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Dubai and UAE should be blacklisted and face sanctions for sheltering oligarchs and ‘dirty money’, activists say: report

Oligarchs have put assets such as superyachts in Dubai.

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    • A growing number of politicians and activists are calling for Dubai to be blacklisted: The Observer.
    • 8 European Parliament members signed an open letter to a European Commissioner demanding sanctions.
    • The Financial Action Task Force watchdog put Dubai on its ‘gray’ earlier this year.

Politicians and activists are calling for Dubai and the United Arab Emirates to be blacklisted over its failure to observe sanctions against Russian oligarchs and stem the flow of dirty money flowing through the UAE. 

Western countries including the US and UK hit Russia with stringent sanctions in February after Russia invaded Ukraine. This prompted some oligarchs to flee to Dubai and buy properties in the UAE. 

“Dubai has long been a safe place for dirty money. It should now be put on financial blacklists and its leaders shouldn’t be welcome [in Britain],” Bill Browder, a campaigner and critic of Vladimir Putin, told Britain’s The Observer newspaper.

Browder joins a growing list of politicians and activists who have called for sanctions against the UAE. Last month a group of European Parliament members signed an open letter to European Commissioner Mairead McGuinness calling for the UAE to be blacklisted. 

“How many scandals will it take before Dubai gets on the EU money laundering list?” asked Kira Peter-Hansen, one of the MEPs to sign the open letter, in a tweet on May 11. 

The letter came after news reports that the UAE is a safe haven for Russian oligarchs who took their private jets and yachts to places such as Dubai in an attempt to escape western sanctions. 

“It is clear that the UAE facilitates money laundering at a grand scale,” the letter stated. “This is highly damaging to the EU and cannot be tolerated.” 

The Financial Action Task Force, a global financial crime watchdog, placed the UAE on a “gray” list in March to monitor its activities and encourage stronger action against money laundering. 

An investigation and data leak in Mayt from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) in May exposed how sanctioned individuals have poured money into Dubai.

The Dubai Financial Services Authority did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

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