Convicted US lawyer Asim Ghafoor transferred $4.9 million through UAE banks, says embassy

The countries have been sharing information about the case for more than two years



Photo: Asim Ghafoor Official Website
Photo: Asim Ghafoor Official Website
by

A Staff Reporter

Published: Mon 8 Aug 2022, 6:47 PM

Last updated: Mon 8 Aug 2022, 10:39 PM

US citizen Asim Ghafoor, who was convicted by a UAE court over tax evasion and money laundering, transferred at least $4.9 million through the UAE banking system.

In a statement, the UAE Embassy to the US said the two countries have been sharing information about the case for more than two years as part of “intensified cooperation to combat transnational money-laundering and illicit finance”.

The international transfers were executed through multiple bank accounts that Ghafoor opened "with the intent to conceal the origin of the funds from tax authorities". One account was opened as early as 2013 and another was closed in 2020 after suspicious activity was detected, the mission said.

The UAE initiated its investigation in 2020 into Ghafoor’s activities after receiving an official request from the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi on behalf of the US Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division. Based on this investigation, a UAE court convicted Ghafoor on charges of money laundering and tax evasion on May 25, 2022.

“While Ghafoor was not a resident of the UAE, dozens of cash deposit and debit transactions were made on his accounts through ATMs based in the UAE by an unidentified third party using Ghafoor’s bank cards. The investigation established evidence that the transfers on the accounts were inconsistent with the original purpose for which they were opened,” the embassy said.

The intent was to “conceal or disguise the nature and origin of the funds obtained from illegal sources”.

The UAE provided the US details of these transfers which were directed to recipients in several countries.

This evidence was presented to the UAE Court of First Instance, which convicted Ghafoor under relevant articles of the Federal Decree-Law No.26 of 2021 on Anti Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism and Financing of Illegal Organisations, and Article 1 of Federal Law No. 7 of 2017 on Tax Procedures.

Since his arrest, Ghafoor is being “afforded due process of the law and has been advised by legal counsel in the UAE”.

He intends to appeal his conviction with his next court appearance set for August 9. Ghafoor and his counsel have had “multiple opportunities to confer in person or by video at their choosing and he has appeared in court on two occasions”.

“At a previous hearing, the court denied his request for bail pending appeal. He continues to have regular contact with his family and with US consular officials,” the embassy added.

The case “reflects expanded UAE and US legal cooperation” to combat transnational financial crimes.

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