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An Abu Dhabi court has slapped Dh90 million fine on four expats and a jewellery trader after they were convicted of money laundering and fraud. Image Credit: Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: An Abu Dhabi court has ordered four expats and a jewellery trader to pay Dh90 million after they were convicted of money laundering and fraud.

The expats, all Filipinos, were also sentenced to five years in jail, followed by deportation for their crimes, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department said on Tuesday.

According to court records, the convicted had defrauded about 4,000 other Filipinos on the pretext of investing in gold. Authorities seized a number of valuables from the convicts, including 7.4 kilograms of 18-carat gold valued at Dh1.37 million.

Each of the four will have to serve their imprisonment terms, and pay Dh10 million in fines. The jewellery trader, owned by one of the convicts, must also pay Dh50 million in fines.

Dh1.37m

value of around 7.4kg of 18-carat gold recovered from the accused

Coordinated efforts

The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) confirmed that the arrest of the defendants in this case and their prosecution are part of the UAE's efforts to combat money laundering crimes. These efforts are a result of coordination between the various judicial, executive and financial authorities, with an aim to effectively prevent money laundering activities and deter suspicious financial transactions.

The four accused had been referred to the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court by the Public Prosecutors on the charges of money laundering and appropriation of victims' funds. They had lured other Filipino residents to invest in a jewellery trading company that one of them owned, using the Gold Empire Management website as a platform.

Pyramid scheme

The accused reached out to potential victims using ads, video clips and a contests posted on the website and its associated social media accounts. Victims were offered a Dh2,000 subscription to buy into the trade. A mock-pyramid scheme was also created, in which each investor victim who brought in another investor was paid an additional Dh1,000. Such activities amount to fraud because they roll over sums collected from each subscriber to older members, without any of the subscribers receiving any value for their investment.

The ADJD urged residents to be cautious about deals and schemes that appear too good to be true, and to report any suspicious financial and commercial activities.