All that glitters is not gold: soon the UAE in the black list for money laundering and as a high risk country for the evasion of sanctions to Russia

31 Oct, 2022 | Press Releases

Brussels, 31 October 2022

The European Commission is preparing to designate the United Arab Emirates as a “high risk” country for money laundering and to propose that the European Parliament and the EU Council add the UAE to the appropriate “black list”. This is what the European Commissioner for financial services, Mairead McGuinness, assured in a letter on October 24th to the Director of Transparency International, Michiel van Hulten, in response to a request relating to her interest in the absence of adequate anti-money laundering tools in the country formulated by various non-governmental organizations and that has always been supported by No Peace Without Justice.

It goes without saying that the situation of total opacity of the Emirati financial institutions has become even more flagrant since the adoption of the international sanctions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine: many Russian oligarchs have in fact transferred their goods, not only to evade sanctions, but to continue operating under the obliging umbrella guaranteed by the Emirs, further strengthening the image of a veritable “safe haven” for dirty business in the false heaven on earth.

For years, No Peace Without Justice has been conducting this campaign, “All that glitters is not gold”, referring to the UAE so that the prevailing “double standard” finally comes to light, which consists in considering “accessibility” in a country that is not only clearly a tax haven and an undisputed “refugium peccatorum” and the object of every positive consideration, but is also a ferocious dictatorship, implacable towards political opponents and ready to use the military power that comes from its his unlimited availability of money to export its power model to the entire Gulf area and North Africa.

It is a policy that very often clashes with the geo-political interests of the European Union and that always clashes with the aim of promoting peace, respect for human rights and democracy, even though it is the ideal basis for the EU’s external action.

The fact the UAE is divided into seven emirates with distinct financial rules, and has two free zones and as many as 29 commercial free zones makes the UAE the ideal destination for investments and business of organized crime and internationally sanctioned individuals or entities, so that total banking opacity can’t help but favor all types of illegal activities, including terrorism.

It is difficult, then, for sanctions or other control instruments to have an effect if they can count on such a “reliable” and, to date, safe bank.

The FATF, the International Financial Action Group set up by the G7 to develop anti-money laundering policies, therefore did well to include the UAE in its “gray list”, placing the country under greater monitoring and further strengthening controls in June.

It is now up to the European Union to proceed quickly, first to place the UAE on the black list and then to finally rethink its policy towards the country: is it conceivable, especially in light of current international events, to continue to consider a real “rogue state” as a strategic partner just because it is an important supplier of energy resources and a significant economic and commercial counterpart?