ABU DHABI, 3rd November, 2023 (WAM) — H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, chaired the 20th Meeting of the Higher Committee Overseeing the National Strategy on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing.
H.H. Sheikh Abdullah welcomed the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) confirmation that the UAE has completed its action plan, and the announcement of its intention to conduct an on-site assessment at the beginning of 2024, which aims to review the implementation and sustainability of the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) reforms adopted by the relevant authorities.
During the meeting, Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, reviewed the latest developments in oversight of the business and DNFBP sectors in the country, emphasising that the UAE’s efforts to reinforce oversight and awareness are continuing in a manner that meets the requirements of national AML legislation and in line with global best practices. He noted that the Ministry of Economy conducted 3,173 inspections from January to October 2023, which resulted in fines worth AED 91.5 million on 284 establishments.
Bin Touq also presented the recent developments in the country’s legislative environment to support AML/CFT efforts. These include the issuance of legislation and cabinet decisions based on international best practices, such as the issuance of ministerial decisions regulating ultimate beneficial owner procedures and imposing administrative penalties for failure to comply. He highlighted the results of the risk-based operational plan for the 36 company registrants in the country, in addition to the latest updates in the unified commercial registry in each emirate.
Furthermore, the Director-General of the Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing (EO AML/CTF), Hamid Al Zaabi, reviewed all items of the National Action Plan and the progress made by the UAE to date. The plan outlines the positive and continuous efforts of the UAE to ensure the sustainability of its AML/CTF framework and its increasing effectiveness across all areas.
The meeting reaffirmed the UAE’s considerable efforts in the field of sustainable financial system protection and reinforcing international cooperation to counter money laundering and financing terrorism, with official statistics showing a sustained increase in international requests in this area. The UAE has signed 45 mutual legal assistance treaties (MLAT), with more than 12 MLAT’s currently being prepared.
The meeting covered law enforcement agency efforts, including complex investigations, which resulted in a sustained increase in financial investigations and prosecutions, in line with the risk profile. The UAE maintained a 92.1 percent conviction rate in money laundering cases between March 2023 and mid-July 2023, securing 76 convictions during the same period.
The meeting also discussed priorities for the upcoming period and the roadmap for key issues and projects to ensure the sustainability of the national AML/CTF framework, including further enhancing the regulatory framework for virtual assets in line with international standards developments, enhancing the governance of the non-profits organizations sector, and strengthening domestic cooperation and national framework initiatives.
The meeting was attended by Mohamed Hadi Al Hussaini, Minister of State for Financial Affairs; Shamma bint Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of Community Development; Abdullah bin Sultan bin Awad Al Nuaimi, Minister of Justice; Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State; Khaled Balama Al Tameemi, Governor of the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates (CBUAE); Ali Al Neyadi, Chairman of the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority; Lt. Gen Talal Belhoul Al Falasi, Director-General of Dubai State Security; Ali bin Hammad Al Shamsi, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for National Security; and Lt. Gen Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police.
Saeed Mubarak Al Hajeri, Assistant Minister for Economic and Trade Affairs; and Ibrahim Mohammed Al Zaabi, Director-General of the State Security Service; and Hamid Saif Al Zaabi, Director-General of the Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing, were also present.