The UAE's removal from a global financial watchdog's "grey list" of countries on Friday was hailed by government ministers and officials as a satisfactory outcome of "collective endeavours".

The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Friday said the UAE, along with Barbados, Gibraltar and Uganda, has shown “significant progress” in addressing “deficiencies” in its efforts to combat illicit money flows.

The FATF made the announcement after holding three days of discussions on key money laundering, terrorism financing and proliferation financing issues at its headquarters in Paris.

The decision is widely seen as a win for the UAE, which has worked hard to implement the FATF action plan to improve regulatory and supervisory oversight of financial institutions and higher risk sectors such as hawalas and gold.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is also the chairman of the Higher Committee Overseeing the National Strategy on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism, welcomed the move and said the country is committed to consolidate its position within the world’s financial system and will work to safeguard its integrity.

“This success is the outcome of significant and distinguished efforts by relevant ministries, the federal government, and local entities. These collective endeavours serve to expedite the national strategy and action plan, achieve the directives and aspirations of the UAE’s leadership, aiming to further strengthen the country’s leading status and competitiveness, and advance its position globally as an economic, trading and investment hub.”

Abdulla bin Touq, Minister of Economy, said: “Reinforcing the effectiveness of our national system to combat money laundering and terrorism financing is regarded as a cornerstone for enhancing the UAE’s position as a global hub for trade and investment.”

Khaled Mohamed Balama, Governor of the Central Bank of the UAE and Chairman of the National Committee for Combatting Money-Laundering and Financing of Terrorism and Illegal Organisations stated: “The UAE’s constant commitment to tackle the challenges and risks in the global financial system is a fundamental factor in achieving its vast progress in strengthening its approach and commitment to encounter money laundering and the financing of terrorism, as a national and strategic priority, in line with global standards and international laws."

Hamid AlZaabi, the founding Director General of the Executive Office for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing said combatting financial crimes is a national priority, adding that the efforts will be sustained into the future.

"This includes the completion of the national risk assessment, formulation of national strategy for the upcoming years, and enhancement of our national capabilities across public and private sectors."

(Reporting by Brinda Darasha; editing by Seban Scaria)