Non-registration with UAE's AML system to invite $1.3mln fines, business closure

The UAE has rolled out an AML drive to ensure a compliance rate of 70 per cent of the registration requirement

  
United Arab Emirates Currency, Coins and Bills in a Pile. Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

United Arab Emirates Currency, Coins and Bills in a Pile. Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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More than 13,000 business firms have so far registered with anti-money laundering system as the UAE stepped up efforts to raise awareness about the AML and terrorism financing crimes by imposing fines of up to Dh5 million for non-registration, the Ministry of Economy said on Monday.

The UAE, one of the first countries to build an integrated system to counter money laundering and combat the financing of terrorism, has rolled out an AML drive to ensure a compliance rate of 70 per cent of the registration requirement, said Safeya Al Safi, director of the Anti-Money Laundering Department at the MoE.

Addressing the press conference, she urged establishments included in the Information Unit System to use the leading digital platform to file Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) and Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs). This will enhance the ability of the regulatory authorities to analyze and evaluate risks and take the necessary actions and measures accordingly, Al Safi added.

Also addressing the conference were Ahmed Al Hosani, director of the Commercial Registration and Certificates of Origin Department; and Mohamed Janahi, head of Money Laundering Control Department at the Ministry of Economy.

Al Safi also urged the establishments that have not yet registered in the system to register as soon as possible and submit reports of suspicious transactions and activities through the system to avoid fines of up to Dh5 million or suspension of the license or even the closure of the establishment itself.

‘Our awareness-raising efforts included encouraging Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions to register with the Automatic Reporting System for Sanctions Lists, which will enable these establishments to receive updated information on the local and international sanctions lists of the Security Council and to take necessary measures of preventing crime associated with terrorism financing,” Al Safi said.

“The Ministry of Economy is committed to raising awareness on the dangers of money laundering, and enhancing your knowledge of the tools, methods, and mechanisms of money laundering and terrorism financing crimes. Know your clients, and protect your investments by complying with legal requirements in this regard,” the AML director said.

“Improve your internal systems to enhance your ability to identify sources of money laundering and monitor and report suspicious transactions. Let us be careful not to be the instruments through which criminals achieve their goals and let us work together to protect our national economy, enhance its stability and competitiveness, increase global confidence in it, and ensure its true growth that reflects on the prosperity of society and the UAE’s sustainable development.” Al Safi said.

Al Hosani said the ultimate beneficial owner procedures are key elements in the UAE’s approach to curbing money laundering and financing of terrorism and illegal organizations and financing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, in line with the Financial Action Task Force’s requirements and the National AML strategy’s determinants.

He said collection of private sector establishments’ ultimate beneficial owner data contributes to the development of governance and disclosure/ reporting systems in the UAE’s business environment, thereby offering increased protection against financial crimes, money laundering and commercial fraud. This move will enhance confidence in our national economy’s transparency and resilience in accordance with international standards.

Al Hosani said the campaign that the ministry launched last week included an awareness campaign dedicated to raising awareness among private sector establishments about the importance of submitting ultimate beneficial owner data to the licensing authorities as a mandatory legal requirement that must be complied with, to avoid penalties and fines.

He said the total number of targeted establishments across the UAE is approximately 513,000, regulated by 38 licensing authorities.

“This campaign will continue till the end of June 2021 as part of our efforts to raise more awareness in this regard. Following this, starting from July 1, 2021, the penalties stipulated in the Cabinet Resolution No. 53 of 2021 on the Administrative Penalties Against Violating ultimate beneficial owner procedures will come into effect. These include the issuance of written warnings up to imposing Dh100,000 in fines in the event of recurrence and continued noncompliance, along with additional administrative penalties, including, among others, license suspension for one year, and restrictions on board of directors’ authority,” Al Hosani said.

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