EU politicians want to blacklist Dubai

The United Arab Emirates may end up on the same list as North Korea and the Cayman Islands, following exposé about oligarchs and criminal Europeans with property in Dubai.

Politicians from the four largest groups in the European Parliament propose new measures against Dubai to limit money laundering. EU parliamentarian Markus Ferber in the center-right group The European People's Party (EPP).

(BRUSSELS): Last week, E24 and more than 20 European news outlets revealed how Russian oligarchs and sanctioned politicians, criminals on the run from the authorities and a wanted Irish «mob boss» are all registered with luxury property in Dubai.

The «Dubai Uncovered» investigation are based on a massive leak of property data from 2020, shared with E24 by the research foundation Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS).

Leading politicians from the four largest groups in the European Parliament are now saying the time has come to ramp up the EUs effort to combat money laundering in Dubai, an emirate and well known tax haven in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

– The «Dubai Uncovered» leaks further support a tougher treatment of the UAE, said EU parliamentarian Markus Ferber of the European People's Party (EPP) to E24.

Les også

Dubai Uncovered: Data Leak Exposes How Criminals, Officials, and Sanctioned Politicians Poured Money Into Dubai Real Estate

«High-risk» countries

The EPP consists of representatives from the center-right parties in the European Parliament and is the largest group. Ferber leads the fiscal policy work, is deputy chairman of the parliamentary subcommittee on tax matters and has a long career in the German Christian Democrats.

- The EU's blacklist against money laundering is reviewed on a regular basis. I think the European Commission should take a closer look at the Emirates next time they revise the list. There is definitely a strong case for putting the UAE on the list, said Ferber.

– If you are an entity from a listed jurisdiction, suddenly it becomes considerably more difficult to do business with EU companies.

DETAILED: EU parliamentarian Markus Ferber (EPP) looks at the leak from the Dubai property register. It contains information such as name, passport number, size and location of properties. Tomm W. Christiansen / E24Threat to welfare states

The EU has blacklisted several «high-risk third countries» that they believe «pose significant threats to the financial system of the Union». These countries are facing additional control measures and more difficult access to the European financial system.

Among the countries on the list are North Korea, the Cayman Islands and Iran. Now the Emirates risks ending up in the same company.

- «Dubai Uncovered» confirms once again that the United Arab Emirates have very loose anti-money laundering provisions in place. Given that Dubai is a significant financial hub, such deficiencies might also have implications for other jurisdictions such as the European Union, said Ferber.

The leak of property data examined by reporters includes a total of 800,000 Dubai properties owned by 274,000 private individuals and companies from around the world.

Needs coordination

Following the investigations published last week, the left wing of the European Parliament has also asked for stricter measures towards the UAE.

The Social Democrats in the European Parliament were the first to demand the immediate blacklisting of Dubai.

When E24 meet the Spanish parliamentarian and economist Jonas Fernandez in the European Parliament earlier this week, he said they consider Dubai a threat to European welfare states.

- Yes absolutely. We have a problem with the national authorities not being able to collect taxes to finance our societies. The only solution is to coordinate the work through the union, Fernandez said.

PUSHING FOR OPENNESS: Jonas Fernandez from the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party want to pressure Dubai to cooperate more.

Fernandez represents the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party. He believes Dubai should be forced to disclose the names of foreign homeowners in the emirate.

- There are many opportunities for measures against Dubai to force them to cooperate. The EU is a member of many multilateral institutions, and is a large market with 450 million consumers, he said.

– Highly damaging

This Wednesday, Liberal MPs, the Greens and the Social Democrats, sent a letter to the EU Commissioner for Financial Stability, Mairead McGuinness, demanding immediate action:

LETTER SENT: Among the initiators of the letter was Danish Kira M. Petter-Hansen in The Greens.

«One week ago, The Dubai Uncovered revealed yet another example of how the United Arab Emirates is a notorious safe haven for criminal proceeds, corrupt officials, Russian oligarchs and ultra-high net worth individuals.

It is clear, that the United Arab Emirates facilitates money laundering at a grand scale. This is highly damaging to the EU and cannot be tolerated.»

With this letter we ask the commission to step up in the fight against money laundering, said Kira M. Petter-Hansen, member of The Greens, to E24.

- We can not accept that the United Arab Emirates is used as a safe haven for criminal activities, and especially given the great amount of Russian oligarchs using UAE to avoid EU sanctions, the EU needs to accelerate its actions, said Petter-Hansen, who is elected from Denmark.

FROM MEETING TO MEETING: Fernandez and his colleagues rush between meetings of the European Parliament.

– Need to sharpen our tools

The European Commission has made the fight against money laundering and tax evasion a priority. The Commission is headed by Ursula von der Leyen, a party colleague of Markus Ferber of the European People's Party.

- In the end our own anti money laundering defences are only as strong as the weakest link in the chain, and that is why we need to sharpen our tools for anti-money laundering, Ferber said.

European citizens and companies have property worth more than USD 30 billion in Dubai, according to calculations made by a research group that has analyzed the leaked data.

Kira M. Petter-Hansen, member of The Greens.

The UAE Embassy in Oslo have previously provided the following statement to E24, OCCRP, and their media partners:

«The allegations made with regard to Dubai property ownership records are factually inaccurate. The UAE operates clear regulatory frameworks that comply with international laws and standards designed to combat financial crime. Dubai Land Department processes and activities are a cornerstone of these efforts.»