Activists demand blacklisting of Dubai for failing to crack down on Russian oligarchs
Activists demand blacklisted for failing to crack down on Russian oligarchs.
The 387-foot Yacht Motor anchored in the port of Ras al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, was owned by the Russian oligarch Andrey Melnichenko.
In light of its failures to stem the flow of “dirty money” and enforce sanctions against Russian oligarchs, activists and lawmakers are demanding that the United Arab Emirates be banned.
After the invasion of Ukraine, private aircraft and superyachts tied to oligarchs flocked to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a shelter for the Russian ultra-wealthy, avoiding the effects of global sanctions.
Bill Browder, a financier and regime critic of Vladimir Putin, stated, “Dubai has long been a haven for illicit funds. It must immediately be placed on financial blacklists, and its leaders are not welcome here.”
He stated that secondary penalties should be put on the UAE if it does not assist countries in pursuing the oligarchs’ assets.
It was revealed this week that one of the most costly private jets in the world, formerly owned by Roman Abramovich, has been grounded in Dubai for more than three months. The US Department of Justice referenced the $350 million Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s last known journey from Moscow to Dubai on March 4 in legal documents requesting its seizure.
A judge also authorised agents to confiscate a second aircraft belonging to Abramovich in Moscow, a Gulfstream G650ER, despite the likelihood that it would not be promptly impounded.
Like many others seeking the assets of oligarchs, FBI investigators have discovered that the trail typically goes to the UAE. There has also been an increase in Russians purchasing real estate there.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was placed on a “grey list” by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in March due to flaws in its procedures to combat money laundering and other financial crimes. There are now calls for the UAE to be included on comparable international lists.
UAE officials do not believe they are compelled to follow sanctions devised by other nations but assert they are striving to address issues raised by the FATF.
On February 24, the same day that Russia invaded Ukraine, the government signed several mutual legal assistance and extradition pacts with other states, including the United States.
The fate of Abramovich’s private jet may be a test of the country’s dedication to international collaboration. On February 25, the UAE abstained from voting on a United Nations Security Council resolution denouncing the invasion of Ukraine.
Karen Greenaway, an attorney and former FBI agent who specialised in illicit money flows, stated that US agents would probably certainly seek assistance from UAE authorities regarding the jet associated with Abramovich.
She stated, “UAE authorities say they are cleaning up their act in terms of financial openness, but must now tread a fine line between Russia and the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.”
The UAE is a famous tourism destination for Russians and is also home to around 100,000 Russian speakers. In the first three months of 2022, property purchases in the emirate climbed by 67 per cent, according to a survey by the Dubai property brokerage Better homes.
According to the Financial Times, the futuristic £240 million Motor Yacht A, owned by billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, was spotted in the northern emirate of Ras al-Khaimah.
In March, the EU imposed sanctions on Melnichenko, and in the same month, Italian police seized his 143-meter Sailing Yacht A. Motor Yacht A has evaded sanctions enforcement thus far.
The superyacht Madame Gu has been linked to Andrey Skoch, a millionaire and member of the Russian parliament subject to sanctions by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. The location of the superyacht, which is also subject to American sanctions, is unknown. The last recorded sighting was on March 6 in Dubai.
The Burj Khalifa, the world’s highest artificial structure, is located in the heart of Dubai.
Since the invasion of Ukraine, Dubai’s status as a haven for the Russian elite has once again drawn attention to its efforts to prevent money laundering and illicit funds.
An examination into a leak of Dubai property data that was published last month uncovered numerous property owners charged or convicted of crimes or subject to international sanctions, including business people with ties to the Kremlin.
Members of the European Parliament requested in a letter to Mairead McGuinness, commissioner for financial services, that the United Arab Emirates be added to the list of nations that pose serious vulnerabilities to the financial system.
According to Danish MEP Kira Marie Peter-Hansen, the current research has proven that the UAE is a haven for criminal proceeds, corrupt officials, and Russian oligarchs. She stated, “We want the UAE to be placed on a blacklist, especially because so many Russian oligarchs use the country to dodge sanctions.”
Officials from the UAE did not respond to our request for comment.