Financial and legal sources told Reuters that wealthy Russians were trying to divert their wealth from Europe to Dubai in an effort to protect their assets from tightening Western sanctions on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Dubai, the financial and business center of the Persian Gulf, has long been a magnet for the world’s richest, and the refusal of the United Arab Emirates to take a stand on the dispute between the Western allies and Moscow has signaled to the Russians that their money is safe. According to the agency quoted by AgentPress.
In many cases, wealthy Russians are now trying to divert funds from Switzerland or London to Dubai, which has imposed restrictions on Russian oligarchs and organizations, a senior banker told a large private bank in Switzerland. The lawyer, who currently works in Dubai, said his bank had received questions from several Russian companies about how quickly it could move hundreds of millions of dollars worth of “huge funds” to the state.
“The UAE has a favorable environment, the plane is only a few hours away and there is no controller to work with Western controllers,” said one investment manager.
The banker, who was consulted by Reuters, said that in some cases Russian customers who had accounts in a Swiss private bank had begun to open accounts at the same bank’s UAE branches. Others have opened accounts at local Emirates banks.
Another source of funding said that in the face of a declining domestic economy, wealthy Russians are seeking to invest their money in non-disclosure funds such as real estate and homeowners’ information.
Dubai, a major global tourist destination, has long been popular among Russians, and was one of the most important buyers of real estate in the emirate before the war in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed by the West, and the collapse of the ruble affected the Russian economy.
In 2018, the United Arab Emirates introduced a proxy for “Golden” visas, which allows investors to obtain the right to reside for 10 years.
Evidence suggests that the withdrawal of the United Arab Emirates in a UN Security Council vote condemning the invasion of Ukraine and the retention of sovereign wealth funds in the Gulf with Russia were evidence of the goodwill of rich Russians.
There are currently no indications that the transfer of Russian assets to Dubai is subject to Western sanctions. However, bankers say that at a time when multinational corporations around the world are severing ties with Moscow, there is a risk that the image of Russian financial institutions could be tarnished.
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