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24 May 2024

Abu Dhabi Criminal Court Convicts 13 Defendants and 7 Companies for Laundering Amounts of Money Derived from Unlicensed Credit Activity

By E247

The Abu Dhabi Criminal Court, which has jurisdiction over money laundering and tax evasion offences, convicted 13 defendants of Indian nationality, and seven companies belonging to them, for the offence of laundering money derived from the practice of 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 510 million dirhams.

The court sentenced 4 defendants in presence and in absentia as regards the accused on the run, to prison sentences ranging from 5 to 10 years, the confiscation of the seized funds and the deportation of the convicted persons from the country once their sentences have been served, together with a fine ranging from five to ten million dirhams. The companies involved in these crimes were each fined ten million dirhams.

As regards the facts of the case, the defendants had set up a criminal organisation for the practice of 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, and 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.