How to Prosecute the Worst Financial Crime Cases in the UAE?

criminal law


August 14, 2021



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Financial crimes can be best understood as criminal activities carried out by an individual or group of people or organizations which seek to achieve economic benefits through illegal methods.

The United Arab Emirates recognizes and punishes various types of financial crimes such as:

  • Fraud

  • Breach of trust

  • Bribery

  • Money Laundering


Pursuant to Article 451of the Federal Decree-Law No. 31 of 2021 On the Issuance of the Crimes and Penalties Law (UAE Penal Code), fraud is defined as ‘Any person who unlawfully appropriates for himself or another person movable property, or who obtains a benefit or document or a signature on the said document, or a revocation or alteration of the document, by seeking fraudulent method or by false pretence or capacity so as to deceive the victim and induce him to surrender such document’. Fraud under UAE law is punishable by a sentence of up to three years imprisonment or a fine.

Breach of Trust

Breach of trust constitutes a financial crime in the UAE, and article 453 of the UAE Penal code criminalizes ‘breach of trust’ and states that: ‘Any person who embezzles, uses or disperses money, documents, or any other movable property, to inflict damage to their rightful owners and when they are delivered to such person on the basis of a deposit, lease, mortgage, loan for consumption, or agency, shall be liable to a jail sentence or a fine. In applying this provision, the co-owner in common property, the officious intermeddler managing the property of the concerned person, and the person who receives an asset to be used for a specific purpose to the benefit of its owner or another, shall be deemed as the agent.’. The movable property would include cash, bills, cheques or it’s like. Under the provisions of breach of trust, the person entrusted with the said property would be considered as joint owner of the immovable property, and the innocent employer or business partner can file a criminal complaint seeking justice for the breach. The punishment for breach of trust may include a fine or imprisonment of up to 3 years.


A bribe is defined under the UAE laws as anything given for the benefit of a public or private-sector employee with the intention to gain in return from the employee any act that violates the duties assigned to such employee or causes him to exceed his duties or act in direct breach of his duties. Bribery is punished under the UAE penal code subject to the provisions of articles 275 to 287of the Penal Code. If a bribe is accepted by a public official in return for completing any act which is part of public duty or for abstention from completion of any act in breach of his duties, can result in a punishment of imprisonment.

Money Laundering

Federal Decree-law No. (20) of 2018 on ‘On Combating Money Laundering Crimes, the Financing of Terrorism and the Financing of Unlawful Organisations, (‘AML law').

Article 2 of the AML law thus defines a perpetrator of a money-laundering offence as any person who is aware that the money is derived from either a felony or misdemeanour and then knowingly proceeds to commit the acts of i)transferring or moving proceeds or conducting any transaction to conceal or disguise their illegal source; ii) concealing or disguising the true nature, source or location of the proceeds as well as the method involving their disposition, movement, ownership of or rights concerning said proceeds; iii) acquiring, possessing or using proceeds upon receipt; iv) assisting the perpetrator of the predicate offence to escape punishment.

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