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UAE convicts Khashoggi ex-lawyer of money-laundering, overturns jail sentence

In this October 2, 2019, photo, a Turkish police officer walks past a picture of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)
In this October 2, 2019, photo, a Turkish police officer walks past a picture of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)

The former US lawyer of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been convicted of money-laundering and fined but has a jail sentence overturned by a court in the UAE.

Asim Ghafoor is convicted of “money-laundering crimes linked to a US-based tax evasion operation,” the official WAM news agency says.

The Abu Dhabi Money Laundering and Tax Evasion Court rescinds a three-year jail term but raises a fine against Ghafoor to five million dirhams ($1.4 million) and orders 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 says.

“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 adds.

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 having requested 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.

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