ADGM fines Pyppl $486,000 for anti-money laundering failures

The FinTech was also found to have failed to carry out required risk assessments and due diligence on its customers

The ADGM headquarters on Al Maryah Island. Its Financial Services Regulatory Authority says it will take action to ensure firms meet anti-money laundering requirements. Victor Besa / The National
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Abu Dhabi Global Market's Financial Services Regulatory Authority has imposed a fine of $486,000 on UAE-based financial technology company Pyppl for its failure to adequately comply with anti-money laundering regulations.

The authority found that from March 2021 to November 2022, Pyypl failed to ensure that its anti-money laundering policies, procedures, systems and controls were adequate and effective to comply with anti-money laundering requirements, including the effective monitoring and detection of suspicious activity or transactions, the regulatory authority said in a statement on Wednesday.

The company was also unable to carry out required anti-money laundering risk assessments and due diligence on its customers. It also failed to assess the expected payment volumes of its customers, as well as consider all of its services when undertaking customer anti-money laundering risk-assessments, it said.

The FSRA’s review, however, did not identify any instances of actual money laundering resulting from the inadequacy of Pyypl’s systems and controls.

In addition, the regulatory authority found that between May 2021 and November 2022, Pyypl had made arrangements for its customers to buy contracts of insurance from a third-party provider through an application provided by Pyypl.

“In doing so, Pyypl was found to have conducted the regulated activity of insurance intermediation without the appropriate authorisation to perform this activity,” the authority said.

Pyypl, which operates out of ADGM, did not contest the findings and agreed to settle the fine as soon as possible, qualifying it for a 20 per cent discount on the penalty. Otherwise, the fine would have been $607,500, the regulatory authority said.

“Pyypl and its senior management co-operated fully with the FSRA’s enquiries and Pyypl has remediated each of the issues identified by the FSRA, subject to the FSRA’s verification,” the authority said.

The UAE has made significant progress in combating money laundering, the financing of terrorism and weapons proliferation over the past few years.

The Arab world’s second-largest economy has passed strict anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism laws and has issued a number of regulations over the years to clamp down on financial crime.

“The FSRA is committed to taking proactive steps to ensure that all regulated entities maintain high standards to combat financial crime and money laundering risks, as well as ensuring that regulated entities comply with the FSRA’s rules and regulations,” Emmanuel Givanakis, chief executive of Abu Dhabi Global Market's Financial Services Regulatory Authority, said in the statement.

“The FSRA will not hesitate to take robust action to ensure firms comply fully with anti-money laundering requirements in ADGM, and to ensure that authorised firms do not conduct regulated activities outside the scope of their licence.”

The UAE has issued fines of more than Dh115 million ($31.3 million) in the first quarter of this year in its fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism, according to latest data.

In July, the UAE’s Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism held a workshop with the World Bank to boost its framework against financial crimes.

Updated: October 04, 2023, 11:26 AM