Medeshi April 23, 2009
Dubai denies laundering Somali pirates’ money
Shadiah Abdullah Arab News
DUBAI: The deputy commander in chief of Dubai police has denied allegations published in a UK-based newspaper that the emirate has been laundering money belonging to Somali pirates. The Independent ran a story on Tuesday claiming that huge amounts of money taken in ransom from vessels hijacked off the Horn of Africa were being laundered in Dubai and other Gulf countries.
The paper, quoting investigators hired by the shipping industry, said around $80 million (£56 million) has been paid out in ransom to pirates in the past year. The paper added that the so-called “godfathers” of the illicit operations include businessmen from Somalia and the Middle East, as well as people of South Asian nationalities.
Maj. Gen. Khamis Mattar Al-Mazinah gave a statement to the Arabic daily Al-Emarat Al-Youm saying the report was baseless and untrue.
He stressed that the UAE is the only country in the region that has prosecuted money launderers and issued rulings against them. He pointed out that in the UAE any amount over 40,000 dirhams is considered questionable until proven otherwise.
The Independent quoted Christopher Ledger, manager of Royal Marine Company, as saying that “there is evidence that those groups are active in Dubai and play a fundamental role in the piracy taking place in the Horn of Africa. Huge amounts of money the pirates receive facilitate their access to the latest technology when it comes to ransoms.”
The report added that while some of the money has ended up in Somalia, millions have been laundered through bank accounts in the UAE and other parts of the Middle East.
Al-Mazinah noted that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — an inter-governmental body whose purpose is the development and promotion of policies, both at national and international levels, to combat money laundering and terrorist financing — includes the UAE.
FATF issues periodic reports about countries that do not cooperate in monitoring money laundering. “We did not receive any report about money laundering taking place in the UAE,” Al-Mazinah said. He added that Dubai police have been cooperating with other countries in detecting money laundering and fraud that have taken place in those countries.
Al-Mazinah said certain parties, which he declined to mention, were targeting the UAE’s reputation by disseminating unfounded rumors. He reiterated that there are competent authorities tasked with holding noncooperating countries accountable and that the media is not among those authorities.
He underlined that Dubai police did not bar any journalist or any media outlet from seeking verification of stories before publication. He added that people are at liberty to log into the FATF website to read reports about the UAE before propagating rumors.
The Independent published its report without any comments from the security authorities in Dubai or from the UAE Central Bank.