By Kevin Sun
Everything’s bigger in Dubai. Home to the world’s tallest building since 2010, the emirate’s real estate industry could also be one of the world’s largest money laundromats.
Transparency International, the anti-corruption group behind the annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), has now joined the chorus of voices decrying the city-state’s weak regulations and lax enforcement, according to Forbes.
With the release of its latest CPI results, Transparency International singled out Dubai for special attention in its summary for the Middle East region, citing investigations from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and the Washington-based Center for Advanced Defense Studies.
“Dubai has become a money laundering paradise, where the corrupt and other criminals can go to buy luxurious property with no restrictions,” said the report.
The United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is the largest city and second-largest state, was ranked as the “least corrupt” country in the Middle East and Northern Africa, mainly because of efficient public administration and a high level of human development. Other countries in the region, like war-torn Syria, Yemen and Libya, were at the bottom of the worldwide CPI rankings.
Of course, Dubai is far from the only global city where real estate has become a conduit for dirty money. Malaysia’s infamous 1MDB scandalinvolved a number of NYC properties, and efforts to improve transparency in the U.S. have been stymied by political infighting.
Transparency International also notes that the CPI does not really measure money laundering. Denmark, the “least corrupt” country in this year’s rankings, has been rocked by a scandal involving its largest lender, Danske Bank, which is accused of knowingly allowed the laundering of hundreds of billions of dollars through a branch in Estonia.