UAE imposes $11m in fines for anti-money laundering offences in the first half of 2022

The Emirates has doubled efforts to assist in international co-operation

The UAE has been at the forefront of the fight against illicit financial activity, as it seeks to promote a secure system to boost confidence in consumers and businesses. Pawan Singh / The National
Powered by automated translation

The UAE's anti-money laundering task force imposed fines of more than Dh41 million ($11m) in the first six months of 2022, as it continues to rein in illicit financial activity.

The Emirates' higher committee overseeing the national strategy on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) also doubled its efforts to assist in international co-operation and mutual legal assistance cases and requests, state news agency Wam cited Hamid Al Zaabi, director general of the executive office of AML/CFT, as saying.

The UAE's progress in the fight against illicit finance was presented during the committee's 15th meeting, which was chaired by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation.

The financial system's rapid digital transformation has increased the vulnerability to fraud.

The Covid-19 pandemic also led to an increase in money laundering and terrorist financing, fraud, cyber attacks, bribery and corruption across the financial system, the UAE Central Bank said in September.

The UAE has been at the forefront of the fight against illegal financial activity as it seeks to promote a secure ecosystem in the country.

In June, Dubai Police arrested brothers Atul and Rajesh Gupta after an Interpol Red Notice was issued against them for allegedly looting billions from state-owned companies in South Africa.

Days before, the emirate's authorities arrested hedge-fund trader Sanjay Shah on an international arrest warrant from Denmark, alleging that the British citizen was a central player in a scheme in which foreign businesses pretended to own shares in Danish companies and claimed tax refunds for which they were not eligible.

In November, the UAE Central Bank established the Networking and Cyber Security Operations Centre to help defend the financial system's IT infrastructure against illegal activity and cyber attacks.

Senior judges in Abu Dhabi also highlighted the UAE’s efforts to fight money laundering this week. Mansour Al Marzouqi, chief justice of the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court, said anti-money laundering mechanisms were crucial in strengthening control in the fight against financial crime.

Globally, money laundering activity is projected to more than double to $5.8 billion by 2027 from an estimated $2.8bn in 2022, research firm Markets and Markets said in a report this month.

The UAE's AML/CFT committee said authorities have reached out to the private sector to ensure effective implementation of sanctions. It conducted 11 outreach programmes for the private sector with more than 7,000 participants.

"The higher committee welcomed the steps taken and the progress achieved by all authorities, which reflects the UAE’s commitment to combating money laundering and terrorist financing," the Wam report said.

Updated: July 06, 2022, 11:55 AM