International consensus on condemning the UAE for crimes of money laundering and support for terrorism
The major countries are unanimous in condemning the UAE for crimes of money laundering, supporting terrorism and providing a safe haven for fugitives from international sanctions, the last of whom are the wealthy Russians.
Western officials are increasingly calling for the UAE to punish Russia for its war in Ukraine and not to be an outlet for wealthy Russians subject to Western sanctions.
Britain’s Secretary of State for International Trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, urged more countries to punish Russia for its war against Ukraine during an interview in the UAE, which like other Gulf states has so far resisted Western pressure to take sides.
Trevelyan said that her country is dissatisfied with the UAE’s welcome to receive rich Russians trying to escape Western sanctions against Russia. The invasion of Ukraine “was a heinous, unjustified and illegal war.”
“We urge all countries to stand by us in making this fully clear and to impose sanctions and restrictions on those who chose to support (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” she added.
Dubai, the financial centre of the UAE, emerged as a haven for the Russian wealth that moved to the city after Western sanctions targeted Putin’s allies and dealt a blow to the Russian economy.
Sources said that wealthy people from Russia moved to the country, set up businesses and bought luxury homes.
Earlier, media reports spoke of many wealthy Russians taking refuge in Dubai to avoid Western sanctions targeting Russian individuals, banks and companies in response to the war Russia has been waging against Ukraine since February 24.
The US Commerce Department said a Boeing 787 Dreamliner owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich arrived in Dubai in March.
Two diplomatic sources said that Emirati officials, in private conversations, tried to reassure their foreign counterparts by saying that Russians under sanctions would not be able to do business in the UAE.
The minister responded to a question about whether Britain suspected the Russians were using the UAE to circumvent the sanctions, saying that the imposition of sanctions was a sovereign decision, without answering whether there was discomfort about that.
This came just a day after the US administration publicly condemned the UAE’s money laundering record and provided a safe haven to the assets of wealthy Russians to escape international sanctions.
Washington has expressed its concern about the UAE’s record in combating money laundering and the transformation of the country, especially Dubai, into a haven for Russian funds, which is facing intense Western sanctions due to the Russian war on Ukraine.
This came in statements by US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf during a parliamentary hearing.
“I am not at all happy with the UAE’s record of money laundering and turning it into a haven for Russian money, and I plan to make this a priority to achieve a better alignment of efforts in this regard,” Barbara said.
During the session, US deputies unanimously agreed that the UAE represents a bad centre for money laundering and provides a haven for many wealthy Russians to establish their trade in Dubai in defiance of US and international sanctions on Moscow.
The New York Times had said that allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin are still welcome in the UAE, where they arrive on yachts and private planes.
According to the newspaper, at least 38 businessmen or officials linked to Putin own dozens of properties in Dubai, with a total value of more than $314 million, according to data compiled by the American Center for Advanced Defense Studies.
For its part, the British newspaper The Observer reported last March that bankers, real estate agents and car dealers in Dubai reported an unusual demand for homes, sports cars and marinas, adding that many transactions are conducted in cryptocurrency.