#ArabLeaks: Money Laundering, Terror Funding and Drug Trafficking


Following the publication of a report in this newspaper exposing how a number of Gulf countries, including the United Arab Emirates, particularly Dubai have turned into safe havens for money launderers, terror funders, drug, arms, and human traffickers, fraudsters, gangsters, terrorists, and radical Islamic jihadist entities, we have received stunning details on individuals and entities which are involved in committing serious crimes being sitting in Dubai. Further investigating this information would result in another Panama Papers, Paradise Papers, or Pandora Papers, which we have named – Arab Leaks (#ArabLeaks).

Country of origin of these individuals and entities are: Dubai, Sharjah, Libya, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Pakistan, India, Yemen, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, United States, Qatar, Iran, Oman, Germany, Portugal, Netherlands, Afghanistan, France, Panama, Taiwan, France, Australian, Syria, Czech Republic, Norway, Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia, Kenya, Kuwait, Italy, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Singapore, Armenia, Russia, Cyprus, South Africa, Sweden, Lithuania, Turkey, Kenya, Portugal, Mauritius, Lebanon, Tanzania, China, Liechtenstein, Djibouti, Bulgaria, Japan, British Virgin, Belgium, France, Seychelles Island, Jordan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Sudan, Panama, Bahamas, Bermuda, New Zealand, Morocco, Belize, Malta, Bangladesh, Czechoslovakia, Cayman Islands, Ukraine, Bahrain, Japan, South Korea, Nigeria, Saint Vincent, Kyrgyzstan, Bermuda, Poland, Malaysia, Spain, Philippines, Finland, Luxembourg, Austria, Algeria, Thailand, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Latvia, Channel Island, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Ireland.

It may be mentioned here that, the UAE is now considered by the EU to be a high-risk country presenting strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering countering the financing of terrorism regimes. The blacklisting of the UAE follows concerns raised by MEPs that it was being used by organized criminals to hide their wealth and more recently, by Russian oligarchs to evade sanctions.

We know that in the media, United Arab Emirates (UAE) strongly condemns terrorism and extremism in all forms. As a dependable ally of the United States and other international partners, the UAE says it works to confront and eradicate terrorism and extremism across the Middle East and worldwide. The UAE believes it cooperates closely with the US in the war on terror. This is a solid commitment between the two countries. This year the government of Dubai issued a new law to combat financial crime, trading irregularities, and terrorism financing. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s and UAE vice president and premier, has also set up a new body, to be known as the Dubai Economic Security Centre (DESC) to monitor financial impropriety in the emirate. However, the EU countries don’t feel the UAE is doing enough.

This grotesque crime involved both the USA and the UAE but the harm was done solely to the people of the USA. Crimes take all shapes and sizes. White-collar crime is less emotive than crimes against humanity.  On a large scale, this is known as terrorism. This is not textbook terrorism. The news channels were not witnessing the falling of the WTC towers. It is still ‘long term’ and uncontroversial terrorism. Apart from taking human lives, these criminal characteristics also involved counterfeiting, criminal product tampering, adulteration, racketeering, conspiracy to defraud, money laundering, and smuggling. This is an account of one such transnational organized crime-terror nexus originating from and with a sustained presence in Dubai.

It should be mentioned here that the crime of terrors took place on American soil but was carried out by Dubai entities, which till now has gone largely undetected and was perpetrated under a perfect disguise over a decade.

For criminals and contrary to the good image UAE likes to perceive, Dubai is widely seen and lived in as a facilitation hub for making a crime empire and financial interests which span the globe. It is one place in the world that is the nucleus of high-end criminality and the source of your funds is rarely questioned.

The organized crime Index recognizes money laundering and terrorist financing as a large-scale, systemic risk in the UAE and the country has become a global center for money laundering. The financial services watchdog put Dubai on the grey list and this year on the black list.

The UAE Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) analyses suspicious transactions and activities that may involve money laundering, financing of terrorism, and related criminal activities. Recently Dubai started to take seriously in bringing criminals to justice. Illicit money transfers, wire fraud, criminal conspiracy – these are the bread and butter cases of the US federal system and the UAE. Are they not? Hence Dubai’s arrests of Raffaele Imperiale (an Italian criminal and a member of the Camorra. He is considered by the authorities as one of the most important drug traffickers affiliated with the Camorra) and perusing Kinahans for international drugs trafficking. All three Kinahans were named as international criminals by the US Department of the Treasury, which placed financial sanctions on them.

It is understood after the arrest and bail in Dubai they have all fled to other safe havens.

