Abu Dhabi Criminal Court has sentenced nine individuals to 10 years in jail for money laundering and running a cryptocurrency trading scam.

They were found guilty of possessing AED18m through fraudulent means.

The court fined them AED 10m each, while six companies involved in the illegal activities were fined AED 50m each.

The defendants had lured people into investing in a shell company specialised in digital currencies and shares, with the promise of high returns.

One of the accused who was operating from outside the UAE communicated with the victims. The man, who claimed to be working with foreign investment companies dealing in digital currencies, deceived the victims by telling them they would obtain big profits in return for their investment.

Prosecutors said the man had asked the victims to transfer cash to the bank accounts of companies based in the UAE to make them believe that it was a genuine investment.

After receiving the cash from the victims through internal bank transfers, the defendants who operated through organised criminal groups, deposited the money into their bank accounts and then transferred the cash between the accounts of their companies.

They then transferred large amounts of the cash to accounts outside the state, with the intention of concealing evidence and disguising the source of the illegal funds.

Authorities launched an investigation after being tipped off by one of the victims.

The court ordered the seizure of the defendants' funds and assets, while eight of the individuals will be deported after serving their sentences.