Complex Made Simple

Saudi, UAE, crack down on money laundering gangs and officials

Where there are large amounts of money flowing from illegitimate trades or laundering, you will probably find willing individuals that take the bait, the bribes, and try to conceal illicit activities involving them and their co-conspirators

Following a Saudi investigation into money laundering, 4 people were sentenced to a total of 24 years in prison Several money laundering and embezzlement cases involving senior Saudi citizens took place in recent times A gang of nine has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for money laundering activities in the UAE

Where there are large amounts of money flowing from illegitimate trades or laundering, you will probably find willing individuals that take the bait, the bribes, and try to conceal illicit activities involving them and their co-conspirators.

Saudi and the UAE authorities are very watchful of this and successful in apprehending and fining these individuals, and below are a few of the recent cases.

Money laundering and embezzlement gangs in Saudi

An investigation into money laundering and smuggling has led to four people being sentenced to a total of 24 years in prison and the confiscation of $37.3 million, Arab News reported.

A Saudi citizen was found to have given three expatriates access to his commercial bank accounts to transfer funds abroad for a monthly fee of SR30,000 ($8,100), which is deemed a crimea crime according to Article 2 of the Anti-Money Laundering Law in the country.

Last June, a Saudi national and an expat were sentenced to three years in prison for money laundering. The prosecution said that it was working to recover about $1.62 mn smuggled abroad, through the judicial authority’s International Cooperation Department.

Similarly, a money laundering gang arrested in April was sentenced to a total of 106 years in prison and fined $291,000. Around $1.35 mn was seized from the gang, and $540,000 was confiscated from their bank accounts, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

In March, Public Prosecution investigations revealed that 11 Arab suspects and two citizens were involved in money laundering and smuggling.

The suspects used the accounts of commercial institutions to deposit funds and receive transfers from local banks to transfer them later to banks abroad, in exchange for a 5% commission for each transfer.

Following investigations, the suspects were fined $44.82 mn and sentenced to a total of 51 years in prison. The Public Prosecution also seized $47.52 mn, along with $189,000 in cash and funds deposited in their accounts that exceeded $1.89 mn.

Saudi Senior officials jailed and/or fined

A number of money laundering and embezzlement cases involving senior Saudi citizens have taken place in recent times.

A judge, a governor, a colonel in the Interior Ministry, and an expropriation manager were among senior Saudi officials jailed and fined for bribery, embezzlement of public funds, money laundering and abuse of power, a senior official at the Saudi anti-graft watchdog said.

In the first case, a judge was convicted of bribery, abuse of power, and breach of the integrity of the public office, sentenced to 10 years in prison, and fined $81,000, a Riyadh court ruled.

In another case, a governor was convicted of bribery and embezzlement, sentenced to three years imprisonment, and fined $6,750.

A colonel in the Civil Defence Department in one of the regions was also found guilty of bribery, abuse of power for personal interest, embezzlement of public money, and money laundering, sentenced to 10 years in prison, and fined $162,000.

Two additional businessmen were convicted of bribery and complicity in abuse of power and for the embezzlement of public funds and money laundering.

The first, who took bribes, was sentenced to eight years in prison and fined $445,000, the court ruled.

The defendant also had his commercial activities shut down, and was banned from entering into contracts with ministries and other government departments.

The second businessman, who offered bribes, was sentenced to six years in prison, fined $108,000, and was barred from entering into contracts with ministries and other government departments.

His agent was found guilty of bribery and complicity in administrative misuse, sentenced to 4 years in prison, and fined $81,000.

In yet another incident, a citizen was convicted of complicity in breaching the integrity of the public office and sentenced to imprisonment for six months. The $11, 340 bribe and $189,000 in proceeds from the money laundering were confiscated.

A major in the Ministry of the Interior was also convicted of taking bribes and power abuse, sentenced to four years in prison, and fined $5400.

A lawyer was also found guilty of bribery and money laundering, sentenced to seven years in prison, and fined $18,900.

Two more high level cases involved Public Prosecution officials who were convicted of bribery and money laundering. The first was also found guilty of breach of his job duties by disclosing information about the cases he came across because of their job and was sentenced to five and half years imprisonment, and fined $13,500, while the second was sentenced to four and half years in prison and fined $13,500.

A police official was found guilty of smuggling detainees, violating his job duties as a result of mediation, forgery, and covering up a fugitive, sentenced to 7 years in prison, and fined $6,200.

UAE money laundering gang

A gang of nine has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for money laundering activities and for obtaining $4.9 mn through bogus cryptocurrency trade.

The court also fined each of the defendants $2.72 mn and six companies that were involved in the illegal activities were fined $13.62 mn each.

The Abu Dhabi Criminal Court handed down the sentences after the defendants were found guilty of obtaining the cash through fraudulent means and engaging in money laundering activities.

One of the accused who was operating from outside the UAE communicated with the victims. The man, who claimed to be working with foreign investment companies dealing in digital currencies, deceived the victims by telling them they would obtain big profits in return for their investment.

Prosecutors said the man had asked the victims to transfer cash to the bank accounts of companies based in the UAE to make them believe that it was a genuine investment.

After receiving the cash from the victims through internal bank transfers, the defendants who operated through organized criminal groups, deposited the money into their bank accounts, and then transferred the cash between the accounts of their companies.

They then transferred large amounts of the cash to accounts outside the state, with the intention of concealing evidence and disguising the source of the illegal funds.