Joint UAE-US investigation finds American lawyer Asim Ghafoor guilty of money laundering, tax evasion 

Joint UAE-US investigation finds American lawyer Asim Ghafoor guilty of money laundering, tax evasion 
The two countries have been sharing information on Ghafoor’s case for more than two years, the report added. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 09 August 2022

Joint UAE-US investigation finds American lawyer Asim Ghafoor guilty of money laundering, tax evasion 

Joint UAE-US investigation finds American lawyer Asim Ghafoor guilty of money laundering, tax evasion 
  • The UAE had launched an investigation into Ghafoor’s activities in 2020 after receiving an official request for assistance from the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi
  • The UAE-US investigation collected evidence that showed that the transfers on the accounts were inconsistent with the original purpose for which they were opened

DUBAI: A joint investigation between the UAE and the US found that convicted American lawyer Asim Ghafoor had transferred $4.9 million through UAE banks with the intent to conceal or disguise the nature and origin of the funds, according to a statement from the UAE Embassy in Washington DC. 

The UAE had launched an investigation into Ghafoor’s activities in 2020 after receiving an official request for assistance from the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi on behalf of the US Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division, UAE national Gulf News reported. 

The two countries have been sharing information on Ghafoor’s case for more than two years, the report added. 

 

Despite not being a UAE resident, Ghafoor had made dozens of cash deposit and debit transactions on his accounts, through ATMs based in the country by an unidentified third party using his bank cards, the statement said. 

The UAE-US investigation collected evidence that showed that the transfers on the accounts were inconsistent with the original purpose for which they were opened; they were being used with the intent to conceal or disguise the nature and origin of the funds obtained from illegal sources, according to the embassy’s statement. 

Multiple bank accounts were opened with the intent to conceal the origin of the funds from tax authorities – including one that was opened as early as 2013 and another that was closed in 2020 after suspicious activity was detected.

The transfers were then directed to recipients in several countries, including the US. 

Based on the investigation, a UAE court convicted Ghafoor on charges of money laundering and tax evasion on May 25.

This evidence was presented to the UAE Court of First Instance which convicted Ghafoor under Articles 1, 2/1, clauses a, b, and c 2/3, 5/3, 22/1. 261-2, 29/1 of UAE Federal Law No. 20 of 2018 as amended by Federal Decree-Law No.26 of 2021 on Anti Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism and Financing of Illegal Organizations, and Article 1 of Federal Law No. 7 of 2017 on Tax Procedures, the embassy said. 

Since his arrest, Ghafoor is being afforded due process of the law and has been advised by legal counsel in the UAE. Ghafoor has said indicated that he intends to appeal his conviction with his next court appearance set for 9 August, the statement added. 

He and his counsel have had multiple opportunities to confer in person or by video at their choosing and he has appeared in court on two occasions.

According to the embassy, the court denied his request for bail pending appeal at a previous hearing, adding that he continues to have regular contact with his family and with US consular officials.

The case reflects the extensive legal cooperation between the UAE and US to combat transnational financial crimes, the report added. 

A joint statement following the UAE-US bilateral meeting on 16 July said that: “President Biden recognized the UAE’s efforts to strengthen its policies and enforcement mechanisms in the fight against financial crimes and illicit money flows.”

The UAE’s efforts have included new regulations and policies, enhanced monitoring, and additional prosecutions, sanctions and fines against individuals, banks and other entities, according to the embassy. 


Iranians outraged after TikToker shot dead in protests

Iranians outraged after TikToker shot dead in protests
Updated 24 sec ago

Iranians outraged after TikToker shot dead in protests

Iranians outraged after TikToker shot dead in protests
  • Najafi was shot six times in the city of Karaj, receiving bullets in the face and neck

DUBAI: A funeral has been held for Hadis Najafi, a young Iranian woman who was shot dead by security forces during protests near Tehran.

Najafi was shot six times in the city of Karaj, and was hit by bullets in the face and neck, according to a report by Radio Farda.

Videos of Najafi's funeral has been circulated on social media as online users paid tribute to the 20-year-old.
She had earlier gone viral in a TikTok video where she was seen tying her hair and preparing to join the anti-government protests, which were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the ‘morality police’ for breaching the strict Hijab rules.
At least 41 people have been killed as Iran continues to crack down on the nationwide demonstrations.


