UAE has taken 'significant steps' to tackle money laundering and financial crimes

Country is hosting annual Egmont Group Plenary this year

The UAE is currently hosting the annual Egmont Group Plenary, with the use of IT to enhance AML/CFT operations on the agenda. Photo: UAE Central Bank
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The UAE has taken "significant steps" to tackle money laundering and financial crimes and these efforts are "yielding fruitful results", the Governor of the country's Central Bank has said.

Speaking at the opening of the Egmont Group Plenary in Abu Dhabi, Khaled Balama, who is also the chairman of the UAE National Anti Money Laundering and Combatting Financing of Terrorism and Financing of Illegal Organisations Committee, highlighted the country's efforts to clamp down on financial crime.

The committee places "great importance on leveraging modern technology to facilitate the reporting of suspicious transactions, enable efficient communication, expedite procedures and make informed decisions regarding issuing fines", Mr Balama said.

"This stems from our awareness of the negative repercussions of financial crimes on the financial system and society at large, requiring us to work closely and enhance international co-operation to fight against these issues.

"We are pleased with the tangible progress achieved in this regard, which has been regarded by several relevant international bodies, namely the Financial Action Task Force [FATF] and the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force [MENAFATF].”

The regulator is also developing new systems and standards, such as supervisory and regulatory technology, to "fortify our operations and bolster the resilience of our financial system", he said.

As part of its regulatory oversight functions, the UAE Central Bank has issued new guidelines for licensed financial institutions, addressing money laundering and terrorism financing.

The annual Egmont Group Plenary, which has more than 500 participants this year, is being hosted by the UAE Financial Intelligence Unit.

It is focusing on how advanced IT technology can be used by global financial intelligence units to enhance operations.

“The annual Egmont Group Plenary is a pivotal event to promote international co-operation and intelligence sharing in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism," said Xolisile Khanyile, chairwoman of the Egmont Group.

This year's event has highlighted "the need to adopt and integrate digital technologies to increase information sharing between financial intelligence units around the world", she said.

The hosting of the Egmont Group Plenary is in line with nationwide efforts to protect the national and global financial system from money laundering, the financing of terrorism and financial crimes, the UAE Central Bank said in a statement.

It is bolstering co-operation with its international counterparts and promoting the exchange of information and expertise with the concerned authorities.

In May, the MENAFATF upgraded three FATF recommendations ratings for the UAE for its efforts to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.

The body upgraded FATF recommendations 1, 19 and 29 to “compliant” or “largely compliant” in response to the steps taken by the Arab world’s second-largest economy, the Executive Office for AML/CFT said.

With the latest upgrade, the UAE is compliant with 39 out of 40 recommendations of the FATF, Mr Balama said.

"Rapid technological advancements present us with formidable challenges, including diverse methods of financial crimes," he added.

"Overcoming these challenges necessitates close co-operation, continuous communication with international partners, diligent implementation of decisions and optimal support to financial information units. They serve as the bedrock for achieving desired progress among member countries."

Updated: July 06, 2023, 2:50 PM