Cablegate: Uae: Follow-Up Action Request On Illicit Cash
PP RUEHDE RUEHDIR
DE RUEHAD #1838/01 3091025
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 051025Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9977
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABU DHABI 001838
DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ARP, S/CT, EEB/ESC/TFS
TREASURY FOR U/S LEVEY, A/A O'BRIEN
DHS FOR DHS/ICE, FINANCIAL AND TRADE INVESTIGATIONS,
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/05/2017
TAGS: EFIN ETTC KTFN PTER KCRM PREL AE
SUBJECT: UAE: FOLLOW-UP ACTION REQUEST ON ILLICIT CASH
REF: A. SECSTATE 152088
B. 06 ABU DHABI 3872
C. 06 ABU DHABI 2281
D. 05 ABU DHABI 4592
E. ABU DHABI 1293
Classified By: Ambassador Michele J. Sison for reasons 1.4 (b and d).
1. (C) Summary: Post has worked with the UAEG to have it
focus on the issue of bulk cash smuggling. DHS/ICE has twice
provided training to customs officials and DOJ/OPDAT will be
providing money laundering prosecutorial training this
December (which will have a bulk cash smuggling component).
The USG proposed conducting a joint DHS/ICE - Dubai Customs
cash courier operation in April 2006. This October, the UAE
Central Bank Governor, who serves as the UAE's Chairman for
the Joint Terror Finance Coordinating Committee, informed us
that the UAEG did not wish to participate. (Note: Post still
understands that the Central Bank Governor will be replaced
and will raise this with his successor. End Note.) The UAE
has regulations requiring declarations for cash imports of
over USD 10,800, but no regulations covering cash exports.
2. (C) Post appreciates the opportunity to provide an update
on our efforts to focus the UAEG on addressing the issue of
bulk cash smuggling. DHS/ICE provided training to Dubai
police and customs officials on detecting and investigating
bulk cash smuggling cases in September 2005, and the issue
has been raised at each of the U.S. - UAE Joint Terror
Finance Coordinating Committee (JTFCC) meetings since their
inception in January 2006. In the April 2006 JTFCC meeting,
the U.S. side proposed holding a joint DHS/ICE - Dubai
Customs cash courier operation. UAE Central Bank Governor
Sultan Nasser Al-Suwaidi requested training before moving
forward with any operation. That training was provided in
June 2006 (ref c).
3. (SBU) Al-Suwaidi then requested that post work with the
UAE Central Bank and Customs to provide a "gap analysis" of
the relevant U.S. and UAE regulations. In post's initial
draft of a gap analysis, we determined that the UAE has no
regulations on declaring cash exports, only on cash imports
(ref b). We continued working with the Central Bank and with
other members of the UAEG to address the UAE's stated and
unstated concerns about a joint cash courier operation. Based
on concerns the UAEG stated about having non-UAE nationals
publicly involved in the operation, DHS/ICE revised the
proposal and Ambassador passed it to Al-Suwaidi on August 1,
2007. Al-Suwaidi promised to have the UAE's JTFCC review it.
In October, during his visit to the U.S., Al-Suwaidi told
Treasury U/S for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart
Levey that the UAE did not wish to pursue the proposed
DHS/ICE - Dubai Customs cash courier operation with the USG,
arguing that having U.S. DHS/ICE officials visible in UAE
airports would not be acceptable. He did agree to continue a
two-way discussion about certain at-risk flights and
suggested the December meeting of the UAE's National
Anti-Money Laundering Committee. Post still understands that
the UAEG plans to change the Governor of the Central Bank.
We will raise this issue again with the new governor,
whenever that person comes on board.
4. (C) Specific responses to questions follow (see 05 Abu
Dhabi 4592 and 06 Abu Dhabi 3872 for more details).
(U) Status of Host Nation Laws:
-- UAE Federal Law 4 of 2002 is the relevant law
(SBU) Key Elements of UAE Federal Law 4 (2002) with regard to
bulk cash smuggling):
-- The law permits the import and export of any amount of
currency. It requires, however, that cash and travelers
checks worth 40,000 dirhams (USD 10,800) be declared. There
are no requirements to declare exports of cash or to declare
other bearer negotiable instruments such as bearer bonds, 3rd
party endorsed checks, etc.
-- Although there is a requirement to declare cash imports,
the UAE does not provide customs declaration forms to
airlines, etc (as does the U.S.). While there may be signs
ABU DHABI 00001838 002 OF 002
at some ports of entry laying out these requirements, it is
not clear that they are at all points of entry.
-- Although UAEG officials have the authority to seize
undeclared cash, they do not have an administrative procedure
for asset forfeiture. All cases must be brought to the
courts. UAE officials have requested assistance in training
prosecutors and judges in the understanding the importance of
these cases and in how to make the case.
-- The UAE Central Bank Governor has stated that the UAE
would need to revise its regulations to deal with
declarations on cash exports. As far as we are aware, these
regulations have not yet been amended.
(C) Status of investigations into bulk cash smuggling:
-- The UAE is still largely a cash based society and Emiratis
are used to carrying large amounts of cash. It is not clear
that customs officials always initiate action against
undeclared cash, nor is it clear how aggressively these cases
are investigated or prosecuted. UAE officials have told us
that they have investigated these cases and brought them to
prosecution, but post has no independent access to records to
determine the number of these cases, nor the success rate.
(SBU) Mission Efforts
-- In addition to the efforts briefly described in paras 1-2
above, DOJ/OPDAT will be delivering training on December
10-11 on prosecuting money laundering and financial crimes
cases to prosecutors from the UAE. DHS/ICE will be
delivering a presentation on bulk cash smuggling.
-- Embassy will continue to engage the UAEG and Emirate level
governments on the problem of cash couriers and the need to
develop a plan to address the issue.