Algeria’s UN integration will develop with support, says FM Lamamra

Algeria’s UN integration will develop with support, says FM Lamamra
Updated 6 min 27 sec ago

Algeria’s UN integration will develop with support, says FM Lamamra

Algeria’s UN integration will develop with support, says FM Lamamra
  • Algiers seeks non-permanent seat on Security Council
  • Candidacy endorsed by African, Arab and Islamic bodies

LONDON: Algeria’s development remains on track and will continue with the support of UN member states, the country’s foreign minister Ramtane Lamamra said on Monday.

During his speech at the General Assembly Debate, Lamamra also reaffirmed his country’s push for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

“My country is a member of the UN, it celebrates this year the 60th anniversary of independence,” he said. “It resolutely pursues the process of building a new Algeria under the leadership of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.”

He continued: “My country reaffirms its compliance with the values and principles (of the UN) and its determination to revive the role of multilateral action in keeping international peace and security and the achievement of comprehensive, fair, and sustainable development.”

Lamamra outlined Algeria’s commitment to the principles of the UN charter ahead of elections scheduled for next June on membership in the Security Council.

“Algeria is aware of the magnitude of unprecedented challenges that arise at the international and regional levels,” he said.

“Therefore, it has submitted its candidacy for the position of non-permanent member of the Security Council, a candidacy endorsed by the African Union, the League of Arab States, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.”

Lamamra also confirmed Algeria would host an Arab Summit on Nov. 1 and 2, and that Algiers “aspired to make this event a crucial step in the joint Arab action, for an effective contribution of the Arab world to dealing with the current challenges on the regional and international scenes.”


UAE lifts mandatory mask policy in indoor places

UAE lifts mandatory mask policy in indoor places
Updated 32 min 50 sec ago

UAE lifts mandatory mask policy in indoor places

UAE lifts mandatory mask policy in indoor places
  • Masks are still mandatory in medical facilities, place of worship, and public transport
  • The new rules, effective from Sept. 28, waived social distancing between worshipers

DUBAI: UAE residents are no longer required to wear masks in indoor public places, in the country’s biggest ease of restrictions since the outbreak of COVID-19, the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) announced.

However, masks are still mandatory in medical facilities, place of worship, and public transport, officials said.
“Senior citizens and residents and people with chronic diseases are advised to continue wearing masks for their safety,” according to Dr. Saif Al-Dhaheri, NCEMA’s official spokesperson.
The new rules, effective from Sept. 28, also waived social distancing between worshipers, while keeping the mask policy in mosques and other places of worship.
Shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak, the UAE placed a stringent mask policy in indoor and outdoor places, imposing $815 (Dh3,000) fine on violators.
In February, authorities lifted the requirement to wear masks outdoors.
Face masks will also be optional in schools.
Under the new rules, the isolation period for COVID-19 positive cases has been reduced from 10 days to five. Close contacts are required to take a PCR test only if they display symptoms.


Iranian football legend Ali Karimi under fire for condemning Mahsa Amini’s death

Iranian football legend Ali Karimi under fire for condemning Mahsa Amini’s death
Updated 41 min 18 sec ago

Iranian football legend Ali Karimi under fire for condemning Mahsa Amini’s death

Iranian football legend Ali Karimi under fire for condemning Mahsa Amini’s death
  • Former captain of Iran’s national football team has capitalized on his wide social media following to voice support for protests

DUBAI: Iranian football legend Ali Karimi, known as the Asian Maradona and the Magician, has come under fire for his social media posts condemning the suspicious death of Mahsa Amini after being detained by Tehran’s morality police.

Karimi, former captain of Iran’s national football team, has capitalized on his wide social media following to voice support for demonstrations against the government after Amini’s death.

His critical comments have earned scorn and blame from politicians, and has been accused of being one of the leaders what they describe as “riots” and “sedition,” Radio Farda reported.

“Don’t be afraid of strong women. Maybe the day will come when they are your only army,” to football legend wrote on Twitter for his more than 450,000 followers.

The Dubai-based Karimi has nearly 12 million followers on Instagram, where he also extensively posts support for the protest actions as well as tips about safe virtual private networks for Iranians to use to bypass state Internet restrictions, which have intensified amid the protests.

Meanwhile, Iranian civil rights activist Hossein Ronaghi has claimed he was beaten by guards in Tehran’s Evin prison, in a report from Radio Farda.

