US sanctions send ‘very strong message’ to UAE about Kinahans - Minister

People working with gang in Dubai ‘need to think twice’, says Byrne

People associating with the Kinahan crime gang in their Dubai base "need to think twice" about working with them in a light of the new US sanctions, a Government Minister has said.

Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne said the sanctions announced against the Kinahans, their fellow gang members and three of their companies this week send a "very strong message" to Dubai that "there are people there that you do not want to have in your country".

Speaking on the fringes of a Dublin gathering of Irish diplomats from around the world, Mr Byrne told reporters Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney was in contact with his counterparts in the United Arab Emirates on an ongoing basis about the Kinahan crime gang.

“I am glad this has now reached the highest levels internationally at this point in terms of profile and in terms of the consequences, and people who are working with them at this point really need to think twice. This is a very dangerous set-up,” said Mr Byrne.

The Fianna Fáil minister urged people associating with the Kinahans through their ties with boxing to sever links with the gang, pointing to the "huge risks" associated with them.

“People see boxing careers ahead of them. There are other ways to get a boxing career,” he said.

Under the sanctions imposed on drug cartel leaders Christy Kinahan and his Dubai-based sons Daniel and Christopher jnr, along with four other gang associates and two sports companies based in the Emirate, any assets or properties in the US or money held in US banks can be frozen.

The US government identified the drug trafficking gang as a "significant transnational criminal organisation" spanning Ireland, the UK, Spain and the UAE. The crime group "frequently uses Dubai as a facilitation hub for its illicit activities," the US Department of the Treasury said.

EU Commissioner Maireád McGuinness said there was "a political push" at the European Parliament to give more responsibility around sanctions to a proposed EU agency being set up to crack down on money laundering "because dirty money doesn't respect borders".

“We need to tackle it, not just for the money part, which is horrific that we have dirty money in the system, but the attack on communities, on people, on families that is represented by the Kinahan gang and what they have been up to,” said Ms McGuinness.

The commissioner, who oversees financial services at the EU’s executive arm, said she presumed law enforcement would look at the gang’s use of countries “where there is circumvention” around the sanctions.

“I want a financial system that is devoid of dirty money and that’s not the case at the moment so we have a lot of work to do on that,” she told reporters at the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Global Ireland Summit at Dublin Castle.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent

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