency note and coins, United Arab Emirates
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The UAE has intensified its efforts to bring people who launder money and finance terrorism to justice, prosecutors have said.

Ismail Madani, senior advocate general and head of Public Funds Prosecution, said the Public Prosecution authority is pursuing suspected offenders under a national strategy to put in place a “strong financial crime control system” in the UAE.

Prosecutors are working with courts, police, the Central Bank, Customs, the Financial Information Unit and the Executive Office and given explicit authority to combat crimes of money laundering and terrorist financing.

Other law enforcement agencies have also been authorised to receive reports about suspicious financial practices, issue decisions, track and seize funds and monitor bank accounts.

Criminal courts have been authorised to impose penalties, confiscations and fines related to funds obtained from these crimes.

The legal authority and powers given to these organisations are part of supportive measures aimed at helping them detect crimes and its perpetrators without prejudice to the legislation in force.

Faisal bin Sulaitin, executive director of Dubai Economic Security Centre, highlighted the support of the UAE for global efforts to combat money laundering and terrorism financing crimes, in compliance with the standards of the International Financial Action Task Force.

The state has taken important steps in recent years to develop a legal framework for achieving this.

He said the establishment of Dubai Economic Security Centre represents Dubai’s “first line of defence” to protect itself from economic crimes.

This will help raise the confidence of global investors in Dubai's secure environment and encourage international financial institutions to make Dubai the centre of their business operations, he added.

Earlier this month, a senior UAE official said a new law to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing is being developed. The legislation will govern how charitable donations are made and the way non-profit organisations operate.

Heavy sentences for offenders

Officials highlighted the prosecution of several cases recently.

A former employee of a Dubai bank was convicted of embezzling more than Dh5.23 million ($1,423,000) belonging to real estate development companies that were deposited with the bank, with the assistance of his wife, the second accused.

Essam Eisa Al Humaidan, Attorney General of Dubai, ordered a criminal case to be filed against them following the completion of investigations, and referred them to the Criminal Court.

It passed guilty verdicts, with sentences of five years in prison in absentia and the return of the embezzled money.

In another ruling on a case, Dubai Criminal Court convicted an accused, who entered the country through Dubai International Airport, on the charge of concealing funds in his possession.

The court issued a judgment imposing a fine of Dh100,000 and confiscating the amount seized in different currencies – equivalent to more than Dh1.1m.

This was in accordance with Federal Law No. (20) of 2018 issued by the UAE Central Bank, which specifies the upper limit for funds that can be carried by those coming to the country or leaving its territories without disclosure, said officials.

In another case, the court convicted nine defendants on the charge of providing exchange services and transferring money without a licence, in addition to money laundering.

Another case saw the court sentencing the first accused to two years’ imprisonment and the second accused to six months’ imprisonment and a fine of Dh300,000 each along with deportation from the country.

It also convicted the company of the second accused in its capacity as a legal person and imposed a fine of Dh1m and confiscation of the seized funds, amounting to more than Dh8.7m.

Counsellor Ismail Madani stated that the defendants committed the crime of money laundering by transferring the financial proceeds amounting to more than US$3.2m from the company account of the first accused in a bank in the USA to the local bank account of the third accused in the country.

Updated: October 30, 2021, 3:08 PM