UAE has signed 45 mutual legal assistance treaties

Al Zaabi: The national system to combat money laundering is strong, responsive and effective

  • The Ministry of Economy has completed 52% of full-scale field inspections of high-risk non-financial professions and businesses. Archival

  • Hamed Al Zaabi: "We are working to implement the agenda of combating illicit finance and maintaining the integrity of the global financial system."

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The Director General of the Executive Office for Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, Hamed Al Zaabi, announced the completion of a comprehensive review of the progress made in the field of combating money laundering and terrorist financing during the first half of this year, which showed significant progress at all levels.

"The results of the review confirm that our national system to combat money laundering and terrorist financing is strong, responsive and effective, as we continued during that stage to implement the national action plan and the national strategy to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, and we are working to implement the agenda of combating illicit finance and maintaining the integrity of the global financial system," he said in statements to the Emirates News Agency (WAM).

Al Zaabi noted that the Executive Office's efforts have led to significant increases in a number of key performance metrics, including STRs, enforcement measures, and inspections.

He stressed that the UAE will continue to build its sustainable and long-term capabilities in the field of combating money laundering and terrorist financing, to monitor, investigate and understand cases of money laundering and terrorist financing, and will continue to expand international cooperation in this regard.

Fines and inspections

The Director General of the Executive Office for Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing said that "the supervisory authorities of financial institutions and designated non-financial professions and businesses issued collective fines amounting to more than 199 million dirhams, and the state succeeded in confiscating more than 1.309 billion dirhams (356 million dollars) from last March to mid-July 2023."

He added that «the UAE reported a 17% increase in the number of suspicious transaction reports during the period from the first to the second quarter of 2023, and reports referred from professions and non-financial businesses during that period increased by 14%, and reports of traders in precious metals and stones by 23%».

Al Zaabi explained that the number of inspections reached 69,407 operations during the second quarter, exceeding the total number during the whole of 2022, which reached 67,97 operations, with an increase of 108% compared to the first quarter of 2023.

International Treaties

The Director General of the Executive Office for Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing confirmed that "the UAE has signed 45 mutual legal assistance treaties in line with the efforts mentioned by the Ministry of Justice in its guide on international judicial cooperation in criminal matters, and an agreement has been signed with Turkey, and another agreement is in the process of signing with Vietnam, while work is currently underway to develop 12 other judicial cooperation treaties."

He noted that the UAE has focused its efforts on mutual legal assistance requests, and other requests targeting trade-based money laundering, money laundering by a third party and foreign predicate crimes, including international facilitators.

"From last March until mid-July, the UAE sent 82 legal aid requests to 34 foreign countries, while last year it sent 290 requests for legal assistance to 72 countries, and during the first half it sent 119 requests for legal aid to more than 40 countries," he said. He revealed that during the first half of this year, the state received 202 requests for mutual legal assistance, and provided responses to 130 requests, while the remaining 71 requests are currently being processed by the concerned prosecutions until the end of June 2023, with one foreign country withdrawing one of the incoming requests.

Inspections and fines

"By July 14, the Ministry of Economy had completed 52% of full-scale field inspections of high-risk non-financial professions and businesses, with 1737,3360 out of <>,<> operations," Al Zaabi said.

He explained that «the regulatory authorities on financial institutions and designated non-financial businesses and professions issued collective fines amounting to 199 million dirhams during the first half of 2023, more than the figures of previous years of 76.2 million dirhams during 2022, 8.4 million dirhams during 2020, and 800 thousand dirhams during 2019». He added: "During the period between last March and June 2023, the Central Bank of the UAE carried out 30 field audits and completed 57 field audits," noting that the inspections carried out during that period led to 385 corrective measures identified, and to the issuance of 28 corrective plans for entities subject to the supervision of the Central Bank.

Al Zaabi stressed that the UAE's system of effective investigation of money laundering crimes and the rapid application of proportionate penalties continue to evolve and improve to deter further criminal behavior. "From March to mid-July 2023, the UAE continued to prioritize investigations and prosecutions of large-scale and complex money laundering cases, during which time the relevant investigative and prosecuting authorities filed some 183 money laundering cases nationwide."

"Of the new money laundering cases, 51 were based on FIU referrals, 164 were judicially investigated by public prosecutions, and 99 were referred to court during the review period," he continued.

Workshop

Abu Dhabi ■ Emirates Today - The Ministry of Economy, represented by the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism Department, held a workshop in cooperation with the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA).

The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy, Abdullah Al Saleh, said that "organizing the workshop comes within the framework of the ministry's commitment to enhance the readiness of its cadres on the one hand, and to build a strong compliance culture in the economic and financial system of the UAE on the other hand, in a way that contributes to applying the highest standards of integrity and transparency and confronting unsound financial practices in business activities."

For her part, the CEO of the Securities and Commodities Authority, Maryam Butti Al Suwaidi, stressed the importance of these workshops in raising awareness and enhancing mutual coordination among members of the concerned technical teams.