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Chapter Fifteen: Dubai Anti-Money Laundering and CFT Regulations


As a responsible global financial hub, Dubai’s government recognizes that money laundering and funding diverted into the financing of terrorism are crimes that can lead to serious economic consequences. As a nation, the UAE understands that it is essential to combat these criminal activities to protect the integrity of their own, and the world’s, financial markets. Effective regulation is the answer to help mitigate the risks and reduce weaknesses or flaws in any system that might facilitate financial abuse.

The International Monetary Fund has been very proactive against the proliferation of such financial abuses over the past decade. They have called for tightening and upgrading of AML and CFT controls and stricter regulation, to protect and promote the stability and integrity of global financial markets.

In the UAE, great progress has been made particularly in the past decade, to combat the proliferation of financial crimes of this nature. The global market has recognized the UAE’s achievements in this arena and such recognition builds confidence in the UAE as a reliable, international financial participant.

However, there is no room for complacency. Regulators and trading entities alike, still need to be vigilant and keep pace with changes to remain at the forefront of the ongoing and evolving struggle to combat financial crime.

The UAE is prominent in world markets, particularly in the trade of oil, gold and diamonds and this leaves room for significant AML and CTF risks. Recent developments in the UAE have seen an impressive tightening of its AML/CTF regulatory frameworks by introducing a range of additional compliance and strict enforcement measures.

Anti-money laundering strategies in Dubai predominantly follow UAE federal legislation which was developed to meet the international AML/CFT standards set out in the recommendations of the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF), which are rigorously policed to protect the UAE’s reputation as a safe place for investment and business.

An ‘Executive Office to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing’ has been established to ensure that an emphasis on regulation and compliance will be achieved, backed by stringent enforcement measures. One such measure was the requirement of more than 500,000 trading entities in the UAE to disclose the identity of their ultimate owners in a bid to avoid UAE being included on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) watchlist. Other actions include the UAE Central Bank imposing financial sanctions of approximately AED46 million, on eleven UAE banks for ‘failure to achieve the appropriate levels of compliance regarding AML.’

In the UAE, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Central Bank has recently ratified the anti-money laundering platform (goAML), to curb illicit financial practices and strengthen the UAE’s cooperation in dealing with criminal activities. This system was initially developed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. All financial entities and designated Non-Financial Businesses or Professions must register on the platform, and are required to file suspicious transaction reports (STR) where such activity is identified.

The UAE Ministry of Economy handed down the reporting requirements for UAE licensed dealers in precious metals and stones, on 2nd June 2021. Dealers are required to verify the identity of any persons, acting as individuals or representing a company, involved in cash transactions from AED 55,000 and above, and register this information on the FIU’s GoAML platform. Dealers must keep the documents and data related to these transactions for at least 5 years.

Alongside government regulation, UAE businesses themselves have stepped up to their obligations and are tackling the risks of AML and CFT crime. With improvements in identifying, monitoring and reporting, enterprises can actively participate within the relevant federal laws, in an effort to help combat the fostering of financial crime.

This level of private and federal commitment demonstrates the UAE’s determination to comply with international standards to safeguard the country’s financial stability and performance on the global stage. It ensures that new businesses can be confidently established. within the framework of the law, and traders and investors can be sure that there are legitimate, rewarding opportunities awaiting them in Dubai and the rest of the UAE.

For new businesses starting up in Dubai, you can rely on the Turnkey Family Office to provide you with the full suite of professional services, banking and financial advice that you will need to get ahead and achieve prosperity. When you need reliable business consultancy or investment advice, Turnkey Family Office is the answer. Contact us at https://www.turnkeyfo.com/

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