What are the recent developments of Anti Money Laundering in the UAE?

The UAE continuously tightens its rules and regulations concerning anti-money laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF). It is constantly committed to its goal and vision to establish itself as the global centre for international businesses and commits to the highest standards possible in all streams. UAE aims to continuously improve the government operations in a comprehensive institutional manner and implement it to effectively counter the risks associated with money laundering & terrorism financing and that of illegal organizations developing in the region. 

In this article, we will discuss some of the recent changes in AML and CTF measures in the UAE.

  • New Guidelines from UAE Central Bank: The UAE Central Bank has issued new guidelines in anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism efforts. The new guidelines focus on entities functioning in the real estate, precious metal and stones sectors. The new measures are in force from June onwards and have been affected in understanding and mitigating the risks. Under the new guidelines, the licensed financial institutions are required to conduct appropriate levels of due diligence. They are obliged to report directly to the UAE’s Financial Intelligence Unit and report any suspicious activities by filing a ‘suspicious activity report’. Institutions functioning in the real estate, precious metal and stones sector are also guided to appoint a compliance officer and develop effective programs that help to assess and control money laundering and terrorist financing risks. A recent statement issued by the Central Bank governor states its vision and role in AML and CTF “A critical part of UAE Central Bank is to ensure that all licensed financial institutions have a deep comprehension of their role in mitigating and addressing the risk of illicit activities in the UAE’s financial system”.
  • Stringent Legal Measures: The UAE Courts are imposing strict penalties in the money laundering case. The Courts have passed heavy sentences such as imposing a fifteen-year imprisonment term and imposing a penalty equivalent to the misappropriated amount. There are instances wherein heavy fines of Aed 50 Million have been imposed. The extensive investigation exerted by the public prosecution in tracing financial crimes is a testament to the strong commitment of law enforcement agencies in the UAE. Tracing of fake accounts and layered accounts to cover up the misappropriated assets are being thoroughly investigated by the UAE authorities.

The National Strategy to AML/CFT thus reflects the unrelenting commitment of UAE in its mission to ensure that it will not be viewed as a country in which criminals can carry out operations in money laundering or terrorism financing, nor can they route or transfer any proceedings that have originated through any criminal activity.

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