Britain and UAE sign deal to tackle illicit global financial flows

Agreement designed to improve standards in confronting movement of criminal and terrorist finances

Britain and the UAE signed a deal on Friday to tackle the financing of terrorism and the flow of illicit money that fuels organised crime.

Ministers said that the agreement would raise the professional standards of officials involved in confronting the laundering of criminal profits through precious stones, property and cryptocurrencies.

The deal was signed in London by UAE Minister of State Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh and UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Mr Al Sayegh said: “The UAE stands with the UK in the global fight against illicit finance. We are committed to stamping out terrorist financing and serious and organised crime in all of its forms to protect the UAE and uphold the integrity of the international financial system.”

The two countries pledged to improve intelligence-sharing and the two ministers will meet every year to assess the effectiveness of the programme.

Experts said the deal relied on investment in better systems to analyse and act on evidence supplied by banks about illicit deals. It also calls for stronger criminal sanctions and accountability for bankers and those involved in moving illicit cash through the international system.

Successive British governments have tried to tackle Britain’s unenviable reputation as a money-laundering hub, with its large financial services sector and highly trained members of the professional service who have been implicated in dirty money trails.

Former British prime minister David Cameron in 2015 made confronting the problem a priority for his government, aiming to ensure that the UK not become a “safe haven for corrupt money from around the world”.

Campaign group Transparency International has identified property worth more than £4 billion in the UK bought using suspicious funds. But critics say that the battle over Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have diverted attention from the issue.

Ms Patel said: “I will always take the strongest possible action to the keep the British people safe, and this new agreement bolsters both our countries' efforts in going after the terrorists and serious and organised crime gangs that seek to do us harm.

“The partnership will help to keep the public safe, protect our prosperity and bring dangerous criminals to justice.”

Updated: September 17th 2021, 2:39 PM