Dubai enacts changes to anti-money laundering rules following review

Amendments to DIFC law aimed at better combatting financial crime

The Dubai government has enacted legislative changes to strengthen how the DIFC fights financial crime. Jeff Topping / The National
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The Dubai government has enacted changes to the Dubai International Financial Centre's anti-money laundering laws following a self-assessment of the free zone’s capacity to fight financial crime.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, enacted the regulatory law of the DIFC, and subsequent changes to regulator the Dubai Financial Services Authority’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) rules, with the changes to take effect on October 29, the government’s media office said in a statement on Wednesday.

The changes include strengthening provisions to supervise non-financial businesses in the DIFC, and strike them off the register in the event of non-compliance.

“The DFSA welcomes these changes and sees them as an important step towards enhancing the AML/counter terrorist financing regime,” said Bryan Stirewalt, chief executive of the DFSA.

“They will also improve the supervisory oversight of [financial and other institutions], and are appropriate changes to support the growth of the DIFC and continue to position it as the financial hub of choice for international firms in the region.”

The changes will also contribute to the UAE’s upcoming evaluation by a global AML standards body, Mr Stirewalt said. The country is gearing up to undergo assessment this year by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body set up in 1989 and responsible for developing and upholding policies to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other types of financial crime.


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If the UAE falls short in its FATF assessment, it would receive a negative report and risk being named as “unsatisfactory” or worse. The country received satisfactory status in its last review in 2008.

“The amendments will enhance [Dubai’s] anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regime, and support the ongoing alignment of the DIFC regime with the FATF recommendations,” Dubai Media Office’s statement said.

The DFSA will apply a three-month grace period for DIFC-registered companies and other relevant bodies to comply with the amended law after it takes effect.