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05ABUDHABI4103 2005-09-28 08:53:00 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Abu Dhabi
Cable title:  

OFAC DISCUSSES WMD, TERFIN WITH UAEG, BANKS

Tags:   KTFN PTER EFIN SNAR PK KN IR TC 
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Diana T Fritz  08/28/2006 03:54:13 PM  From  DB/Inbox:  Search Results

Cable 
Text:                                                                      
                                                                           
      
S E C R E T        ABU DHABI 04103

SIPDIS
CXABU:
    ACTION: ECON
    INFO:   POL LEGAT DOJ P/M AMB DCM

DISSEMINATION: ECON
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: AMB:MJSISON
DRAFTED: ECON:AECURTIS
CLEARED: CG:KMORRIS, CG:JBURNS, ECON:OJOHN

VZCZCADI245
RR RUEHC RUEHZM RUEHIL RUEHNE RUEHBI RHEHNSC
RUEATRS
DE RUEHAD #4103/01 2710853
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 280853Z SEP 05
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1764
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1438
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1272
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
					  S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 05 ABU DHABI 004103 

SIPDIS

NOFORN

STATE FOR NEA/ARPI RSMYTH, EB/ESC/TFS FOR JSALOOM
TREASURY FOR WERNER
NSC FOR ZARATE
MANAMA FOR BEAL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/28/2020
TAGS: KTFN, PTER, EFIN, SNAR, PK, KN, IR, TC
SUBJECT: OFAC DISCUSSES WMD, TERFIN WITH UAEG, BANKS

REF: A. DUBAI 4650
B. SECSTATE 13956 (NOTAL)

Classified By: Ambassador Michele J. Sison for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).

1. (S) Summary. The Director of the Department of Treasury's
Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Bob Werner,
discussed OFAC's WMD, counter terrorism, and counter
narcotics sanctions programs with UAEG officials at the
Central Bank, Ministry of Interior, and Dubai Ports
Authority, and with banking officials and exchange house
representatives. UAEG officials pledged their cooperation on
cases of mutual interest, but Central Bank Governor Sultan
Nasser al-Suweidi noted his frustration with the USG over the
frozen assets of A.Q. Khan's daughter, Dina Khan. Commercial
bank compliance officers expressed their desire to be
compliant with the U.S. sanctions program against Iran, but
had many detailed questions about the mechanics of
implementing the sanctions. The UAE's money exchange houses
described their stringent Know-Your-Customer program, and the
discussion at the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA)
highlighted questions about the competing role between the
DFSA and the UAE Central Bank in monitoring banks within the
free zone for anti-money laundering compliance. End summary.

2. (C) The Director of the Department of Treasury's Office of
Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Bob Werner, traveled to the
UAE September 17-19 to discuss OFAC's sanctions programs with
the UAEG and industry officials. Werner was accompanied by
Jamal El-Hindi, Associate Director of OFAC; Howard
Mendelsohn, Middle East Unit Chief, Office of Intelligence
and Analysis; Clay Stevenson, International Programs Officer;
Jason Beal, OFAC Middle East Regional Attache; and Reece
Smyth, NEA/ARPI Economic Officer. Werner and his delegation
met with Central Bank Governor Sultan Nasser al-Suweidi,
Minister of Interior (MOI) Undersecretary Major General Saif
Abdullah al Shaafar, General Manager of the Abu Dhabi
Investment Authority (ADIA) Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed, and
Technical Director of Dubai Port Authority Mohammed Muallam.
The delegation also held separate roundtable discussions with
bank compliance officers, representatives of the UAE Exchange
Houses, officials from the Dubai Financial Services Authority
(DFSA), the Executive Board of the Dubai American Business
Council, and with the U.S., British, and Australian Drug
Liaison Officers (DLOs). (Note: The meeting with ADIA
General Manager Ahmed bin Zayed will be reported septel. See
ref A for a readout of Iran issues from the DLO roundtable.
End note.)

UAEG Pledges Cooperation, Needs More Information on Cases


--------------------------



--------------------------



3. (C) During his meetings with Central Bank Governor
al-Suweidi and Ministry of Interior Undersecretary
al-Shaafar, Werner raised a number of outstanding cases,
including the ABN Amro investigation, narco-traffickers Haji
Bashir Noorzai and Iqbal Mirchi, the wedding of Dawood
Ibrahim's daughter at the Grand Hyatt in Dubai, and the
continuing use of Sharjah by UN-designated arms proliferator
Viktor Bout's smuggling network. Both the Central Bank
Governor and MOI Undersecretary pledged their cooperation on
these matters and requested additional information and
details on each of the issues. Werner passed Al-Shaafar the
list of hotels used by Iqbal Mirchi, and Al-Shaafar said he
would look into the matter. To aid the UAE's efforts to
investigate and shut down Viktor Bout's network, Werner
offered to send the analyst most familiar with Viktor Bout to
the UAE to go over detailed information with Central Bank and
Ministry of Interior officials. Al-Shaafar also noted that
he is interested in sending Abu Dhabi police officers to the
U.S. for seminars and training to help increase their
understanding of our system and to build personal
relationships with their American counterparts. He would
like to send some officers in November or December, after
Ramadan, but had not identified any specific program.
Undersecretary al-Shaafar stressed that the UAE must ensure
that its businesses and financial system are not abused --
"the UAE cannot be a soil where bad seeds are allowed to
grow" -- and he stated that his department would continue to
work with the U.S. and share information with us.

