UAE Central Bank fines an exchange house almost Dh500,000

The penalty related to breaching anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism rules

The Central Bank of the UAE said it issued a new regulation covering licensing, prudential and conduct requirements for specialised banks. Ryan Carter / The National.
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The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) fined an exchange house operating in the country almost Dh500,000 ($136,000) for failing to achieve appropriate levels of compliance with anti-money laundering regulations.

The regulator imposed a penalty of Dh496,000 on the company, which it did not name, after it found the exchange house had a weak compliance framework to prevent money laundering and financing of terrorism. In determining the size of the fine, the central bank said it considered the exchange house's poor compliance history.

“As the supervisory authority of exchange houses operating in the UAE, the CBUAE is actively overseeing that all exchange houses, their owners, and staff abide by the UAE laws, regulations, and standards adopted by the CBUAE to safeguard the transparency and integrity of the exchange houses,” the bank said in a statement on Thursday.

The UAE, which has strict laws to deal with money laundering and the financing of terrorism, has adopted a number of new measures to fight financial crime.

The country launched a new agency to combat money launderers and those suspected of financing terrorists and organised crime earlier this year.

In November, the ministry of economy also set up an AML department to ensure all non-financial businesses and professionals comply with local laws. NFBPLs include accountants, lawyers, company service agents, precious metals dealers, estate agents and other organisations that could facilitate money laundering.

A court has also been set up in Abu Dhabi to tackle money laundering and tax evasion cases.

The latest action from the central bank follows the imposition of an earlier penalty of Dh504,000 imposed on a UAE-based exchange house in February.

Earlier this month, the National Committee for Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism and Illegal Organisations (NAMLCFTC) approved six-risk assessment reports in addition to guidelines for financial institutions and NFBPLs.

The reports relate to terrorism financing, trade-based money laundering, misuse of legal persons, non-profit organisations, lawyers and the gold sector.