Spectacular skyscrapers, luxury lifestyles, and sunny beaches — these are the hallmarks of Dubai, a Middle Eastern financial hub known as a playground for the global rich.
But the glamorous emirate also has a darker reputation as a tax haven, a top destination for illicit cash, and a preferred hub for money laundering, often through real estate.
Now, a new leak of Dubai property data has exposed just how many foreigners have poured their money into apartments and villas there.
The data, which dates from 2020, was obtained by the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., that researches international crime and conflict. It was then shared with Norwegian financial outlet E24, which coordinated an investigation into the real estate.
The leak provides the first detailed public overview of those who bought property in this important Middle Eastern financial center. In this initial phase of the project, reporters focused on the European names on the list.
Many of them are residents or legitimate investors. But reporters identified numerous owners of Dubai real estate who have been accused or convicted of crimes or are under international sanctions. Others are public officials whose ownership of pricey properties is difficult to square with their known incomes.
They include more than 100 members of Russia’s political elite, public officials, or businesspeople close to the Kremlin, as well as dozens of Europeans implicated in money laundering and corruption. Several European officials and lawmakers who have been accused of mishandling public funds are also among the listed owners — and some have failed to officially declare their Dubai properties.
Read more at www.occrp.org
Photo: www.occrp.org, Delphotos / Alamy Stock Photo