Although white-collar criminals like John Barksdale and Vitaliy Dubinin (both wanted by US authorities and now residents of Dubai), did not commit atrocities to human life so it is guessed they may feel safe to stay in Dubai.

Dubai soon announced that it will legislate a specialized court to hear cases relating to alleged money laundering and other financial crime. No sooner did it then become evident from a leaked report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) this year of Russian illicit and sanctioned funds pouring into Dubai, despite so many on US sanctioned and black list.

READ: Cryptoqueen Ruja Ignatova joins fraudulent venture in Dubai

These are the wanted criminals and suspects who hide out in Dubai to avoid facing justice. And this is the irony of Dubai where actual crime is low (high ranking on the safe cities index) but there is no shortage of wanted criminals living there and plenty of double messaging to the world about what it will do to reduce financial crimes. Absolutely hypocritical. These criminals living in Dubai are making their presence felt to the world. By enlarge, as long as the media spotlight is not on them, they are the untouchables and the UAE will make sure that remains the case.

Mark Jonathan Lewin, a man on the media’s radar

Funds from the crime rackets in Dubai were invested in other criminal enterprises (Dubai and mainly the United Kingdom), property, and lavish spending on an epic scale. Emar, Danube, Aston Martin Residence, Akoya, The Address Residence, and Binghatti residence are some of those luxury lifestyle residences in Dubai where these kinds of criminals are taking refuge. Funds from the enterprise were banked in Standard Chartered Bank in Dubai. Not a single shred of suspicion was raised. Funds from Dubai were transferred to companies and trusts administered by Isle of Man entities. More recently Chinese originated illicit substances, particularly fentanyl (and its precursor chemicals) became the ‘next fix’, trafficking growth on the back of the cocaine consumer use explosion since 2015. Fentanyl kills but is inexpensive, needs only small quantities compared to heroin, and is readily sourced from China. The US and now the untapped Europe market became the targets to smuggle via makeshift facilities established in Mexico. The drug trade and harboring drug mafias is where the US and UAE intel community is failing despicably but perhaps deliberately by turning a blind eye. Captagon, Crystal Meth, Captagon, Heroine, Hashish, Cocaine, Tramadol, opium, hemp seeds, and many other narcotics can easily be found in the ghetto of Dubai. In the US, thanks to this laxity, drug deaths now surpass the number of Americans killed each year by guns, car accidents, and the flu! Not so important a societal menace to tackle? Or suffering from a lack of deterrence? Or just pontificating?

The key man to handle the bank transfer proceeds is Mark Jonathan Lewin, a man named in the offshore leak database of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Lewin has over 1000 privately registered companies under his administration. He has presided as the administrator of the IOM registered companies on behalf of the owners of Dubai registered entities i.e. owners. This allowed ‘cleaned’ Dubai funds to be laundered through the IOM companies.

UAE – the safe haven for all forms of crimes

While back in 2019, Dubai was lambasted as a money launderer’s paradise by Transparency International, there is no doubt that Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in general lagging in the world of compliances and regulation, thus granting an opportunity to criminals, terrorists, crypto frauds, illegal casinos, human traffickers, drug cartels, gangsters and scammers in flocking into the UAE and openly continue their illegal activities and enjoy even certain degree of patronization from the authorities concerned.

In its report, Transparency International said:

Over the past months, the UK government has been taking important steps to keep suspicious foreign wealth out of the London property market and clamp down on anonymous company ownership in overseas territories. This will slowly make it more difficult for the world’s corrupt politicians and organized crime groups to launder their dirty billions through the combination of offshore tax havens and the luxury real estate sector that exist within the British system.

But even as one door begins to close, another remains wide open. A new investigative report released this week by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) shows that the Emirate of Dubai offers criminals and the corrupt an easy alternative for laundering their ill-gotten assets — particularly through high-end real estate.

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) in its report titled “Dubai Uncovered: Data Leak Exposes How Criminals, Officials, and Sanctioned Politicians Poured Money Into Dubai Real Estate” said:

Dubai is one of the world’s most secretive offshore jurisdictions, mainly due to a lack of financial transparency, according to The Tax Justice Network.

The advocacy group ranks the United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai, as one of the world’s top ten enablers of both corporate tax abuse and financial secrecy.

“Dubai has an ask-no-questions, see-no-evil approach to commercial and financial regulation, as well as foreign financial crimes,” the group wrote in a 2020 assessment. “It has consequently attracted large financial flows and some of the world’s most high-profile criminals”.

The United Arab Emirates also does not have an extradition treaty with the European Union, the United States, and many other countries in the world. In practice, this means wanted criminal suspects can hide out in Dubai to avoid facing justice.

