UAE rubbishes 'Dubai Unlocked' real estate report claims based on 'data leak'

Earlier this year, the Emirates was removed from the FATF grey list, reflecting the country’s commitment to fighting financial crime

by

Angel Tesorero

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Published: Wed 15 May 2024, 4:03 PM

Last updated: Thu 16 May 2024, 1:48 PM

The UAE takes its role “extremely seriously” in protecting the integrity of the global financial system, and it has recently earned praise from an international body combatting money laundering.

This was given emphasis by a UAE official who rubbished on Wednesday a report that claimed the country has “served as a safe haven for some of the world’s most wanted criminals, due in part to the secrecy its real estate sector affords.”


The country has made strides in going after so-called global criminals, the official noted, underscoring: “In February (this year), the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF), the global standard-setter for measures to fight money laundering, praised the UAE’s significant progress.”

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“UAE's removal from FATF’s grey list reflects the country’s commitment to fighting financial crime and sanctions evasion, and is a big boost to its financial system,” banking and financial experts said in an earlier interview with Khaleej Times.

Data leak

The report, published by Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project on Tuesday, said: “Thanks to a new leak of data, reporters have identified scores of alleged criminals, individuals facing sanctions, and political figures accused of corruption who have owned property there.”

Continuing efforts

The UAE official reiterated “the (government) takes its role in protecting the integrity of the global financial system extremely seriously.”

“In its continuing pursuit of global criminals, the UAE works closely with international partners to disrupt and deter all forms of illicit finance. The UAE is committed to continuing these efforts and actions more than ever today and over the longer term.”

Due diligence

A Dubai-based developer, meanwhile, told Khaleej Times they conduct due diligence on property buyers “not only because it is a legal requirement that is strictly enforced by the UAE, but also for (their) own safety, to ensure that those who invest with (them) can afford to do so legitimately.”

Farhad Azizi, CEO of Azizi Developments, explained: “As a first step, when a buyer signs the offer to purchase (OTP), he/she has to provide all of his/her documents, including their passport copies and Emirates ID if applicable. We rigorously examine the buyer’s identity and information on their source of funds, and payment for the deposit.”

Farhad Azizi, CEO of Azizi Developments
Farhad Azizi, CEO of Azizi Developments

The legitimacy of funds is to be fully ensured. “Payment has to be cleared through one of the UAE’s financial institutions in order to be accepted by us. Only once it clears their compliance will we receive it in our escrow accounts and can proceed with the property transaction,” Azizi added.

Azizi Developments is currently building Dubai's second tallest tower with a vertical mall and hotel that is set for completion in 2028 at a cost of Dh5.5 billion. The Dubai-based private developer also has around 40,000 units under construction that are to be delivered by 2027.

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