By Neil Halligan
Gang of 44 attempt to steal money using bank employee who transferred large sums of money to five companies in five different banks
Two crime investigating authorities in Abu Dhabi combined to foil a plot to steal over $170 million from an account held in one of the banks operating in the UAE,.
The Public Funds Prosecution in Abu Dhabi, an agency set up to prosecute financial crimes, and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) used information technology tools foil the attempted multi-million dollar theft.
The two authorities co-ordinated with the UAE Central Bank for 24 hours to recover the $173 million (AED635m).
A total of 38 individuals of Asians and Europeans were arrested as a result of the operation, with a further six suspects still at large.
The crime came to light when the bank reported an unusual withdrawal from one of an account at the Central Bank. The Public Funds Prosecution subsequently ordered to freeze the money that was illegally withdrawn.
The investigations concluded that one of the employees logged into the bank’s electronic system using the password of another employee, which was given to them, and it was used to transfer different amounts of money, totalling AED635 million, to the accounts of five companies in five different banks.
The execution of the operation to steal the money started through an order to transfer the money during the morning when the electronic system was opened. The movements were detected after a warning about the lack of required credit in the affected bank account. Due to the early time of the transfer, the process restarted after the flow of money into the account began.
By tracking the transferred amounts of money, it became obvious to the authorities that these amounts were transferred to several branch companies of five major companies, whose headquarters are scattered across different emirates of the country.
The investigations discovered the presence of a gang that attempted to connect bank employees with these major companies, and connected the major companies with other branches in exchange for a percentage of the amount for each party.
The Public Funds Prosecution issued a directive to seize and freeze the money in the accounts they were transferred into, in addition to issuing an order to seize 6,000 mobile phones whose value reached around AED10 million ($2.7m), purchased with the stolen money.
Counsellor Ali Mohammed Al Baloushi, Attorney-General of Abu Dhabi, praised the quick response of the authorities in preventing the crime.
Al Baloushi said the accused individuals are facing charges under the Federal Penal Code No. 7 for the year 2016, and the Federal Executive Order No. 5 for the year 2012 regarding electronic crimes.
He said, according to the latest amendments to the penal code, the bank’s money is considered public fund once the federal or local government contributes to its capital completely or partially.