Abu Dhabi Courts. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Criminal Court has convicted 13 defendants of Indian nationality, and seven companies belonging to them, for laundering money derived from an economic activity consisting in the provision of credit facilities through points of sale (POS) without first obtaining a licence from the competent authorities, for a total amount of Dh510 million.

The court sentenced four defendants in presence and in absentia as regards the accused on the run, to prison sentences ranging from five to 10 years. It also ordered the confiscation of the seized funds and the deportation of the convicted persons from the country once they have served their sentences, in addition to the payment of a fine ranging Dh5-10 million. The companies involved in these crimes were each fined Dh10 million.

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The defendants had set up a criminal organisation to carry out an economic activity without a licence from the competent authorities and which consisted of providing credit facilities, using the points of sale of several companies, at the headquarters of a travel agency which was chosen as a venue for this criminal activity by making false purchases through the POS of the companies created for this purpose, or by the misuse by some of the defendants of the powers granted to them to deal with the bank accounts of companies owned by third parties without the knowledge of their owners, in exchange for the deduction of a percentage in favour of the company that owns and uses the POS device for each withdrawal operation.

The inquiries of the Public Prosecution and the investigation reports showed that the criminal group used the headquarters of the travel agency owned by two of the defendants to make credit card payments to customers who wished to receive such services, by making fictitious transactions through the POS devices of the companies owned by the defendants, either by paying on their behalf the amount in cash by making a purchase with the customer’s credit card in favour of the companies that were set up solely to obtain these devices from the banks, with deduction of an additional amount as interest and giving the customer the remaining amount in cash, or by settling the customer’s debts on his bank card by depositing amounts in cash on his account and then making another fictitious purchase and deducting the amount of the interest.

Also, the bank transaction reports and the financial analysis issued by the Financial Information Unit (FIU) also indicated significant financial flows into and out of the bank accounts of the defendants and their companies in a short period of time that would be impossible within the legal framework of their respective economic activities, in addition to a multitude of financial operations on these accounts through deposits, withdrawals and transfers with the intention of concealing their source.