STOCK jailed prison handcuff crime arrest
The defendants have each been sentenced to ten years in jail and a fine of Dh10 million. They will be deported after serving their jail sentences. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi Criminal Court has convicted nine individuals, and indicted six companies, for money laundering and cryptocurrency trading after they stole Dh18 million in funds from unwitting victims.

The defendants have each been sentenced to ten years in jail, followed by deportation for all but the second defendant. Each defendant must also pay a Dh10 million fine. The verdicts were announced in the presence of four defendants, with the rest in absentia.

The companies were also each fined Dh50 million and all funds and assets obtained through the laundering operations have been seized.

Shell company

According to a statement issued by the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD), the defendants had encouraged their victims to invest in a shell company that they claimed was specialised in trading digital currencies and global stocks.

A defendant living outside the UAE had initially contacted the victims, claiming that his work for foreign investment companies enabled him to invest in cryptocurrencies at highly profitable rates. The victims were asked to transfer their money to a UAE-based shell company, from where a major portion of the funds were transferred by the defendants to bank accounts held outside the UAE.

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UAE measures

The criminal activity was reported by one of the victims, who became suspicious of the high profit rate promised, and the tax that allegedly needed to be paid before collecting the profits.

The discovery of this criminal activity, and the arrest and conviction of the accused, is a result of the effective measures taken in the UAE to combat money laundering.