READ: Gang of scam Dracula lands in Dubai

Although UAE has a stricter law for combating money laundering, it is mostly ignored by the authorities concerned as well as law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

According to October 12, 2022 report published in the VICE World News, “It seems however that drug kingpins who are flagged up by European law enforcement investigators are more likely than ever to get their collars felt in downtown Dubai. New mutual assistance agreements recently entered into by the UAE with European governments mean extradition will become more likely for those who have been red-flagged. The announcement of a UAE liaison officer to be permanently based at Europol’s headquarters could spell the end for high-end criminals seeking sanctuary in Dubai”.

On March 5, 2022, The Brussels Times in a report titled ‘Dubai Uncovered: Belgian criminals live in luxury beyond the reach of the law’ gave a detailed and colossal description of how money laundering and real estate in Dubai has a vast network of ill-gotten gains held by Belgian criminals and sanction individuals.

On February 13, 2021, the UK newspaper The Mirror in a report titled ‘Dubai dubbed new ‘Costa del Crime’ where money talks and British gangsters flock’, where it’s Middle East crime expert Dr. Christopher Davidson who spent six years in the United Arab Emirates cities said: “The old joke was that there were more Brit gangsters in the average bar than at a Pentonville prison roll call”.

Dr. Davidson further said, “In the past, it was people fleeing debts, but there has been a trend for major crime figures to move there. Dubai has replaced the Costa del Sol as the place to be for British gangsters”.

On August 2, 2022, The Critic in an article titled “Gangsters by the Gulf” said, “Close your eyes and think of British criminals abroad. The images which come to mind are probably filled with pink porcine flesh sizzling by the pool, Essex boys in dazzling white villas, “uno beero por favor” and all the other cultural detritus of British crime’s connection with the Costa del Sol in Spain. But things don’t stay still. The noughties are over, and British crime has moved on”.

The Global Initiative in a report dated April 19, 2022 said, “Over the past 20 years, criminal groups from the Western Balkans have become key actors in the global drug trade. Balkan networks are involved in heroin trafficking, cannabis production, and trafficking, as well as the trafficking of cocaine from Latin America into ports in western and south-eastern Europe.

“[…] It is believed that around two-thirds of all Albanian criminal leaders are hiding in the UAE”.

On May 25, 2022, Balkan Insight in a report said “A growing number of Albanian crime figures are finding refuge and laundering money in the United Arab Emirates, knowing that authorities in Albania and elsewhere in Europe will struggle to secure their extradition”.

On November 17, 2021, the EU Observer in an article said, European Union criminals are using Dubai as hideouts. Quoting an EU memo dated November 13, 2021, is further said, police from nine EU states as well as Norway, Switzerland, and the US were conducting joint operations “to locate and extradite the ‘untouchable’ ex-pat criminals and to confiscate their criminal assets”.

On December 31, 2022, the Irish Times in a report said, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been placed on the EU’s money laundering blacklist, a move gardaí hope will increase pressure on members of the Kinahan cartel still living there.

It further said, the leader of the gang, Daniel Kinahan, his father Christy and brother Christy jnr, have been living in Dubai emirate of the UAE for several years and have extensive business and real estate interests there.

On September 28, 2022, UK’s The Sun in a report said, convicted criminals are even allowed to enter Dubai provided the crime was not committed in the United Arab Emirates.

A May 29, 2022 report in the Independent said, despite being declared most wanted by the US authorities, Kinahan gangsters were being harbored by the Dubai authorities.

On May 7, 2022, Le Monde in a report said, oligarchs and criminals, are investing in real estate in the United Arab Emirates.

On August 9, 2017, the Sydney Morning Herald in a report said, the oil-rich Middle Eastern monarchy has long attracted fraudsters, fugitives and shady characters.

On November 18, 2021, the Sunday World in a report detailing how the Emirates has become host to a vast amount of high-value targets.

On January 27, 2023, Jordanian news agency MENAFN in a report said, a cybercriminal syndicate was unearthed in the United Arab Emirates.

On April 23, 2022, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in a report detailed how the Irish gang found a home away from home in Dubai.

On February 3, 2022, the Indian newspaper Outlook in a report said, while the UAE authorities seem willing to cooperate with India on the extradition of terrorists and criminals operating from the Emirates, Dubai has been inclined to resist such moves.

