Central Bank of the UAE fines two exchange houses Dh1.45m for lax compliance

The regulator cites weak anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism compliance frameworks

The Central Bank of the UAE praised the UAE leadership for its efforts in aiding the country's economic recovery. Ryan Carter / The National
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The Central Bank of the UAE imposed administrative sanctions on two exchange houses operating in the country and fined them Dh1.45 million ($395,000).

The regulator implemented its decision on October 4, in line with Article 14 of the Federal Decree 20 of 2018 on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Financing of Illegal Organisations, it said in a statement on Monday.

"The exchange houses have weak anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism compliance frameworks. The CBUAE took the exchange houses’ poor compliance histories into account, and imposed financial sanctions of Dh500,000 on one, and Dh950,000 on the other," it said.

The move is part of a drive to enhance transparency of financial transactions and strengthen the oversight of money transfers.

“As the supervisory authority of exchange houses operating in the UAE, the central bank is committed to ensuring all exchange houses abide by UAE laws, regulations and standards,” the financial watchdog said.

In September, the UAE rolled out a new smart system named ‘Fawri Tick’ to monitor and curb terrorism financing in the country.

The tool integrates and aggregates various anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing cases across federal and local authorities and facilitates communication among all relevant authorities in an effort to combat financial crimes.

“The smart platform allows the UAE to apply strict control measures to respond effectively to financial crimes and more importantly eliminate them in a timely manner,” Abdulhamid M Saeed Alahamadi, governor of the UAE Central Bank, said at the time.

The UAE also said in September that all hawala providers – informal fund transfer service providers for individuals utilising non-bank methods – must register with the central bank.

Last year, the UAE become the first GCC country to launch ‘goAML’, a reporting platform developed by the United Nations to curb organised crime. More than 900 entities, including banks, insurance companies and money exchange centres, became part of the platform to help regulators prevent money laundering, the financing of terrorism and other illicit financial activities.