UAE - Seven law firms have been fined Dh100,000 each for continuing to breach anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) measures, authorities have announced.
The Ministry of Justice said the fines were imposed in accordance with the provisions of Federal Law No. 20 of 2018 on countering money laundering, terrorist financing and illegal organisations.
According to the ministry, these measures are part of the UAE’s “continuous and extensive efforts” to address the risks associated with financial crimes. They “reflect the strong commitment of the ministry towards strengthening its AML and CTF supervisory role over legal professionals”.
The ministry had recently announced numerous legal measures against non-compliant lawyers. Last month, the ministry suspended the licences of 200 law firms in the UAE for one month over non-compliance with established procedures to combat money laundering. Authorities also took legal action against non-compliant lawyers as part of controls and procedures in this regard.
The ministry said the penalties against the law firms included suspension and cancellation of professional licences, as well as imposing of administrative fines ranging from Dh50,000 to Dh5 million.
193 firms rectify shortcomings
In response to these measures, 193 law firms have managed to rectify their compliance shortcomings, leading the ministry to lift the suspension measures.
“However, seven out of the 200 law firms fall short of taking necessary corrective actions, and therefore received a Dh100,000 fine from the Ministry of Justice as per the pertinent laws and regulations,” the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry has stressed the importance of law firms’ full compliance with AML and CTF policies and regulations, as it underscores the UAE’s commitment towards fulfilling its obligations in combating money laundering and terrorist financing.
The ministry praised the constructive partnership it has with legal professionals in the UAE, and commended the commitment of the vast majority of law firms.
Law firms were also urged to take all necessary measures to ensure AML and ATF obligations are respected.
According to the ministry, the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing is of “utmost importance” for the UAE, as demonstrated by the recent decision to form the Higher Committee Overseeing the National Strategy on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism. The committee is chaired by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
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