x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

UK recovers Dh1.8m from sale of drug dealer’s Dubai apartment

In what has been hailed as the first successful UK confiscation order in the UAE, the flat belonging to Redwan El Ghaidouni, 38, was sold after he was convicted at Kingston Crown Court in March 2011 of importing and possessing drugs.

DUBAI // The UK has recovered more than Dh1.8 million from the sale of a Dubai Marina apartment owned by a British drug dealer, in a ground-breaking move.

In what has been hailed as the first successful UK confiscation order in the UAE, the flat belonging to Redwan El Ghaidouni, 38, was sold after he was convicted at Kingston Crown Court in March 2011 of importing and possessing drugs.

The money was recovered by the crown prosecution’s proceeds of crime unit in London, working closely with the recently deployed CPS asset recovery adviser in Dubai.

The cash, which now goes into the British public purse, was recovered after an asset-sharing agreement between the UK and the UAE.

Emirati lawyer Yousuf Al Bahar said the agreement was a sign of great maturity between the two countries, and would be a major deterrent to criminals operating in the UAE and Britain.

“This will be the rope tightening around the neck of many individuals and even groups of criminals who make profit from illegal activities,” Mr Al Bahar said.

“It’s going to help reduce and even choke the activities of organised crime and money laundering, and therefore protect more innocent people in the UK and UAE.”

He called for more countries to sign agreements, on the condition that it does not breach their justice systems.

Mr Al Bahar also said this case should be highlighted so that people knew they could not get away with the proceeds of crime.

“The general awareness of the public is also a weapon to scare off criminals who, when reading about this case and this agreement, will probably start to quit criminal activity, because now there is nowhere to hide,” he said.

“None of them will be able to get away with the money made from illegal business, therefore they might as well quit the business once and for all.

“This is great news and is a sign of maturity and growth in the legal systems of both countries,” Mr Al Bahar said.

Emirati judge Ahmed Saif said the goal behind the agreement was to protect the community.

“Without such an agreement crimes of money laundering would increase, but now the criminal will think 1,000 times before committing the illegal activity from which he only cares for financial gain,” Judge Saif said.

“He will think that if the money is being confiscated, then there is no use in illegal business in the first place.”

The judge agreed that other countries should adopt such agreements.

“Those who get lured by making much fast money through an illegal business like the drug trade because the money gets saved and secured in some other country, will simply stop when their money is being confiscated wherever it’s being sent,” Judge Saif said.

Gary Balch, deputy chief crown prosecutor in the UK, said: “It is unacceptable that drug barons should be allowed to profit from their criminal activity, and our successful action in this case demonstrates our determination to deprive them of their ill-gotten gains.

“Organised criminals often move their assets across borders to prevent them from being confiscated, but the crown prosecution service can and will follow the money wherever it leads to reclaim the proceeds of crime.

“Criminals often consider that hiding money overseas is a safe bet and that their assets will be untouchable. They are mistaken and should take note of today’s result.”

Mr Balch said the CPS aimed to have five asset recovery advisers working on criminals’ foreign assets by the end of the year, to close the net on British criminals.

As it stands, CPS has an adviser in the UAE and Spain.

salamir@thenational.ae