Abu Dhabi Court. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: R.S.A., a British expatriate, has been sentenced to ten years in jail and ordered to pay a Dh5 million fine, to be followed by deportation, a court in Abu Dhabi has ruled. Seven other defendants -- French expat H.N.Z., German expat G.A.S, Kyrgyz expat S.A., Kazakh expat A.A., Lithuanian expat V.S., Indian expat S.M.S., and Dutch expat R.A.A. – have all been sentenced to seven years in jail and ordered to pay Dh5 million, to be followed by deportation. A.A.M., an Emirati, has also been sentenced to seven years in jail and ordered to pay Dh5 million in fines.

The court also ordered nine companies to each pay Dh50 million in fines. Proceeds from their financial crimes, including cash as well as tangible and intangible assets, have also been seized.

The arrest and prosecution of the accused took place in compliance with various authorities and after thorough tracking and scrutiny of financial transactions, as part of the UAE’s integrated efforts to combat money laundering.

Suspicious transactions

According to the court, a report was from the Central Bank of UAE about suspicious banking transactions in the bank accounts of two companies. An increase in the volume of turnover was noticed, even though this increase did not coincide with the companies' activities. After auditing and tracking the accounts, it was found that actions had been taken to conceal the source and ownership of certain illegal proceeds.

Abu Dhabi Public Prosecution thereafter launched investigations. Investigators found that the first accused, R.S.A., tried to conceal illegal activities in oil trading without a licence from the competent authorities. He also tried to conceal the source of the funds earned from such activities. To achieve those aims, the defendant had transferred funds to other companies, some of which did not even exist. Companies receiving those funds were either shell companies created to conceal the source of illegal funds or they did not have any record of their transactions with the accused.

The investigations also showed that R.S.A. had agreed with the other defendants to transfer some of the funds obtained to the accounts of their companies. 

As part of the investigation, the bank had taken steps to shut down the bogus accounts and sent a report to the Central Bank's Financial Information Unit to examine R.S.A.’s operations in all banks. These operations were found to be suspicious and unsupported by documents. R.S.A. was also found to have obtained commercial licences that enabled the opening of bank accounts through which money could be laundered.