The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) has imposed fines of $14,000 on two companies for lapses related to anti-money laundering (AML) regulations. 

The two unidentified businesses have been asked to pay financial penalties of $5,600 and $8,400, respectively, for their “repeated” failure to submit annual AML returns despite several reminders. 

“The DFSA expects all authorized firms to submit AML returns within the set deadlines and will look to escalate fines against recalcitrant firms,” said Ian Johnston, CEO of DFSA. 

“The DFSA will continue to take all the necessary actions to ensure strict compliance with AML-related requirements in the DIFC.” 

In a statement on Thursday, the DFSA said the two companies were granted a discount on their financial penalties. Were it not for the settlement, the total fines for the two firms would have reached $20,000. 

The AML return is used by the DFSA to assess compliance with AML obligations. Firms are required to complete it every year. 

The UAE has strengthened its regulatory framework in relation to anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing. Last year, the UAE central bank alone fined a number of entities, including exchange houses, for breaches of AML regulations. 

Among the offenders, an exchange house in the UAE was asked to pay a hefty fine of more than AED1.9 million ($517,000). The company reportedly failed to obtain letters of no objection from the central bank to enter into “certain business relationships”. 

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)