The Director-General of the Executive Office for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CFT), Hamed Al Zaabi announces that in the previous year, UAE has attained substantial advancement in battling money laundering and terrorist financing. During the recent meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), it praised the achievement of the nation.
The Executive Office supports FATF and the UAE Action Plan
In a statement given to the media Al Zaabi explained that a whole-of-government approach has been taken by the UAE and, it is working closely with the private sector and authorities across the UAE. This helps to confirm that all the entities are taking effective measures towards AML/CFT.
An analysis of the measures taken shows that in the first quarter of 2023, the supervisors of the UAE issued about 161 fines to 76 organizations which adds to a total of more than AED115 million while comparing to a value of AED 76 million in the year 2022. In addition to this, there has been a surge in confiscations, with assets exceeding AED 925 million being taken from 2022, November to 2023, February.
The whole-of-government approach adopted by the UAE helps the nation to remain as one of the most important investment and trade hubs in the global economy. This underlines that the federal government is actively coordinating with authorities across the nation and the private sector to make sure that adequate AML/CFT measures are being implemented by all entities.
The data from the Ministry of Economy shows that during the year 2022, the economy of the UAE grew by 7.6 percent and the World Bank predicts that it will expand by 4.1 percent in 2023. Protecting the economy of the UAE and enabling businesses to function with trust and confidence have economic and social benefits.
Al Zaabi said that although the nation’s investment in the AML/CFT framework is a long-term one, they have already noticed developments across the whole system. He added that if we use compliance as an example, we can see that better practices have been implemented by the private sector as a response to the requirements and supervisory policies, with an increase in the awareness of financial crimes pointing towards a cohesive, responsive, and dynamic system.
He also outlined some of the major accomplishments of the previous year such as the position of the UAE as the sixth globally in terms of confiscations and arrests which constitutes a proportion of the total estimated financial crime value of the nation. He highlighted the major contributions made by the Emirati law enforcement agency towards international arrests and investigations. This includes INTERPOL’s most wanted trafficker Kidane Habtemariam and the largest drugs ring in Europe.
Reports say that during the first two months of 2023, the Financial Intelligence Unit has received about 7,000 reports of suspicious transactions and activities from appropriate entities across financial institutions and Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions which is an increase of 81 percent from that of the last year.
He added that the Executive Office had contacts with various industries, especially with those classified as high-risk by the National Risk Assessment. Through the efforts of the PPP Sub-Committee of the UAE, the system has brought together the private and public sectors. This was matched with the international efforts with the signing of new MLAs and the increase in the number of STR/SARs including foreign firms.