Remove curbs on Nostro accounts, central bank tells overseas banks

DUBAI - The UAE Central Bank yesterday urged international banks to remove restrictions on opening Nostro Accounts by money-changers operating in the Emirates.

By Issac John

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Published: Tue 29 Apr 2008, 9:29 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:45 AM

Pointing out that money exchanges operating in the UAE are facing problems with respect to the opening of Nostro Accounts - a bank account established in a foreign country for the purpose of holding that country's currency - with overseas banks, a senior Central Bank official reaffirmed UAE's commitment to anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime.

"The UAE has a very robust AML/CFT regime. I am pleased to reconfirm as a representative of the UAE regulatory authority that banks, money-changers and other financial institutions are in full compliance with the laws, regulations and procedures in the country in this regard," said Abdulrahim Mohamed Al Awadi, Assistant Executive Director and Head of Anti-Money Laundering and Suspicious Cases Unit (AMLSCU) Central Bank of the UAE.

Addressing the Money Transfer Conference in Dubai yesterday, Al Awadi, who is also President of Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), called for raising awareness regarding UAE's track record in AML/CFT regime.

He said the UAE has frozen accounts of certain individuals and organisations in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions. "Reports have been compiled and forwarded to the United Nations through proper diplomatic channels," he added.

Al Awadi said the UAE has taken prompt and effective action in tracking and recovering funds related to fraudulent transfers from abroad. "AMLSCU has provided information to counterpart Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) for 943 cases from December 2000 to March 2008," he pointed in his opening speech at the conference organised by the International Association of Money Transfer Networks (IAMTN).

"The UAE has extended full support and cooperation both to the UN and other authorities in their efforts to track the accounts of terrorists and those who assist them. We have an active legislative framework and a strong regulatory and supervisory system for the supervision of banks, other financial institutions, economic and commercial establishments.," he said while stressing that technology will play a significant role in money transfer business in the future. "Therefore, it is necessary to understand and assess the risks involved," he told nearly 200 delegates taking part in the event from around the world.

He said UAE's Hawala Regulation has been designed to bring hawala business within the framework of anti-money laundering and combating terrorism financing regime. "The main objective of the Hawaladars system is to protect it from being misused by money launderers and terrorism financiers."

Al Awadi said the number of applicants for obtaining hawaladar certificate reached 369, of which 265 were issued certificates and the remaining 104 are in the process of compliance requirement.

Speakers at yesterday's morning session included Lady Olga Maitland, CEO, IAMTN, Matthew Epstein, US Treasury Department's Attache for the GCC, US Embassy, Abu Dhabi, Mohit Davar, CEO Coinstar Money Transfer Ltd, Neil Ruiz on behalf of World Bank, Sudhir Kumar Shetty, COO-Global Operations, UAE Exchange, Mohammed Al Ansari, Chairman Al Ansari Exchange.

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