4. (S) The Central Bank Governor noted that the UAE is very
near "countries of concern," and that it has been able to
maintain its security by not "harming anyone and by
understanding their needs." The Governor stated, "Please do
not involve us in the 'name and shame' of certain countries,
because it would make our life very difficult. We know that
you mean good, so we will help as we can, but hopefully it
will be in other ways that will not harm us." Stating that
the UAE must coexist with its neighbors, he emphasized that
the UAE must avoid engaging in conduct that could be viewed
as a "declaration of war." (Comment: The Governor did not
state which countries he was referring to, but he likely
meant Iran and Saudi Arabia, and possibly North Korea. End
comment.)

Need to Justify Freeze of WMD Proliferators' Assets


--------------------------



--------------------------



5. (S) Werner discussed in detail three of OFAC's sanctions
programs -- the Counter Terrorism Executive Order, the
Counternarcotics Kingpin Program, and the new Executive Order
13382 on blocking property of WMD proliferators and their
supporters -- with both the Central Bank Governor and
Ministry of Interior Undersecretary. During a discussion of
E.O. 13382, the Central Bank Governor noted his concern that
the U.S. designates "too quickly", without always ensuring
that the individuals or entities are complicit in the
activities. He stated, "no one wants the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction, but also, no innocent people
should be defined as perpetrators of proliferation
activities...Giving the wrong medicine for a disease does not
help cure the disease." He pointed out that due diligence is
essential to be sure that a mistake is not made. Ambassador
assured the Governor that the USG conducted due diligence.
The Governor responded positively to this, noting "the reason
I ask is so that we can support and defend these efforts.
That way, if we are asked how it works, we will know how to
answer."

6. (S/NF) The Central Bank's experience with accounts
connected to the A.Q. Khan network has clearly colored how
the UAE perceives the U.S. actions against WMD proliferators.
Al-Suweidi quoted an Arabic saying that is roughly
translated, "if you want to be obeyed, ask for the
achievable" as a way to illustrate his concerns with certain
U.S. requests for asset freezes. The Governor also raised
the example of the frozen bank account of A.Q. Khan's
daughter, Dina Khan. In response to a U.S. request, the UAE
froze Dina Khan's UAE bank account in the spring of 2004.
The account remains frozen; however the UAE Central Bank has
been told by the Dubai Attorney General that there is not
enough evidence to justify continuing the freeze. Dina Khan
has hired a British lawyer and is threatening to sue the UAE
Central Bank in the UK for "physical and emotional" damages.
Through her attorney, she submitted an affidavit to the
Central Bank claiming that the money was an inheritance from
her grandmother, and that it had nothing to do with her
father's activities (although Central Bank officials noted
that she did not provide any corroborating documentation,
such as bank records, to prove this). The affidavit also
notes that she is not under a travel ban in any country and
that she has no other accounts frozen -- including those in
the UK. The affidavit further states that she owns property
in Pakistan that is leased by the USG, and she claims that if
she were connected to her father's network, the USG would not
be leasing her property. (Note: At Embassy Abu Dhabi's
request, Embassy Islamabad has checked its 157 property
leases held for Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, and Karachi.
None of them lists Dina Khan as the property owner. Of the
157 leases checked, 13 show someone with the surname "Khan"
as the owner of the property; but that is a common surname in
Pakistan, and none of those 13 owners have given names that
track with any of Dina Khan's immediate family members.
There is the possibility that Dina Khan may be owner of an
Embassy-leased property and had an agent or lawyer sign the
lease on her behalf, but Embassy Islamabad has no knowledge
of that being the case. Embassy Abu Dhabi will advise the
Central Bank of this at the earliest opportunity. End note.)


