UAE Central Bank issues anti-money laundering guidelines for licensed financial institutions

Suspicious activities should be reported through the goAML portal, the regulator says

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, July 31, 2012:  
UAE dirhams. (Silvia Razgova / The National)
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The UAE Central Bank issued new guidance on Saturday to help financial institutions to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.

Lenders and other licensed institutions  in the country have been asked to report activities they suspect may be linked to money laundering, terrorism financing or criminal offences, the regulator said.

The reports will be filed directly to the UAE’s Financial Intelligence Unit through the goAML portal within 35 days of detection.

The guidance is aimed at strengthening efforts to enhance the effectiveness of licensed financial institutions in enforcing "crime-combatting measures”, said Central Bank governor Khaled Balama.

The UAE has strict laws to deal with money laundering and the financing of terrorism and illegal organisations. It has adopted a number of new measures to fight financial crimes.

Earlier this year, the country set up a new agency to identify money launderers and those suspected of financing terrorists and organised crime.

According to the recent guidance, licensed institutions should assess the relevant money laundering and terrorist financing risks a customer poses and develop an appropriate programme to counter them, the Central Bank said.

These can apply to companies, foundations, associations, trusts or other similar arrangements.

The country recently introduced strict penalties for those flouting its anti-money laundering laws.

An exchange house was fined Dh496,000 ($136,000) in April for failing to achieve appropriate compliance levels with anti-money laundering regulations.

The regulator did not disclose the name of the company.

The Ministry of Economy has also taken various measures to combat money laundering. It set up an anti-money laundering department in November while a court was established in Abu Dhabi to tackle money laundering and tax evasion cases.