28 October 2019 22:36
Anna Waterhouse was a high-flying lawyer at Deutsche Bank in Dubai. Amjad Rihan was a partner at the accountancy giant EY's Dubai office. They both say their lives were destroyed after they flagged up suspicious activity at a major gold refiner in Dubai - Kaloti. Anna and Amjad didn't know it at the time but had stumbled upon evidence of an organised crime group using gold sales to Kaloti to launder British drug cash. His team found Kaloti had weak checks on its suppliers - and was handing out extraordinary amounts of physical cash for gold.
"Kaloti has done more than $5.2bn (£4bn) in cash in one year. Money-laundering 101 tells you not to use cash. Cash increases the risk of money-laundering." A few miles away, Anna, Deutsche Bank's general counsel and head of compliance in Dubai, was getting suspicious about Kaloti's cash too. Panorama has seen a transcript of a Dubai court case in which she says "never before had I seen such a catalogue of suspicious circumstances". She told Panorama: "A colleague came into my office and described a call from a local bank in Dubai.
"The guys at the bank had noticed that Kaloti had been withdrawing very large amounts of money, so large that they had to remove this physical cash in wheelbarrows. Image caption The case involved the withdrawal of large amounts of cash "They said: 'We can see that quite a lot of this money is being funded by a Deutsche Bank account.'" BBC Panorama's joint investigation with Premieres Lignes shows that cash from Kaloti was a crucial part of a $250m money-laundering operation which used gold sales to launder cash from British and European drug deals. The money-laundering could have been stopped years earlier if concerns raised by the two whistleblowers had been investigated properly. Anna Waterhouse reported her suspicions about Kaloti's cash withdrawals to the local money-laundering authorities. First, she told the Anti-Money-Laundering Suspicious Cases Unit at the Central Bank of the UAE. She says they didn't investigate Kaloti - but turned on her and the bank instead. Anna also reported the suspicions to another regulator, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA). It polices anti-money laundering regulations in the Dubai International Finance Centre. "Neither regulator that I had reported it to actually seemed to investigate the suspicions about Kaloti, but each regulator started investigating the bank," she said. The DFSA investigation found bankers in Deutsche Bank's Dubai office had broken regulations in a separate case involving its private wealth division. No clients lost money, but the breach of the rules meant the bank, and its senior managers, faced serious sanctions. The transcript of the Dubai court case suggests Deutsche Bank bosses sacrificed Anna and saved themselves. Image caption The leader of the money-laundering gang is still on the run The bank escaped with a reduced fine and Anna was the only manager sanctioned by the DFSA. The DFSA said it had no part in any plan to offer up Anna Waterhouse. It said it was not motivated by her decision to report suspicious activity. Deutsche Bank told Panorama it disagrees with the depiction of its treatment of Anna Waterhouse. It said this matter was thoroughly investigated more than five years ago by the bank, external advisors and the DFSA but it would be inappropriate to comment further because of the legal action. The bank said: "We take our anti-money-laundering responsibilities very seriously and have taken extensive steps to further strengthen our controls." Amjad Rihan wanted to blow the whistle on Kaloti too - but says his EY bosses wouldn't do it. He said: "If you identify a suspicious transaction, you should report it to the authorities. Instead of reporting the crimes that I told them about, my bosses just covered them up." He said: "Since I lost my career and I was pushed out from EY, I haven't been able to earn much money. Kaloti says it conducted all appropriate anti-money-laundering checks. It said cash payments were common in Dubai but it no longer buys gold for cash. But the two people who tried to blow the whistle about the suspicious activity in Dubai both feel they have been punished.