Saudi Arabia underlines illegality of cryptocurrency trading in official reminder

Saudi Arabian regulators have released an official statement unequivocally stating the government's position on cryptocurrency trading and declaring its use as illegal in the country. The statement came in the wake of multiple claims by websites purporting to be authorised to operate in the KSA and strengthens the Saudi government committee tasked with enforcing the ban.

The committee is headed by the Capital Market Authority and draws membership from representatives of key governmental departments such as the Interior Ministry, Information Ministry, the Trade and Investment Ministry, and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency ("SAMA").

To date no single party or individual has been granted a licence to offer cryptocurrency trading services in the Saudi market due to fears surrounding its unregulated, volatile nature; a sentiment shared by Egypt's Grand Mufti who has also endorsed a ban on all cryptocurrency trading on the grounds that it is anti-Islamic and fraudulent. The above notwithstanding, whilst the Saudi government is clear on its position on crypto trading, its support of Ripple ("XRP")'s technology in money transfer has proven that the Kingdom is not opposed to the development and use of the underlying blockchain technology.

Founder of private equity group faces criminal investigation after allegedly issuing a $217 million cheque with insufficient funds

The founder of Dubai-based Abraaj (a private equity group currently undergoing corporate restructuring) is in the midst of a criminal case in the United Arab Emirates for allegedly issuing a $217 million cheque with insufficient funds. Failing to honour a debt is a criminal offence in the United Arab Emirates and carries with it a potential prison sentence. The cheque in contention related to a $300 million loan issued by a prominent businessman to Abraaj. The matter is scheduled to be heard by a Sharjah Court in August 2018.

Ten men accused of stealing Dhs6 million from Abu Dhabi Bank

Ten men have been accused of stealing Dhs6 million ($1.6 Million) from an Abu Dhabi bank after deciphering bank codes and infiltrating the bank's programming. Official court documents allege the individuals, including a bank employee, used "e-trader" devices to make it appear as if the bank had paid off store purchases with money deducted from customer accounts when, in fact, the cash was being transferred to a bank account in an Asian country. Prosecutors have now charged the collective with fraud and unlawful transfer of the bank's funds via use of information technology.

Authorities have since voiced an interest in seeing the punishment for those convicted of commercial fraud increased from three years in prison to seven years in certain cases, and for convicts to be compelled by the court to pay back the stolen cash, in addition to paying civil compensation to the victims, given the significant increase in the number of financial and commercial fraud cases being reported in Abu Dhabi.