ABU DHABI // Financial offenders and their ill-gotten cash gains often slip through borders without prosecution because of a lack of awareness and proper investigation, international experts said at a conference yesterday.
The Cross-Border Bulk Cash Smuggling Trial Practice conference was held in the capital to train police and customs officers, prosecutors and judges on how to investigate and prosecute financial crimes, especially money laundering and cash smuggling.
The event, which was not open to the public and included senior judicial officials from the US, was organised by the Ministry of Justice and the US department of justice.
Experts on the sidelines said that although the UAE had advanced laws on financial crimes, enforcement was difficult. "We have received cases from customs officers about people not declaring cash," said Hassan al Hammadi, the chief prosecutor of public funds cases at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department. "But such people would [only] be fined between Dh2,000 and Dh10,000 because the source of the money was not identified."
Mr al Hammadi said collaboration with the offenders' home countries might show those people were involved in laundering schemes.
According to UAE law, a person can be charged with money laundering if the cash is acquired through terrorism, drugs, kidnapping, piracy, fraud, violation of environmental laws, weapons or public funds.
Experts discussed the possibility of abusing banking systems in different countries, citing the hawala money-transfer system as more vulnerable to criminal activities. Hawala is based on trust, and cash can be made available internationally through brokers without moving it or leaving a record of transaction.
"Customs officers should deal with cash as a dead body," said one expert, who asked not to be named. "This body could have been murdered or died naturally. The laws here are very advanced, but the country is a market centre and more control or management of how money comes and goes should be enforced."
The conference ends today.