‘There are two ends to the problem one is where the dirty money is created and the other is where it is moved to,’ Central Bank of the UAE governor Sultan bin Nasser al-Suwaidi told MEED in early July at a joint UAE/UK seminar on money laundering. ‘You need the co-operation of the two sides.’

According to Al-Suwaidi, a significant amount of criminal finance is laundered through the UAE from the UK and is mainly associated with narcotics trafficking. ‘It’s drug money from rich countries, including Western European nations and particularly the UK,’ Al-Suwaidi said. ‘Because of the strong economic relationship, the UK is special. If you have a big window, everything comes through it.’

The UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) estimates that 98 per cent of heroin sold illegally in the UK originates in Afghanistan. ‘The UAE is a victim and part of the solution,’ said SOCA executive director Paul Evans. ‘For the last 10 years, we’ve had very good co-operation with the police and central bank.’