ABU DHABI, 3rd February, 2023 (WAM) – The Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing (EO AML/CTF) led a delegation to Belgrade to meet with Serbian partners and discuss the strengthening of bilateral relations in the field of AML/CTF.
Hamid Al Zaabi, Director-General of the EO AML/CTF, headed the delegation, which included senior officials from government agencies, including the UAE’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and Executive Office for Control and Non Proliferation.
The delegation was welcomed by Siniša Mali, Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, Minister of Finance, and Chairman of the National AML/CTF Coordination Body.
Ali Faisal Ba’Alawi, Head of the UAE FIU, and counterpart Željko Radovanović, Director of the Administration for the Prevention of Money Laundering (Serbian FIU), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on enhanced bilateral cooperation, including the facilitation of information exchange and joint activities. The MoU is the 62nd signed between the UAE FIU and an international FIU.
The meeting covered various topics, including compliance with AML/CTF standards, national risk assessments, the fight against organised crime, ML investigations and prosecutions, and AML/CTF supervision and targeted financial sanctions. The UAE delegation presented an overview of their efforts to combat financial crime, including their National Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Terrorism Financing Strategy and Action Plan.
The UAE delegation gave briefings on important initiatives, a progress report on the implementation of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, and their approach to implementing targeted financial sanctions.
Commenting on the visit, Al Zaabi said, “Effective international cooperation is essential in the fight against financial crime, and we appreciate our Serbian partners hosting such productive meetings. High-quality and timely information is crucial for the effectiveness of regional and global AML/CTF efforts, and the signing of this MoU between our FIUs sends a strong message to financial criminals.”
Serbian authorities presented their National Plan, approach to the fight against financial crime, and National Risk Assessment (NRA).
Radovanović stated that the MoU should be seen in a larger context, as an opportunity and encouragement to explore other areas of collaboration, such as exchanging experience and knowledge. He added that Serbia has valuable experience to share in evaluating the risks posed by virtual asset service providers and companies financing proliferation. He also mentioned that Serbia is one of the first countries in the region to conduct such assessments.
Minister Siniša Mali emphasised the significance of the UAE as an important and friendly partner of Serbia, and the importance of further enhancing strategic relations between the two countries. He highlighted successful joint projects, such as the Belgrade Waterfront and investments in Air Serbia, and expressed his pleasure in taking steps to enhance cooperation in the area of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CFT). Mali acknowledged that money laundering has negative effects on a state and society, and that Serbia is open to cooperation and information sharing in this dynamic and sensitive field, particularly with the increased use of new technologies.
Both parties committed to working together to combat financial crime and secure the global financial system.