Abu Dhabi jails six, slaps fines of Dhs160m on money laundering charges
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Abu Dhabi jails six, slaps fines of Dhs160m on money laundering charges

Abu Dhabi jails six, slaps fines of Dhs160m on money laundering charges

The accused, also involved in drug trafficking, were found guilty of using exchange houses to transfer illegal funds to Pakistan


Six expats have been imprisoned in Abu Dhabi and slapped with hefty fines on charges of money laundering.

The accused, all Pakistani nationals, were charged with “committing money laundering by conducting suspicious banking transactions in an attempt to conceal the origin of funds obtained from drug trafficking”, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department said in a statement.

The Abu Dhabi Criminal Court sentenced each of the accused with 10 years imprisonment and a fine of Dhs10m each, followed by deportation from the country after serving their sentences.

The court also imposed fines of Dhs50m each on two companies – specialised in advertising and e-commerce – owned by one of the accused.

Case details

According to the investigation, four of the accused, who were convicted of drug trafficking, were working as a gang with people inside and outside the country.

The members of the gang located abroad used to make the drug buyer deposit funds into one of the bank accounts of the accused residing inside the UAE or into the account of one of the two companies.

The amounts were transferred later on via foreign exchange offices to people in Pakistan.

The investigation found that all of the bank accounts associated with the case recorded a “significant turnover” which was not commensurate with the financial activities of the accused.

The first accused had different accounts in six banks in the UAE and the second accused had accounts in three banks.

The number of deposit operations on a single account of the first accused reached 50 operations in a single day with values between Dhs500- Dhs1,000. The investigation revealed that eight of the depositors had a history of drug addiction.

The investigation also showed that the bank accounts of the two companies owned by the accused saw about Dhs8m turnover in six months, in a manner “incompatible with the activities of the two companies”, with suspicious deposit operations that were not supported by any document confirming the legality of their source.

“This confirms that the two companies were used as a cover for laundering money from the crime of drug trafficking, with the aim of concealing the source of the proceeds,” the statement added.

Nearly Dhs2m were also found in the place of residence of the accused.

The investigation also showed that the “method used to receive and withdraw the funds was similar to that used in drug trafficking and that all the money deposited in these accounts was withdrawn by the persons involved in several installments and transferred to other persons in Pakistan through various exchange offices in the UAE”.

Strict laws

The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) stressed that the UAE has a specialised judicial structure to combat financial crimes which has contributed to reduce money laundering operations and helped to arrest those involved in such activities.

The recent amendment of the federal law on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism has also helped to strengthen the capacity of relevant bodies to combat these crimes more effectively.

The penalties for those found guilty of any of these crimes has been increased while the law has also broadened the scope of criminalisation to include anyone who proves to be aware of the criminal or illegal origin of the funds.

The amended law considers the crime of money laundering as an independent one and provides that “proving the illicit source of the proceeds should not constitute a prerequisite to sentencing the perpetrator of the predicate offence”.

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