Caoimhe Robinson, wife of US sanctioned Kinahan Cartel’s kingpin owns properties in Dubai

Kinahal Cartel, Caoimhe Robinson,, Daniel Kinahan
Image credit: Sunday World

In 2023, Caoimhe Robinson, wife of US sanctioned Kinahan Cartel’s kingpin bought a 20,569-square-foot villa, still under construction, for about US$2.1 million in an upscale section of Dubai, close to Zayed University. Even unfinished, the structure’s white walls, arched doorways and red roof call to mind an elegant Mediterranean retreat, one befitting an area that one real estate website describes as “a true lifestyle destination”.

The villa is one slice of the Dubai property portfolio of Robinson and her husband, Irish boxing promoter Daniel Kinahan, who is accused of running a deadly global drug cartel.

According to International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), newly available documents show that Robinson has been buying and selling property in Dubai — even after the US in 2022 hit Daniel; his father, Christopher Kinahan, his brother, Christopher Kinahan Jr.; and several of their associates with sanctions for alleged international drug smuggling and money laundering.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration is also offering a US$5 million reward for information leading to Daniel Kinahan’s arrest.

But for UAE authorities, harboring criminals, terrorists, gangsters, fugitives, scammers and corrupt individuals is a regular phenomenon.

According to ICIJ, Kinahan is not the only suspected crime boss living in Dubai. The United Arab Emirates’ opaque financial system and lack of extradition treaties have made the country a magnet for some of the world’s most dangerous criminals and individuals evading sanctions. His wife’s property transactions show how easy it can be to get around sanctions.

An analysis of leaked property records and Dubai land records shows that as recently as 2022, Kinahan and his wife were listed as the owners of a combined total of four properties in Dubai, with Robinson selling at least one held in her name a few months ago.

In February, Robinson sold a luxury four-bedroom apartment in the fashionable Elite Residences skyscraper, overlooking Dubai Marina, for US$1 million.

In 2018, Robinson bought an apartment in Al Mesk Tower, one of six residential skyscrapers of the Dubai Marina complex. Dubai land records show that Ian Dixon, one of Daniel Kinahan’s closest associates, had been renting the apartment since at least May 2017. Dixon had been paying nearly US$40,000 a year to rent the one-bedroom property before Robinson bought it.

The US Treasury Department sanctioned him for providing financial and technological support for Kinahan’s narcotics trafficking.

Robinson’s name also appears in the property data as a controlling party of an additional two properties: a villa in the Parkway Vistas development and another villa in the elite Emirates Hills neighborhood. Those properties were sold in 2022 and 2023, respectively. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists couldn’t independently verify whether she was their actual owner, and they are not included in the tally of properties the couple own in Dubai.

Robinson has fought to keep the unfinished Mediterranean-style villa she bought in 2023.

The property was seized after she bought it and put up for auction as part of a separate legal dispute between the previous owner and another party.

Robinson took the previous owner to court and had her ownership rights to the property reinstated; the auction did not take place. She was also awarded about US$500,000 in compensation, according to court and tax records obtained by The Irish Times and ICIJ.

Daniel Kinahan had a separate spat over an office he bought in 2017. Located inside the glittering Jumeirah Bay X3 Tower, the office overlooks the dazzling Dubai skyline and is minutes from the lush greenery of the Emirates Golf Club. It is the former headquarters of two of his businesses: MTK Global, the now-defunct boxing and mixed martial arts promoter, and Ducashew General Trading. The Dubai land registry indicates that, in November 2023, Kinahan was blocked from selling the office because of a rental dispute and overdue service charges of US$16,784. The records don’t say who blocked the sale.

In response to US sanctions, authorities in the UAE froze Kinahan’s assets and blocked the sale of property owned by the Kinahan family members and companies under sanctions. But the sanctions don’t include some spouses and partners, which makes them less effective.

For example, the US sanctioned Nero Drinks Co. Ltd., a U.K.-based alcoholic beverage company owned or controlled indirectly by John Morrissey, another close Kinahan associate. US authorities say that John Morrissey has given a significant portion of the business to Daniel Kinahan to compensate for drugs seized by law enforcement, ICIJ reported in 2022. But the primary owner of Nero Drinks was Nicola Morrissey, who is married to John Morrissey and whom U.S. authorities say he uses as a front person; she has not been sanctioned.

