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UAE Central Bank freezes hawala operators' accounts

posted on 26/02/2007: 2019 views

The UAE Central Bank has issued a notice to all banks and money exchange houses instructing them to freeze accounts of hawala operators and those involved in money laundering, a statement said. The move comes as Dubai Police launched a major crackdown on hawala operators last week resulting in a number of arrests in downtown Dubai, officials said.

"The UAE Central Bank, in view of the reports received from Dubai Police General Headquarters, issued a notice to all banks and moneychangers, operating in the country instructing them to freeze the accounts of the main suspects, those who assisted them as well as the nine companies involved in the case," a Dubai Police statement said yesterday. "In addition, all transfers in the said names were also prohibited."

Market officials said police have shut down a number of offices used by hawala operators and confiscated large sums of hard currency from operators.

"Police officials have rounded up a number of hawala operators from their offices in downtown Deira and shut their operations near the Gold Souq and Murshid Bazaar - Dubai's major wholesale market, forcing others to go underground," an official told Gulf News.

Dubai has been used by currency traders from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, among others, as a transit point. While some operators move currency to legalise their clients' black money, others use the currency for trading, finance banks' letters of credit and money laundering.

Millions of dollars are transferred electronically among operators in Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong for these purposes. The UAE Central Bank has remained vigilant in combating money laundering and financial crimes, the statement said.

"As a result of the common coordination between Dubai Police and the UAE Central Bank's Anti-Money Laundering and Suspicious Cases Unit, over a period of almost a year and a half, we have taken measures to detect those operations through the commercial and financial activities, carried out by the suspects," the statement said. Dubai Police are preparing to finalise a detailed report on the issue to take legal measures.

"The above measures fall within the firm policy framework of the UAE in combating financial crimes, including money laundering and terrorism financing, as well as the country's determination to support international efforts in this regard." (Gulf News)


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