UAE imposes sanctions on Kinahan cartel as well as freezing assets

Organised crime group is now under new US-style sanctions in Gulf state

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has frozen assets of the Kinahan cartel and imposed sanctions on the organised crime group similar to those announced by the US last week.

A number of Irish justice and security sources said they expected the move would prompt the Kinahans to leave the UAE for the Far East in an attempt to escape the reach of western law enforcement agencies.

While it emerged yesterday that the personal and business bank accounts of the cartel leaders based in Dubai had been frozen, The Irish Times has learned that the UAE government action goes much further.

Their sanctions mirror those imposed by the US treasury department on cartel founder Christy Kinahan snr, his sons Daniel and Christopher jnr and four of their associates. Rewards of up to $5 million were offered by the Americans for information leading to the conviction of the Kinahans.

The three Kinahans and their Dubai-based associates are now banned from doing business there and people in the UAE are prohibited from having business dealings with the men.

Sources said the move came as a surprise as the authorities in the UAE had not co-operated with Garda efforts to target the Kinahans in recent years. However, the public nature of the US intervention put pressure on the UAE to take action.

UAE statement

In a statement to The Irish Times, the UAE government said it “takes allegations of criminal activity extremely seriously” and was working with international partners in “combating illicit activity”.

"In the case of the Kinahan organised crime group, the UAE has been working proactively on its own investigations, and as a result of this all relevant assets have been frozen," it said. "The UAE will continue to pursue its own investigations, and work in close collaboration with relevant authorities in the US, UK, Ireland and Spain on this case."

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the news was “very welcome” and that he was “confident about the capacity of likeminded countries to work together to put pressure on such criminal gangs”.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the “net is now clearly tightening on the Kinahan organised crime group”. She praised the Garda’s “tireless work in building an international law enforcement coalition to dismantle the gang” .

In reply to queries, Garda headquarters said the announcement of the US sanctions last week had “generated additional avenues to pursue and give us confidence we will achieve our objectives” of stopping the organised crime group.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times