Abu Dhabi investigators foil attempt to steal $173m from UAE bank account

Nearly 40 Asian and European individuals have been arrested in connection with the crime



Abu Dhabi’s Public Funds Prosecution and Criminal Investigation Department have foiled an attempt to steal more than Dhs635m ($172.8m) from the account of a bank operating in the UAE.

The two agencies have been working with the UAE Central Bank over the last 24 hours to recover the funds and have arrested 38 Asian and European individuals, according to state news agency WAM.

They are also working towards arresting six others.

Counsellor Ali Mohammed Al Baloushi, Attorney-General of Abu Dhabi said the group are facing charges under the Federal Penal Code No. 7 for the year 2016, and the Federal Executive Order No. 5 for the year 2012 regarding electronic crimes.

Under the latest amendments to the penal code, the bank’s money is considered public funds once the federal or local government contributes to its capital completely or partially.

The incident occurred after a bank reported an unusual withdrawal from an account at the Central Bank.

The Public Funds Prosecution then ordered the freezing of the money that was withdrawn, with later investigations revealing an employee logged in the bank’s electronic system using the password of another staff member.

The individual then attempted to transfer different amounts of money totalling Dhs635m to the accounts of five companies in five different banks.

The money movements were detected after a warning about a lack of credit in the account.

According to the Public Funds Prosecution, the amounts were transferred to several branch companies of five major companies across the UAE.

The investigation later revealed a gang that had been attempting to connect bank employees with the larger companies and branches in exchange for a percentage of the amount transferred.

“The Public Funds Prosecution issued a directive to seize and freeze the money in the accounts they were transferred into, in addition to issuing an order to seize 6,000 mobile phones whose value reached around AED10 million, purchased with the stolen money,” WAM reported.

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