UAE: Dh1m fine, jail for fraud involving virtual assets



Dubai - UAE residents to conduct due diligence before investing in cryptos.

By Waheed Abbas & Sandhya D’Mello

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Published: Sun 30 May 2021, 10:26 PM

The UAE residents have been advised to conduct due diligence before investing their money into any virtual assets due to prevalent uncertainties and risks associated with online investments.

Arshad Khan, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Arabian Bourse, conducting enhanced due diligence is essential for any type of investment decision making, detecting the source of information relied on is crucial as well as the ability to trace it.

“It is important to check the related affiliations and make sure it is endorsed by trusted parties. Through developing an understanding on the stakeholders involved, investors can increase their potential gain by conducting background checks like whether the company has strong business plans that solve real problems,” he said.

Has asked companies to specify clearly why they are raising funds, where the funds will be invested, and what are the pay back options. “Who is the custodian of the funds and who is regulating the business for which the funds are being raised are some other due diligence checks that investors should do before investing their hard-earned money,” he added.

Currently, Abu Dhabi Global Market and Securities & Commodities Authority are the only authorities in the UAE that regulate digital currencies and other virtual assets.

Eman Pulis, group founder of SiGMA, also urged residents and investors in the country to source information through reliable and official channels.

“It is, however, inevitable that any new disruptive technology that is still finding its place in the mainstream, and where regulatory foundations are still being developed, that scam artists will seek to find a way in. We urge everyone to be vigilant and to follow legitimate, trusted information sources.”

The advisory comes in the wake of a UAE resident losing all of his Dh15,000 savings by investing in the digital currency ‘DubaiCoin’ (DBIX), a purportedly newly-launched virtual asset.

The virtual currency was reportedly launched by Arabian Chain Technology, but the company denied that it’s behind the launch of this new asset.

“We haven’t made such an announcement, please be cautious. Also, this website is fake and a scam. Please be careful,” the Dubai Silicon Oasis-based Arabian Chain Technology said in a tweet last week.

The Dubai Electronic Security Centre also announced on May 27 that the “DubaiCoin” has not been approved by any official entity of the emirate and that the website promoting the coin is an unlicenced site, which aims to phish email information, passwords and phone numbers of people through an electronic form.

Sources told Khaleej Times last week that an investigation is underway into this new ‘virtual currency’.

However, people engaging in crypto currency frauds be fined up to Dh1 million as well as imprisonment in the UAE for violating the regulations.

Ashish Mehta, founder and managing partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates, said in the absence of specific laws on crypto currencies in the UAE, the federal laws on combating cybercrimes may be used to address unlawful activities involving such kind of currencies.

“So a victim of digital currency scams, may invoke provisions of the Federal Decree-Law No. (5) of 2012 on combating cybercrimes, to seek help of law enforcement bodies in the UAE. Article 11 of the said law, may be the most appropriate,” he said.

Article 11 stated those shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of at least one year and a fine not less than Dh250,000 and not in excess of Dh1 million, or either of these two penalties whoever takes over a personal property, benefit, deed or its signature whether for oneself or for other persons and without legal right, by resorting to any fraudulent method or by adopting a false name, or false personation through the computer network, or an electronic information system or any information technology means.

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