In a move to battle money laundering and strengthen the UAE's position as a financial power, the UAE Central Bank recently implemented a set of new regulations to foil the practice.
Laurence Yousuf Al Moalim, a financial and banking expert in Dubai, told <i>Khaleej Times</i>, "The Middle East is under special attention internationally because of alleged funding of terrorist movements," referring to the fact that US intelligence services believe that a portion of the money used to fund the 9/11 attacks had passed through the UAE.
"Money laundering does exist in Dubai, but within controllable range," Moalim added, saying that UAE authorities were working closely with institutions world-wide to combat organized crime.
He also said billions of dollars were generated by organized crime were laundered annually.
Dubai, according to Moalim, remained attractive for criminals for a number of reasons, including its tax-free status and strategic location serviced by many airlines.
"By trying to create ideal conditions for everyone, our financial structure also attracts dirty money," he said.
In 2002, the UAE passed a law to fight money laundering, with local punishment for offenders in line with international regulations.
"Convictions normally vary from several years of imprisonment to a heavy fine combined with a jail sentence, besides the usual restitution of assets" Moalim stated.
In addition, financial institutions now require more detailed information from their customers, while banks now monitor accounts more closely and report suspicious movement immediately.