#ArabLeaks is a massive case of investigation centering 2,022 companies and entities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which involves companies and entities from a large number of countries. For conducting such huge investigation, we need participation and collaboration of Delia Ferreira Rubio, Rueben Lifuka, Dion Abdool, AJ Brown, Susan Côté-Freeman, Eka Gigauri, Andrés Hernández, Onyinyechi Ough, Oya Özarslan, Alberto Precht Rorris, François Valérian, and Duncan Wood from the Transparency International; Marina Gorbis, David Broadman, Anders Alexanderson, Sue Gardner, Sanita Jemberga, Tifani Roberts, Drew Sullivan, Paul Radu, Emma Prest, Oliver Rivers, Geoff Hunter, Alexandra Gillis, Julia Wallace, Miranda Patrucic, Peter Jones, James Wright, Ilya Lozovsky, Caroline Henshaw, Kira Zalan, Jared Ferrie, Brian Fitzpatrick, Alexander Dziadosz, Daniel Balint-Kurti, Alessia Carentola, Ekaterina Selivanova, Aubrey Belford, Bernadette Carreon, Dan McGarry, Vlad Lavrov, Anna Babinets, Kevin G. Hall, Graham Stack, Anuška Delić, Šarūnas Černiauskas, Natha Jaccard, Daniela Castro, Lilia Saúl Rodriguez, Eduardo Goulart, Khadija Sharife, Chikezie Omeje, Beauregard Tromp, Arwa Barkallah, Stevan Dojčinović, Pavla Holcová, Rana Sabbagh, Lara Dihmis, Sana Sbouai, Aisha Kehoe Down, Antonio Baquero, Anand Mangnale, Lindita Cela, Tom Stocks, Andrei Ciurcanu, Elena Loginova, Jonny Wrate, David Klein, Mark Nightingale, Jameds O’Brien, Karina Shedrofsky, Dragana Pećo, Amra Džonlić, Sharad Vyas, David Ilieski, Erin Klazar, and Angus Peacock of the OCCRP; Agustin Armendariz, Antonio Cucho Gamboa, Brenda Medina, Bruno Thomas, Caroline Desprat, Clément Doumouro,   Dean Starkman, Delphine Reuter, Emilia Díaz-Struck, Emily Spranger, Fergus Shiel, Gerard Ryle, Gordon Dunlop, Hamish Boland-Rudder, Jeffrey Woolverton, Jelena Cosic, Karrie Kehoe, Kelly Prostor, Moggie Michael, Marie Gillier, Maryse Sulimma, Maxime Vanza Lutonda, Michael Hudson, Miguel Fiandor Gutiérrez, Pierre Romera, Richard H. P. Sia, Scilla Alecci, Soline Ledésert, Spencer Woodman, Sydney P. Freedberg, Tom Stites and Whitney Awanayah in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Blitz and its team of investigative journalists

Back in 2009, we began investigating a Ponzi scheme named Destiny Group in Bangladesh. As we began publishing shocking information about how a group of individuals was scamming hundreds and thousands of people in Bangladesh and swindling billions of takas thus smuggling out a major segment of their dirty cash to the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, USA, United Kingdom, and several European countries, kingpins of this massive scam racket began giving threats in us, while they even sent hitman at our office. But no such evil actions could stop our team. Finally, the Bangladesh government initiated legal action against the members of Destiny Group and until today, most of them are in jail facing numerous trials since 2012, while some of them are on run. According to information, fugitive members of Destiny Group are currently in the United States, Canada, Italy, Malaysia, and Germany where they have invested a significant amount of dirty cash in businesses.

In 2008, team members of Blitz began investigating the Bangladesh campus of a degree mill named ‘The International University’ (TIU) and as a result of our investigation and reports, TIU, which was a degree mill based in the United States had hurriedly shut-down their campus from Bangladesh and finally disappeared.

In 2003, members of our team investigated two Arab charities in Bangladesh, which were funding Al Qaeda and promoting jihadism within madrassas in Bangladesh. Within weeks of exposing these Arab charities, Bangladesh authorities banned their activities in this country.

We also have exposed the jihadist activities of Hizbut Tahrir, which led to a ban on this group in Bangladesh. Similarly, we had exposed the dangerous activities of Zakir Naik, an Islamist preacher, who now is on run and wanted by Indian authorities.

Because of our ongoing investigation of activities of criminals, fraudsters, gangsters, money-launderers, illegal casinos, arms, drug, and human trafficking, and prostitution rings in the United Arab Emirates – team members of our newspaper are getting threats – including intimidating letters from lawyers of the perpetrators of crimes, while those criminals are even trying to silence us through DDoS attacks on the online edition of our newspaper and even by offering bribes, while they may not yet know – nothing can stop us from exposing their crimes and revealing the truth. They need to know – Blitz fears none but God!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here