UAE defends itself over alleged transfers to terrorists
The governor of the United Arab Emirates central bank said Sunday October 28 that US banks would be as much to blame as those in his own country if money transferred from the Gulf state ended up financing the September 11 terror attacks.
"A part of the money came from the UAE, but it also went through the US," Sultan bin Nasser Al-Suwaidi told a gathering at the Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-Up, an Abu Dhabi think tank.
"Therefore financial institutions in the US should also be condemned for the same lapse. No one should be blamed, because no one anticipated that these people (recipients) would use (the money) for bombings," he said.
Suwaidi had admitted on Wednesday that about $100,000 transferred from the UAE to Florida could be linked to the September 11 suicide hijackers. He told a news conference that the money went from an exchange house in the emirate of Sharjah to a bank in Florida, but did not disclose the name of the exchange house or the exact amount involved.
"There were some transfers of money last year and this year," he said, and when pressed for details added there had been four transactions over six months last year and this year. The Los Angeles Times has reported that two of the suspected hijackers, Mohammad Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, the latter a UAE national, held bank accounts with Citibank and HSBC in the UAE before going to the United States.
Suwaidi said on Sunday that although the UAE is located near drug trafficking centers, it remains clean but is being condemned because of its open banking system. UAE banking institutions had been the target of "an aggressive campaign which is not based on hard evidence," he complained.
"Internally, the UAE does not have 'dirty' money and there is no large market for drug trafficking... We have seen some cases of embezzlement, but this happens all over the world," Suwaidi said. "Even if dirty money is imported, it is limited in the UAE," he added.
The central bank chief said the UAE was ready to cooperate with international efforts to track down suspicious transactions and publicize its findings if any such cases were uncovered. — (AFP, Abu Dhabi)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)