ABU DHABI 29 July 2021: The Abu Dhabi Criminal Court, which has jurisdiction over money laundering and tax evasion offences, has convicted nine defendants and six companies for possessing Dh18 million through fraudulent means using a computer-based process.
As for the criminal scheme, one of the defendants, operating from outside the country, would contact the victims, claiming to be working for foreign investment companies specialising in trading cryptocurrencies and promising them huge profits. He asked them to transfer money to company accounts inside the UAE to convince them of his claims.
The accused persons have also been prosecuted for money laundering through an organised criminal group, by transferring and concealing the truth of the proceeds of the predicate crime, possessing money and using it immediately upon receipt in internal bank transfers, depositing them in their bank accounts and then transferring them between the accounts of their companies to send the larger amount out of the country.
The court sentenced four of the accused of different nationalities in their presence and the other accused in absentia, to ten years imprisonment and a fine of AED10 million each, with deportation, once their sentences were served, except for the second accused. The court also sentenced the companies to a fine of AED50 million each, with the seizure of the funds involved in money laundering, whether it was cash in the accounts of the accused, or any of the material or moral assets belonging to them and resulting from money laundering, as well as the seizure of the proceeds and means used in the commission of the crime in any way whatsoever, said Wam.
The discovery of this criminal activity, the arrest of the accused and their prosecution were made possible thanks to the effective measures of the various competent authorities, as part of the integrated efforts to combat money laundering and as part of the measures taken by the Central Bank and other financial institutions. It was also made possible thanks to the strength of the legislation and laws in force to combat this type of crime.
Regarding the details of the case and the modus operandi, several persons were conned by the fraudulent scheme and exhorted to invest in a shell company, which the accused claimed specialised in trading digital currencies and shares in the global markets. They were promised quick profits of up to 30 percent in a week and periodically encouraged to raise the ceiling of their so-called investments to increase profits. However, a condition set for the disbursement of the said profits to pay a tax aroused the suspicions of one of the victims who tipped off the competent authorities.
The Abu Dhabi Public Prosecutor’s Office initiated investigations, which led, after research and enquiries by the relevant authorities, to the discovery of a fraudulent organisation that specialised in swindling the victims and attempting to conceal their origin using inter-bank transfers. The monitoring of the movements of funds in the accounts of the accomplice companies generated suspicion about these bank operations, due to the rapid circulation of funds without economic justification or any supporting documents, which revealed the money laundering offences. The Public Prosecution Service, therefore, froze the accounts of the suspects and brought them before the competent court, which handed down the judgement.