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Abu Dhabi arrests man wanted by Italy for financial crimes

An Abu Dhabi Police car. Danilo Coppola was arrested in the emirate on December 6 Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Reuters
An Abu Dhabi Police car. Danilo Coppola, 56, was arrested in the emirate on December 6
  • Interpol alert for Danilo Coppola
  • Stopped at shopping centre
  • UAE steps up co-operation

Emirati police have arrested an Italian businessman who is wanted in connection with financial crimes in his home country.

Danilo Coppola, 56, was stopped on December 6 at a shopping centre in Abu Dhabi. Local sources said the arrest followed an Interpol alert – a sign of the UAE’s growing co-operation with international law enforcement.

Coppola, who has lived in the UAE for about 18 months, was released on December 9. His lawyer, Gaetano De Perna, told Italian reporters that the Emirati authorities decided precautionary custody was “not necessary” pending any extradition proceedings.

De Perna added that he was waiting for an extradition request to arrive from Italy’s Ministry of Justice and to find out “when the hearing will be scheduled to decide whether to extradite him or not”. 

After his release, Coppola posted a video on Instagram declaring his innocence and criticising the Italian legal system. “I thank the people who showed me solidarity even in this latest madness that happened to me,” he said. 

In 2022 Italy’s Supreme Court upheld Coppola’s conviction on three counts of fraudulent bankruptcy, connected to the collapse of real estate ventures.

He has been sentenced to six years and two months in prison, but has yet to surrender to the authorities. 

His arrest in Abu Dhabi was based on a warrant for this conviction, but he is also wanted in connection with two separate cases in Milan.

He is accused of attempted extortion in one and abuse of privileged information in the other. He denies both allegations.

Coppola previously lived in Switzerland, but the Swiss authorities rejected a request to extradite him over the attempted extortion case in May 2022.

The UAE has been stepping up its efforts to deal with convicted or suspected financial criminals moving to its territory. 

On Thursday it extradited British trader Sanjay Shah to Denmark in connection with tax fraud charges.  

Earlier this month it was reported that the Irish government will soon begin formal talks with the UAE to extradite the members of an Irish crime family believed to be in Dubai.

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