Is Dubai the new crime hub for tax fraud

Published:  11 Aug at 6 PM
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Expat tax fraudsters are flooding to Costa del Dubai

The futuristic desert city of Dubai is being used as a refuge by fraudulent tax evaders from the UK. Loved by the ultra-wealthy and famous, Dubai is now being nicknamed ‘ the World’s new Costa del Crime’ in a reference to the Southern Spain region formerly a refuge for UK criminals and fraudsters. Data leaked from the normally watertight government agencies show a high number of wanted and suspected criminals have purchased luxury mansions in several of Dubai’s most upscale districts. The leaked information giving details of home ownership between 2014 and 2016 is believed to have come from a whistle-blower and has now been picked up by special investigators hunting missing millions pocketed via VAT fraud in the UK.

The fraud, known as a ‘carousel fraud’, involves crooks setting up businesses both overseas and in the UK in order to import goods not liable for VAT, selling the goods plus VAT and fleeing the country when the collected tax payment falls due. Dubai is being used as a base due to the UAE’s lax laws on money-laundering and lack of transparency concerning business transactions and banks. As a result, tracking the frauds is far harder in the UAE than in Europe.

Journalists working with investigative group Finance Uncovered are reporting people accused of the fraud listed as Dubai property owners, with purchases often made using the proceeds of their crimes. In addition, it’s suggested that the Emirates Hills ultra-luxury development is crammed with properties owned by wealthy expats who’ve looted millions in sterling from public funds. Apparently, one wealthy British financier already accused of tax evasion holds luxury property worth millions. Also in the spotlight is an unnamed Conservative peer of the realm who has failed to report his UAE property investments.

Speaking for the Dubai Land Management, an unidentified person said all activities and processes undertaken by the department are in compliance with Dubai’s regulatory and legislative laws as well as its policies, all of which are in force in Dubai and across the UAE. The laws are in line with international laws created to promote world peace, combat terrorism financing and eliminate organised crime.
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