No Iraqi dirty money in UAE banks

A Staff Reporter
Filed on February 15, 2004

ABU DHABI - The prompt action taken by the UAE Central Bank has ensured that it is clean from any money belonging to the former Iraqi regime, Governor of Central Bank Sultan bin Nasser Al Suwaidi said in the capital yesterday.

Speaking to newsmen after delivering an address at a two-day seminar on 'investigating and prosecuting money laundering crimes', held at the Central Bank, Mr Al Suwaidi recalled that the Central Bank, acting upon a list of names it had received from the United Nations, that called for a freeze of the accounts held by members of the former Iraqi regime, issued a circular to all banks in the country.

"The banks have responded saying that none of the names on the list has any account with them," he stated. In fact, since 1990, the accounts of the members of the former Iraqi regime were frozen, he said.

Referring to a branch of the Iraqi bank, the Rafidain Bank, functioning in the UAE, the Governor said that the bank is under the trusteeship of the Central Bank. He pointed out that any bank with assets below Dh40 million is to be placed under the trusteeship of the Central Bank and in the case of the Rafidain Bank, it witnessed a depletion in its assets which dropped from Dh90 million to under Dh40 million.

"We are making efforts to contact our Iraqi counterparts to reactivate this branch in the UAE so that it operates normally," he said. He clarified that the Rafidain Bank has no case of pending debts owed to the UAE, and added that initiatives had been taken to train the Iraqi Central Bank staff in operations of modern banking. We are also ready to provide them technical support, he added.

Ambassador of US Marcel Wahba described the seminar as indicative of the long journey the US and the UAE have taken together during the last two years to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

"The UAE has been a leader in the global effort to prevent money laundering and the US Government is particularly grateful for the cooperation and leadership of the UAE in this important endeavour," she remarked.

She went on to say that the leadership of the UAE, from passing comprehensive legislation criminalism money laundering to working with international law enforcement authorities to track down terrorist financiers and combating financial crimes, has been a model for the rest of the region and the world.

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