UAE: New curbs on cash, precious metal traffic as country steps up money laundering drive

Dubai - Tools include submitting suspicious banking reports, unified electronic customs platform, among other restrictions.

By Issac John

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Published: Thu 25 Mar 2021, 6:04 PM

The UAE has stepped up its fight against money laundering and financial crime by introducing new measures and tools, including new restrictions on the movement of cash and precious metals.

The recently established 'Executive Office to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing' said on Thursday that the anti-money laundering tools include one for submitting suspicious banking reports, a unified electronic customs platform and a programme restricting movement of cash, stones and precious metals before and after arrival.

The set of technical tools will help 'Executive Office’ collect and examine data and subsequently share it with relevant authorities to take action when necessary.

These include the 'goAML' tool to submit and analyse suspicious banking reports for authorities to take legal action. There is also the 'IEMS' platform to exchange messages between the Financial Information Unit, the private sector, and law enforcement entities in the UAE. The 'Fawri Tech' programme will facilitate immediate action on financial issues related to combating proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The tools also include a unified e-customs platform to contribute in the long term to controlling illicit trafficking and smuggling operations in the country. The 'Declare' programme restricts the movement of cash, precious stones and metals before and after their arrival in the country in accordance with the movement of passengers across customs borders.

The UAE passed an anti-money laundering and terrorism financing law in 2018. In February, 2021, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation announced the launch of the 'Executive Office.”

“Through the adoption of these technical controls, the Executive Office hopes to strengthen the UAE’s efforts to curb illicit flows of funds, promote asset recovery, and combat all forms of transnational financial crime,” the Office said in a statement.

The UAE exports bullion worth billions of dollars to refiners accredited by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), the world’s most influential bullion market authority.

The association in November 2020 threatened to stop bullion from countries including the UAE entering the mainstream market if they fail to meet regulatory standards. Subsequently, in December the UAE declared its support for an initiative by the LBMA to improve regulation on matters such as money laundering and unethical sourcing of gold.

Hamid Al Zaabi, director-general of the Executive Office, said last month that the entity was set up to help deal and coordinate with the local, regional and international authorities in combating financial crimes. "Terror activities are usually financed through money laundering and the UAE is making significant efforts to combat it and cut terrorist finances," said Al Zaabi.

Responsibilities of the new entity include: Improving national and international coordination and cooperation on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) & Counter Terrorist Financing (CTF) issues at the policy and operational levels; and tackling money laundering and terrorist financing threats by working with regional and international groups.



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