Irish man sanctioned by US authorities for allegedly facilitating movement of Russian money

Cash-for-visa adviser accused of assisting Russians to move funds into UAE following invasion of Ukraine

John Desmond Hanafin (48), founder and chief executive of Huriya Private, has been sanctioned by US authorities
John Desmond Hanafin (48), founder and chief executive of Huriya Private, has been sanctioned by US authorities

An Irish man who runs a cash-for-visa advisory firm in Dubai is among a number of further individuals and companies sanctioned by the US treasury department, over alleged financial activities linked to Russia.

John Desmond Hanafin (48), founder and chief executive of Huriya Private, has been sanctioned by US authorities for allegedly facilitating the movement of “Russian money” to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine last February, the European Union, United States and Britain have all introduced a range of sanctions against a host of individuals and companies linked to Russia.

In a statement announcing further sanctions on Friday, the US treasury department claimed Mr Hanafin had “facilitated the movement of Russian money into the UAE” through his company Huriya.


The department alleged the Irish man had “procured fraudulent passports for Russian clients wanting to hide their Russian nationality”.

Mr Hanafin and Huriya had been sanctioned for operating in the Russian financial services sector, it said.

The treasury department claimed following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Huriya “began working quickly to move Russian assets into structures protecting them from sanctions”.

“Huriya also helped high-net-worth Russian Federation nationals procure non-Russian passports under assumed names to avoid financial scrutiny and sanctions,” it stated.

Companies based in Cyprus and Hong Kong were also sanctioned due to their links to Mr Hanafin, it said.

Irish company records show Mr Hanafin previously had an address in Raheny, Dublin 5, in the 1990s.

Mr Hanafin, who has been based in the Middle East for more than a decade, describes himself as a “expert in citizenship by investment” on his LinkedIn profile.

Huriya specialises in cash-for-visa schemes, where wealthy individuals can secure visas or residency in a country in exchange for investing their funds there, or donating to charities based there.

Huriya advises that it can assist wealthy individuals in applying for visa or residency investment schemes in countries such as Malta, Greece, Turkey, Canada, Cyprus, as well as Ireland.

The Irish immigrant investor scheme was abruptly shut down by the Government earlier this year, over concerns about a surge in applicants from China.

Huriya’s website describes Mr Hanafin as having an “extensive background” in catering to the “needs of high net worth investors around the world”.

The company states it helps to “protect, maintain and enhance” individuals’ private wealth.

“We provide them with the freedom to travel visa free, and to access and repatriate their wealth, in the most commercial, tax efficient and cost-effective manner possible,” it states.

In recent years Mr Hanafin also set up Huriya Private Foundation in the UK, which has an address in London, company house records show.

Both Mr Hanafin and Huriya have been contacted for comment on the US sanctions.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times