DUBAI: The former US lawyer of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been convicted of money-laundering and fined but had a jail sentence overturned by a court in the UAE.
Asim Ghafoor was convicted of “money-laundering crimes linked to a US-based tax evasion operation”, the official WAM news agency said late on Wednesday.
The Abu Dhabi Money Laundering and Tax Evasion Court rescinded a three-year jail term but raised a fine against Ghafoor to five million dirhams ($1.4 million) and ordered his deportation.
Ghafoor received the prison term and a three-million dirham fine following his arrest last month, reportedly as he was transiting Dubai airport.
Khashoggi, Ghafoor's former client and associate, was murdered by Saudi agents in Istanbul in 2018, an incident that triggered a diplomatic backlash.
The case in the United Arab Emirates follows an “assistance request” from US officials investigating Ghafoor’s “involvement in tax evasion and suspicious money transfers”, WAM said.
“It was found that there was a money-laundering crime that occurred in the country, by the accused making international money transfers without proving their source,“ it added.
The US embassy in Abu Dhabi did not respond to a request for comment.
In July, after the initial sentencing, the US State Department denied requesting Ghafoor's arrest and said the case did not appear to be connected to his ties with Khashoggi.
Ghafoor, who attended Wednesday's hearing, runs a private law firm and is a board member of Democracy for the Arab World Now, a rights group founded by Khashoggi that called for his release in July.
He has defended businesspeople, charity leaders and institutions against allegations of involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States, according to DAWN's website.
The case follows a crackdown on money-laundering after the UAE was added to a “grey list” of countries under heightened monitoring by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force in March. - AFP