Is Dubai Europe’s New Costa Del Crime?

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Dubai has become the destination of choice for a new breed of tax fraudsters fleeing Europe to spend their ill-gotten gains.

Crooks who have fleeced the UK Treasury of hundreds of millions of pounds have been trailed to the glass and steel desert capital of the United Arab Emirates loved by the rich and famous in the Middle East.

Data leaks from the state’s normally watertight government agencies have revealed many suspected and wanted criminals own or have owned luxury homes in the plushest neighbourhoods of Dubai.

And investigators in Britain consider Dubai has taken over from Spain as the favoured sunshine destination of crooks.

Whistle-blower leaks documents

The information comes from a whistle-blower who has leaked details of home ownership in Dubai between 2014 and 2016.

They have been picked up by investigators hunting down the missing millions of crooks pocketed from VAT ‘carousel’ frauds.

In a carousel fraud, traders set up companies in the UK and overseas to import VAT-free goods and then sell them through the network with VAT added but flee the country before handing over the tax they have collected.

The gangs use Dubai as a base because the UAE has laxer money-laundering rules than the EU and less transparency between banks and business transactions, making the fraudsters harder to track than in Europe.

Streets of shame

Journalists from the investigative group Finance Uncovered say they have found several people accused of carousel fraud listed as property owners in Dubai and that the home purchases were often made with funds that were the proceeds of crime.

The journalists claim:

  • Emirates Hills, an exclusive development has roads lined with homes linked to wealthy owners who have allegedly looted millions of pounds from public funds
  • A British financier accused of tax evasion owns luxury property worth millions
  • A Tory peer who failed to report his property interests in the UAE

A spokesperson for the Dubai Land Department said: “All processes and activities carried out by the Dubai Land Department comply with legislative and regulatory policies and laws in force in Dubai and the UAE, which are in line with international regulations aimed at promoting global peace, eliminating organised crime, and combating the financing of terrorism.”

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