UAE law firms fined Dh100,000 for breaking anti-money laundering regulations

Companies also did not comply with counter-terrorism financing regulations

Seven law firms were fined Dh100,000 by the UAE's Ministry of Justice for breaking anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulations.

The companies were among 200 that had their licences suspended last month for failing to appoint a compliance officer, fill out a questionnaire relating to money-laundering laws or update their data as requested.

In response, 193 law firms rectified their compliance shortcomings, prompting the Ministry of Justice to lift the 30-day suspension.

However, seven of them did not take necessary corrective actions and received a Dh100,000 fine.

"These measures are part of the UAE's continuous and extensive efforts to address the risks associated with financial crimes, and reflect the strong commitment of the Ministry of Justice towards strengthening its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing supervisory role over legal professionals," the ministry said on Sunday.

Law firms are obliged to put certain measures in place to prevent the illegal use of money to finance terror and money-laundering, under Federal Law No. 20 of 2018.

On Sunday, called on law firms to take whatever measures necessary to ensure they were compliant with their regulatory obligations.

"The fight against money laundering and terrorist financing is of utmost importance for the UAE, as demonstrated by the recent decision to form the Higher Committee Overseeing the National Strategy on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism under the chairmanship of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, the Ministry concluded," the ministry statement read.

The United Nation's Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that the amount of money laundered globally in one year is between 2 to 5 per cent of global GDP, or $800 billion - $2 trillion in current US dollars.

Though the margin between those figures is huge, even the lower estimate underlines the seriousness of the problem.