7. (S/NF) The Central Bank is very concerned that it does not
have legal "cover" on the Dina Khan case and that it may be
sued. In the fall of 2004, the Central Bank Governor asked
U/S Juan Zarate for the USG to provide it with a letter of
"indemnification" that would provide the bank with some
cover; however, Zarate noted that this would not be possible.
During the meeting with OFAC Director Werner, the Central
Bank Governor said, "I personally recommend that Dina Khan be
eliminated from the list because there is not enough evidence
to justify continuing the freeze...In absence of a green
light to unfreeze the account, we would demand indemnity."
Werner responded that he did not believe indemnity was
possible. Werner also noted that the U.S. believes that
UNSCR 1540 provides the UAE with the authority to freeze
accounts of suspected proliferators. The Governor responded
that he would like for the U.S. to provide a legal opinion of
exactly how 1540 is relevant in this case. (Note: Embassy
has drawn from points provided Ref B several times in the
past few months to try to convince the Governor that UNSCR
1540 indeed provides such authority.)

8. (S) The Central Bank Governor also briefly mentioned the
case of North Korean Tanchon Commercial Bank, which is one of
the eight entities designated by Executive Order 13382 in
June 2005 to counter proliferators of weapons of mass
destruction. Back in 2004, the UAE Central Bank froze
Tanchon's UAE accounts, also as a part of the A.Q. Khan
investigation. These accounts remain frozen, and Tanchon has
also threatened to sue the UAEG. In July, when the Embassy
provided the Central Bank with the annex to E.O. 13382 that
lists the eight designated entities, Central Bank officials
recognized Tanchon Commercial Bank, but they did not comment
on whether this E.O. would help give them any additional
legal or political cover should the bank actually sue.

Exchange Houses Discuss KYC Procedures


--------------------------



9. (C) In the spring of 2005, the UAE's 110 licensed money
exchange houses formed a Steering Committee to work with the
UAE Central Bank and international financial institutions in
order to address some international banks' concerns that
exchange houses (or money service businesses - MSBs) are not
regulated as stringently as other financial institutions.
Werner and his delegation met representatives from ten of the
exchange houses on the Steering Committee, and they discussed
the stringent Know-Your-Customer (KYC) guidelines that UAE
MSBs adhere to. MSBs examine and copy identification for all
transactions over 2,000 dirhams (approximately $546); they
record identifying information of the remitter and the
beneficiary; they check to be sure that the remittance is
consistent with the person's means; and they keep the ID and
transaction records for a minimum of five years. Most of the
large exchange houses issue an ID card to repeat customers.
This card contains each customer's identifying information,
and it allows the exchange house to keep track of all of the
customer's transactions. Additionally, exchange house
officials make site visits to the companies of commercial
customers to ensure that they are engaged in the business
they claimed when they make their transactions. Attesting to
the exchange houses' due diligence, Ray Ferguson, Chief
Executive of Standard and Chartered, stated during the bank
compliance officer roundtable that he has been "blown away"
by the due diligence of the UAE's exchange houses, even on
small transactions -- "I think they would not be in business
today if they hadn't been so diligent in implementing the
UAE's anti-money laundering regulations."

10. (C) Essentially, the UAE's MSBs are regulated the same as
banks, and in addition to the Central Bank's yearly AML/CFT
compliance and security and soundness audits, MSBs have a
yearly external money laundering audit. Each exchange house
has at least one compliance officer, they all attend KYC and
anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terror finance (CTF)
training programs, and they use the OFAC list in addition to
the Central Bank's list of designated individuals and
organizations. After outlining the details of the MSB KYC
regime, Mohammed al-Ansari of Al-Ansari Exchange, noted "I do
not believe it is fair to put all exchange houses in the same
category of "high risk" - as many banking institutions are
prone to do," and he noted that the Steering Committee hopes
that the FATF will recommend to categorize MSBs as low,
medium, or high risk, based on each country's MSB oversight
and regulation and on each institution's KYC policies.
Acknowledging that some of the small UAE exchange houses may
not have the capabilities to be as thorough and as diligent
as those large exchange houses represented at the roundtable,
Akbar Dadarkar of the Wall Street Exchange Center, noted that
the Central Bank does not license the smaller exchange houses
to transfer money overseas -- they are only licensed to
exchange currency -- "90 percent of the money exchange
business, ie: transfers, are conducted by the 10-15 large
exchange houses represented here."

11. (C) Several of the MSB representatives noted their
concern about people making multiple transactions at multiple
exchange houses to conceal the total amount. They said they
are encouraging the Central Bank to create a central database
that would detect this type of activity. They also noted
that to aid checking names against the Central Bank and OFAC
lists, it would be helpful if the names were listed in the
native language. For example, in addition to listing a
transliterated Arabic name in English, also list the name in
Arabic. They also indicated interest in U.S. AML/CTF
training materials, and Werner encouraged them to download
such material from FINCEN's website.

