By Nasser Aljaberi and Bassam Abdelsamih
ABU DHABI, 3rd March, 2022 (WAM) — The Executive Office to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing has said that the total value of anti-money laundering and terrorism financing penalties collected in 2021 amounted to nearly US$1.048 billion (AED3.848 billion).
This amount comprised asset seizures worth $625 million (AED2.3 billion), fines for non-compliance to anti-money laundering and terrorism financing regulations worth $64 million (AED235 million), penalties on major financial institutions in the UAE worth $5.3 million (AED19.5 million), tax evasion and money laundering fines on individuals worth $10.8 million (AED39.6 million), confiscations valued at $109 million (AED400 million), preventive measures to address terrorist financing and collective actions amounting to $234 million (AED892.3 million) against 48 defendants and companies convicted in one case by the Abu Dhabi Courts for money laundering and fraud.
In an interview with the Emirates News Agency (WAM), Hamid Al Zaabi, Director-General of the UAE Executive Office for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing, said that these figures underscore the significant progress made by the country in addressing anti-money laundering and terrorism financing, in line with international standards and its commitment to combatting financial crimes, and as part of its national priorities.
Highlighting the achievements of the Office since its establishment, he said that it had closely cooperated with its partners from the public and private sector to support the anti-money laundering and terrorism financing system.
“On the legislative front, several major legal amendments were recently adopted, including the anti-money laundering law that includes wider powers related to confiscations, as well as controlling virtual assets,” Al Zaabi stated. The anti-money laundering law’s executive regulation is currently being amended, and the rules cover entities listed on United Nations (UN) Security Council lists.
In February 2021, the UAE established the Office for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing to coordinate relevant national efforts in the areas of sectoral and objective risks, under the framework of a national risk assessment.
The Office carried out 5,529 desk inspections, including substantive reviews using a wide range of industry sector data on Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) and collected through supervisory assessments, forms and follow-up visits.
As of 2021, the number of double taxation agreements has reached some 137.
Concerning the handling of virtual assets, Al Zaabi said, “Modern financial tools and financial innovation or financial technology are among the promising sectors that are exposed to the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing. Therefore, we are working to adopt a balanced strategy to ensure the growth of these sectors, to serve the national economy while ensuring that these risks are mitigated so they cannot be sources of threat and mechanisms for money laundering and terrorist financing.”