موقع إخباري يهتم بفضائح و انتهاكات دولة الامارات

Ukraine’s War Reveals UAE as a Haven for Dirty Money 

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In previous years, Putin’s oligarchs resided and invested billions of dollars in the West, owning fancy brands, famous football clubs and building mansions across Europe and North America. However, when the West imposed sanctions on Russia, Putin’s close friends and family had to move their money from the West to the world’s most notorious country for dirty money–the UAE. 

In recent years, Abu Dhabi and Dubai opened themselves to an influx of illicit wealth, undeterred by anti-money laundry campaigners who focused on the U.S., the U.K., or Switzerland. Apparently, this overflow of dirty money has transformed the desert gulf country into a modern city with the tallest towers in the world. 

But the UAE has long been exposed as a haven for dirty money. Some of the most money laundering scandals took place in the gulf country. For example, according to a U.S. official, “the largest bank fraud in world financial history” happened in the UAE after a Pakistani financier disappeared billions of dollars following the collapse of Bank of Credit and Commerce International, a crooked Bank. 

Crooks, militia leaders, mercenaries and money-laundering men call the UAE home. And now Russian oligarchs flee to Dubai to hide their money, and the UAE welcomes them with open arms. 

According to the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, officials and businessmen linked to Putin own properties throughout Dubai. Deutsche Welle also revealed that Russian oligarchs’ private jets and superyachts recenlty arrived in Dubai. 

A recent report by DAWN explains why these Russian oligarchs and officials would suddenly be relocating themselves and their finances to a flashy city-state on the Persian Gulf.

On the one hand, the sudden sprint toward autarky in Russia and the parallel clampdown on Russian oligarchic wealth in the West means that those funds need a new home. On the other hand, the UAE hosts all of the financial secrecy services traditional offshore havens offer, providing the perfect vehicles to hide and protect ill-gotten gains.

For instance, identifying the owners of Emirati shell companies is wildly difficult. With dozens of different corporate registries scattered across the seven emirates that make up the country, the UAE doesn’t have any kind of unified directory of company ownership that even traditional offshore havens elsewhere maintain. Toss in the fact that dozens more “free zones” exist in the UAE, where more shell companies can be formed, and efforts to create an opaque corporate network are far easier in the Emirates than practically anywhere else.

And that’s only the start. Real estate, already a favorite destination for illicit, offshored wealth in cities like London and New York, is another clear, easy vector for laundering oligarchic wealth in the UAE. As Deutsche Welle noted, purchasing Emirati real estate is “comparatively frictionless,” with little paperwork required and cash “king,” providing anonymity to those behind the properties. After the purchase, the owners can also apply directly for a residency visa in the UAE—a key tool in a country that rarely, if ever, extradites oligarchs wanted elsewhere. As Jodi Vittori, a leading money laundering expert, said, the UAE is “a one-stop shop for illicit finance.”

And that is especially true of Dubai. As Vittori and Matthew Page wrote in a 2020 Carnegie Endowment report on Dubai’s role as a money laundering haven, “part of what underpins Dubai’s prosperity is a steady stream of illicit proceeds borne from corruption and crime. The wealth has helped to fuel the emirate’s booming real estate market; enrich its bankers, moneychangers, and business elites; and turn Dubai into a major gold trading hub.” Among those taking full advantage of Dubai’s new role as a shelter for illicit wealth are not only Russian oligarchs, but also warlords, kleptocrats and money launderers of all stripes from around the world.

Nor is it difficult to see why Emirati leaders would be comfortable opening the UAE’s doors to as much illicit wealth as possible. Given that total estimates of all offshored wealth run to approximately 10 percent of global GDP—or about the equivalent of China’s entire GDP—trillions of dollars remain unaccounted for, looking for homes to be hidden and kept safe. And much of that has already found a safe harbor in the UAE.

That reality, though, may finally be changing. Earlier this month, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, or FATF—the leading watchdog organization overseeing international anti-money laundering standards—formally placed the UAE on its “grey list,” alongside countries like Jordan and Yemen. The listing means that the FATF will put the UAE under increased monitoring, citing its “strategic deficiencies” to counter money laundering.

Suddenly, between the flood of Russian wealth flowing to Dubai and the FATF’s decision, those “strategic deficiencies” are in the spotlight in a way they’ve never been. Whether that attention is enough to end the UAE’s role as the favored offshore haven for Russian (and other) oligarchs remains to be seen. But until that day comes, expect much more illicit and suspect wealth to race to the Emirates, to be washed clean with no questions asked.