The US has also not sanctioned Robinson. The Treasury Department did not respond to requests for comment on its decision not to sanction her.

Asked about Robinson’s property transactions in Dubai, officials from An Garda Síochána, Ireland’s national police service, said they do not comment on named individuals who have not been or are subject to sanctions or arrest warrants as part of the international operation against the Kinahan Organized Crime Gang.

William McMurry, who served in the FBI’s New York office for 24 years and now heads W1 Global, a consulting firm that specializes in complex financial crimes, including fraud, corruption and money laundering, told ICIJ that the Kinahan cartel sanctions may be too limited.

McMurry said that sanctions deployed too broadly could draw legitimate criticism that they punished individuals or companies unfairly but the Kinahan cartel sanctions appeared to present almost the reverse problem: they may be too narrow to be fully effective.

“I believe that sanctions can improve behavior but knowing how far to cast the net requires a delicate balance because their ramifications are lasting and every case is different”, McMurry said.

“Regardless, it isn’t rocket science to note that the Kinahan cartel is a family business and the liquidation of assets in a secrecy jurisdiction like Dubai by the wife of the alleged chief of the cartel is likely to benefit them both.

“Setting the Kinahan case further apart is the fact that Daniel Kinahan, his father, his brother and their close associates are facing grave allegations of criminality by several governments”, he said.

Roy McComb, former deputy director of the UK’s National Crime Agency, also questioned the US decision to exclude Robinson from the punitive action.

“Any opportunity for organized criminals to launder criminal property should be challenged”, McComb said.

Robinson’s property transactions came to light as part of Dubai Unlocked, a six-month investigation into the UAE’s booming and secretive property market led by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) together with more than 70 media partners, including ICIJ and The Irish Times. The investigation shows how oligarchs and criminals bought real estate in some of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the Middle East.

It is based on newly leaked property records dated from January 2022, which were obtained by the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), a US nonprofit organization, and shared with E24, a Norwegian news outlet, ICIJ and other news media.

The UAE authorities did not respond to the reporters’ specific questions but defended the country’s commitment to the fight against financial crimes. In an emailed statement to ICIJ’s UK media partner, The Times, an official with the UAE’s British embassy said that the “UAE takes its role in protecting the integrity of the global financial system extremely seriously,” and that the country “works closely with international partners to disrupt and deter all forms of illicit finance”.

The Kinahan crime cartel emerged in Dublin in the late 1990s and has since expanded internationally, now operating in the U.K., Spain and the UAE. The cartel has been linked to at least 20 killings in Europe, according to Europol, the European Union’s police agency. The gang set up hundreds of companies, many reportedly in the food and real estate industries, to hide and move huge quantities of cash made from selling drugs.

The Kinahans fled Dublin after the infamous 2016 assassination attempt on Daniel Kinahan at the Regency Hotel. In 2017 Kinahan and Robinson threw a lavish wedding party in Dubai. (Robinson’s previous partner, gang boss Micka “The Panda” Kelly, was shot and killed in Dublin in 2011 in a gang-related attack).

Guests at the secret celebration, held at the exclusive Burj al Arab hotel, included crime bosses from all over the world who authorities allege, along with Kinahan, had formed a “super cartel.” Among them were Dutch mobsters Ridouan Taghi, accused assassin and ringleader of the Angels of Death gang, and Naoufal Fassih; Dutch-Chilean gangster Ricardo Riquelme Vega, aka El Rico; and Italian Camorra crime boss Raffaele Imperiale, according to news reports.

Undercover DEA agents also attended, and some of the guests were later arrested. Taghi was extradited back to the Netherlands in 2019, stood trial and in February 2024 was convicted of murder, firearms offenses and aggravated robbery, and sentenced to life in prison. Imperiale was arrested in Dubai in August 2021 and extradited to Italy in March 2022.

Meanwhile, Daniel Kinahan’s father, Christopher, tried to set up a home and a business in Africa. In 2022, ICIJ reported that several companies controlled by the Kinahan cartel attempted to buy nine aircraft from the Egyptian military in 2020. But the deal fell apart.

The Irish national police have said they are negotiating a deal with the UAE to extradite the Kinahans to Ireland to stand trial.

ArabLeaks – a bombshell report by Blitz

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.

As 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.

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.

Please read the full report in this link.


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