A new dedicated office to confront money laundering and terrorist financing has been established in the UAE, as authorities step up efforts to prevent such crimes.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on Wednesday announced the launch of the ‘Executive Office to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing’ in Abu Dhabi during a virtual Press conference.
It will oversee the implementation of the UAE’s National AML/CFT Strategy and National Action Plan (NAP), the programme of reforms designed to strengthen the UAE’s anti-financial crime system.
Hamid Al Zaabi, who is the director-general of the new executive office, said the entity was set up following the approval by the UAE Cabinet headed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
It will report directly to the Higher Committee overseeing the UAE’s National AML/CFT Strategy, chaired by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
“The UAE decided to establish a dedicated office to help deal and coordinate with the local, regional and international authorities in combating financial crimes,” said Al Zaabi. “Terror activities are usually financed through money laundering and the UAE is making significant efforts to combat it and cut terrorist finances.”
Objective and responsibilities
Its objective is to enable and better equip the UAE in building a strong and sustainable AML/CFT structure in the country.
Its responsibilities include: Improving national and international coordination and cooperation on AML/CFT issues at the policy and operational levels; and tackling money laundering and terrorist financing threats by working with regional and international groups.
Such groups include the Gulf Cooperation Council Working Group on AMLCFT, G20, and the Financial Action Task Force.
The office will also actively increase information sharing between law enforcement agencies, supervisors, and the private sector; explore and enhance legislation; and coordinate with the MoFAIC in ensuring that progress is accurately articulated.
The UAE has strict laws to deal with money laundering and financial crimes. In November last year, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department established a dedicated court to tackle money laundering and tax evasion.
Earlier this week, the Ministry of Justice said it has established special courts and committees to investigate and handle money laundering cases in the Northern Emirates.
In a major action taken in October 2020, the Ministry of Justice had suspended the licences of 200 law firms in the UAE for one month for not following prescribed procedures to combat money laundering. The ministry said it had also taken legal action against non-compliant lawyers. Authorities from the ministry said the penalties against the law firms included administrative fines ranging from Dh50,000 to Dh5 million.
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