UAE reinforces commitment to combat money laundering

The UAE’s Ministry of Economy reaffirmed in August its commitment to fighting money laundering and the financing of terrorism and illegal organisations, in line with its aim of fully complying with the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) obligations.

Given the UAE’s central role in the global trade of oil, gold and diamonds, it faces significant anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CTF) risks – particularly, across the patchwork of emirates and free zones.

As a result, the UAE government has introduced several compliance and enforcement measures so far this year, including:

  • The creation, in February, of a new Executive Office to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing.
  • Requesting target businesses, in March, to register with the Financial Intelligence Unit and align with AML and CTF laws.
  • The launch of inspection campaigns, in April, to targeted designated non-financial businesses and professionals (DNFBPs) such as brokerages, real estate companies, auditors, corporate service providers, and dealers of precious metals and gemstones.
  • Introducing a requirement in June for over 500,000 firms in the UAE to disclose their ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs), or face penalties, in a bid to avoid the UAE’s inclusion on the FATF blacklist.

This emphasis on regulation and compliance has also been matched by enforcement. Penalties for not meeting AML and CFT requirements range from AED50,000 to AED5 million. The failure to comply with the regulations can also lead to the suspension of the licence.

The Ministry of Economy is collaborating with 17 registrars of companies across the country and has formed a team of 97 inspectors to ensure supervision and compliance across DNFBPs. “We count on the partnership and cooperation of the DNFBPs to achieve the highest levels of oversight and compliance and contribute towards protecting these sectors’ investments from money laundering risks,” said Mohamed Al Janahi, head of AML Supervision at the Ministry of Economy.

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