The Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing met on Thursday to conclude a review on progress in the first half of 2022. The highlights of the review included the signing of five new international judicial cooperation agreements by the UAE with the United States, Russia, Netherlands, Denmark, and Italy.
Here are some of the other highlights:
- Regular strategic engagement and technical workshops have been held with the European Union, the US and UK
- The National Economic Registry now contains the ultimate beneficial ownership of 77 per cent of corporate vehicles – an important standard for transparency. Plans are in place to reach 100 per cent
- Suspicious transactions reporting increased 51 per cent year-on-year (1Q21 vs 1Q22) demonstrating greater AML/ CFT understanding by private sector and monitoring by supervisory authorities
- 16 government agencies and more than 20 private sector representatives have joined a Private Public Partnership to enhance effectiveness of AML/CFT regime and develop a legislation for sharing information between public and private sectors.
There have been significant AML/CFT enforcement actions Hamid Al Zaabi, Director General, said: “We have a clear agenda for combating illicit finance and preserving the integrity of the global financial system. It is anchored in embedding the institutional capabilities set out in the UAE’s National Risk Assessment, National Action Plan and National Strategy for AML/CTF. We carried the positive progress of 2021 into the first six months of this year and we take encouragement from that.
”Our priority remains to build long-term, sustainable capabilities and to accelerate the development of the UAE’s ability to detect, investigate and understand money laundering and terrorist financing as we advance financial crime compliance frameworks in the UAE and around the world.”
During the course of 2022 regular bilateral UAE-UK dialogues have been held to discuss improving information, financial intelligence and facilitating action against AML/CFT. Similar events have been held with the European Union (EU) and the United States. The UAE has also signed five new international judicial cooperation agreements (ICJAs) with the United States, Russia, Netherlands, Denmark, and Italy.
During a visit to the US in July 2022, the EO led a delegation from the UAE that met with Department of Treasury, private sector entities and leading think-tanks to discuss areas of collaboration in combating money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing.
Reporting of suspicious transactions and financial intelligence
The UAE Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is the central agency that works closely with relevant competent authorities to determine links between possible proceeds of crime, money laundering or terrorist financing.
In March 2022 the UAE worked closely with international counterparties on the dual listing of individuals belonging to a terrorist group. This led to the UAE’s law enforcement agencies taking action to arrest the individuals, raid their offices and homes, and collect physical and electronic evidence.
Total enforcement actions imposed by supervisory authorities during this period exceeded Dh42 million.
The UAE confiscated more than Dh2.35 billion in illicit assets in 2021, of which Dh15 million was in gold and precious metals.
The UAE has had numerous successes leading to: the arrest of a European thief who had stolen Dh3 million; uncover of a fraudulent scheme in cryptocurrency trading and money laundering, leading to arrests and prosecutions of the accused; and 40 people jailed and fined Dh860 million for fraud and money laundering, among many other significant arrests and international cases such as the arrest of suspect Sanjay Shah, and with South African authorities to arrest the Gupta Brothers.