DFSA - Question of Regulatory Overlap Remains


--------------------------



12. (C) The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA)
regulates the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC),
Dubai's offshore banking center, and DFSA officials maintain
that their regulatory system holds banking institutions to an
international standard. DFSA's officials come from
internationally recognized regulatory bodies; though
ostensibly independent they ultimately report to Dubai Crown
Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed. Werner's meeting with DFSA
officials focused in part on gaps and overlaps in regulation
with the UAE Central Bank. The federal law allowing the
creation of financial free zones within the UAE "disapplied"
all federal commercial and civil law, but criminal laws still
apply. In this regard, financial institutions within the
DIFC, like those elsewhere in the UAE, are required to abide
by the Central Bank's AML/CTF regulations. However, the DFSA
requires DIFC institutions to abide by a more stringent
"parallel" set of AML/CTF requirements, which incorporate all
of the Central Bank regulations and then expand upon them in
many areas.

13. (C) The legal relationship between the DFSA and the UAE
Central Bank has not been codified yet -- the two bodies are
in the process of negotiating an MOU. Marc Hambach, the
Assistant Director of DFSA's Banking Supervision Department,
noted that the DFSA is required to refer all suspected
AML/CTF cases to the Central Bank on AML/CTF cases, and that
if DFSA officials feel the Central Bank's response is slow or
inadequate, the DFSA has the authority to independently
freeze assets. Jane Coakley, the Managing Director of the
Authorization Department inquired as to whether OFAC could
vet or share intelligence with DFSA on individuals or
entities seeking to open accounts or operate within the DIFC.
Werner replied that these types of inquiries should be
channeled through formal FIU channels (ie: from the UAE's
Anti-Money Laundering and Suspicious Cases Unit (AMLSCU) to
FINCEN). Noting that communication from the UAE Central Bank
to DFSA is sometimes slow, DFSA officials indicated they
would appreciate it if the U.S. could "cc" the DFSA when it
sends information to the AMLSCU that relates to institutions
within the DIFC. (Comment: The discussion with DFSA
highlights the stresses between two regulatory bodies in the
UAE. DFSA regulators have consistently stressed the high
quality of their regulation, whereas the Central Bank has
expressed concerns about the need for it to monitor the DIFC,
since any problems would reflect back on the UAE. The
current dispute over jurisdiction is creating potential
loopholes and overlapping jurisdiction that could cause
problems for the DIFC and the UAE in general. Early concerns
over governance and the very public firing of the former head
of the DFSA increases the pressure on both the DFSA and the
Central Bank to "get it right." End Comment.)

"Cash is King"


--------------------------



14. (C) In the roundtable discussion with U.S., British, and
Australian Drug Liaison Officers (DLOs), the DLOs noted that
investigating money-laundering cases in the UAE is
challenging due to the cash-based nature of the society. As
British DLO Cameron Walker noted, "with so many cash
transactions here, how do you see the wood through the
trees?" The DLOs also expressed frustration with getting the
Central Bank to share information with foreign law
enforcement officials like themselves. Werner suggested
going through FINCEN, since FINCEN and the AMLSCU have a
close working relationship. Additionally, Werner pointed out
that OFAC does not need a U.S. link to designate individuals
or entities under the narcotics Kingpin program, and he
encouraged them to work with OFAC and use this tool to aid
their efforts to shut down the networks of narco-traffickers.


Iran Sanctions Affect Dubai Banks, American Businessmen


--------------------------



--------------------------



15. (C) During a roundtable discussion with 13 compliance
officers from major UAE banks and a dinner with the American
Business Council's Executive Board, Werner discussed OFAC's
role in implementing U.S. sanctions programs. Participants
asked many targeted questions about Iranian sanctions, and
several of the U.S. businessmen expressed frustration with
the sanctions limiting their ability to do business in the
region. With Dubai serving as Iran's largest non-oil trading
partner, the bankers wanted to know details of OFAC
requirements to ensure that they stay compliant.

Dubai Ports - Exercises Reactive Due Diligence


--------------------------

-

16. (C) During a meeting with Mohammed Muallam, Technical
Director of Dubai Port Authority in the Jebel Ali Free Trade
Zone, Muallam emphasized that Dubai Port Authorities work
closely with Dubai Police and the State Security Organization
(SSO) to be sure that "what flows through our ports is only
cargo." With 50 percent of the ports' 3.6 million containers
being trans-shipped to other locations each year, Muallam
said that Dubai Port authorities recognize that they must be
diligent in monitoring the cargo for illegal or dual-use
items. He noted that his officials cooperate closely with
other UAEG agencies, and that they detain cargo when the SSO
provides information on suspect shipments. (Note: Dubai
Ports Authority is a part of the Container Security
Initiative (CSI), which is aimed at preventing terrorist
organizations from utilizing shipping containers to transport
WMD and/or related components from Dubai ports to the United
States. CSI became operational in March 2005, with the
arrival of three U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers
and one ICE Special Agent. The CSI team reviews bills of
lading and regularly refers shipping containers for
examination prior to departure for the United States. End
note.)

17. (U) This cable was cleared by OFAC Director Werner.
SISON