Prison officers broke his leg during the beating, while Ronaghi’s mother said her son told her he had been injured by guards, journalist Masoud Kazemi posted in a tweet on September 25.

The arrest comes amid anti-government protests over the death of 22-year-old Amini after she was taken into custody by morality police for the alleged improper wearing of a hijab.


Tension escalates at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound

Tension escalates at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound
Updated 27 September 2022

Tension escalates at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound

Tension escalates at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound
  • Jordan urges Israel to stop provocative actions
  • Arab League condemns violation of international law

RAMALLAH: Tension escalated at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday, with incursions into the area by hundreds of Jewish settlers, under the protection of Israeli police, to mark the start of Rosh Hashanah.

It came as Jewish extremist groups continued calls to be allowed to enter the compound on Monday and Tuesday to celebrate the Jewish New Year.

Ambassador Haitham Abu Al-Foul, spokesman at the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign and Expatriate Affairs, called on Israel to put a stop to the settlers’ activities and respect the sanctity of the compound and the authority of the Jerusalem Awqaf Administration in line with international law.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, home to over 350,000 Palestinians, in 1967, but Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are under Jordanian guardianship.

On Monday morning Israeli police placed a cordon around Al-Aqsa, preventing the entry of young people under the age of 40 and stopping all noon prayers, as around 335 Jews toured the compound.

Five Palestinians were injured by police at the Lion’s Gate, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. They were taken to Al-Makassed Hospital. Worshippers — including women and children — performed noon prayers at the doorsteps of the mosque instead.

Israel imposed a complete closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip crossing late on Sunday afternoon in conjunction with Rosh Hashanah over fears of escalation. The state of alert will continue until the end of the holiday. 

Many Palestinians fear that Israel will introduce a division of use of Al-Aqsa, as happened with the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, allowing both faiths access, but closing it to the other during specific holidays.

The Palestinian presidency condemned the escalation at the compound, warning that continuation would lead to potential violence.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesperson for Palestinian Authority’s presidency, stressed that the Palestinians would not allow Al-Aqsa Mosque to be damaged or desecrated in any way, and would stand against the occupation.

The Palestinians claim the mosque has become a scene of political strife with the approach of the Israeli elections on Nov. 1, with major right-wing Israeli parties competing to win more votes from the right by allowing access to the compound.

The Arab League condemned the storming of Al-Aqsa, holding the Israeli government responsible for igniting the situation.

The spokesman for the league’s secretary-general, Jamal Rushdie, said in a press statement that the storming of Al-Aqsa and the arrest of several Palestinians inside was aimed at imposing a temporal and spatial division in the mosque, changing the existing historical and legal situation.

This continuous policy on the part of the occupying government represents a flagrant violation of international law, and provokes Palestinians and Muslims in general, he added.

Rushdie said that the intensification of incursions ahead of the Jewish holidays adds to the state of tension that already exists in the occupied Palestinian territories, especially in Jerusalem.

He said that imposing a siege on Al-Aqsa and arresting those stationed inside it is an unacceptable crime.

Rushdie called on the international community to assume its responsibilities and confront this dangerous Israeli escalation.

Tension is expected to continue until the end of the holidays on Oct. 17.

Israeli authorities issued warnings about the potential for violence in the coming days against Israeli citizens, after announcements made by Fatah and Hamas calling on Palestinians to oppose Israelis approaching Al-Aqsa.

“There is a clear increase in alerts about plans to carry out attacks, and the police are responding to the threat of deploying large forces,” said Israeli Police Commissioner Yacov Shabtai.

Thousands of Israeli police will be deployed at roadblocks, shopping centers and entertainment venues, synagogues and crowded sites across Israel.

According to the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper’s website, the Israel Defense Forces currently have at least 25 battalions in the West Bank to enhance security during the Jewish holidays.

Hundreds of IDF members and police are also deployed in the Jerusalem area, as well as inside Old Jerusalem and on the roads leading to Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Fatah called on Palestinians to confront extremist Jewish groups and stop settler incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque and its courtyards, and to prevent them from performing prayers, blowing trumpets, offering sacrifices, or marching.

Hamas, too, called on the Palestinian citizens of the West Bank, Jerusalem, and inside Israel to stand against the settlers.

“We need the greatest Arab and Islamic support at all levels for the Palestinian people and the holy sites, so that we can protect Jerusalem and defend the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque with all the tools of struggle,” said Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum.