UAE cracks down on money-laundering, action against 200 firms

The ministry had taken legal action against non-compliant lawyers as part of controls and procedures in this regard

  
United Arab Emirates Currency - Dirhams. Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Image used for illustrative purpose.

United Arab Emirates Currency - Dirhams. Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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UAE - Practing licences for 200 law firms in the UAE have been suspended for a period of one month for not complying with the established procedures to combat money laundering, authorities have announced.

The Ministry of Justice said it had also taken legal action against non-compliant lawyers as part of controls and procedures in this regard.

Authorities from the ministry noted that 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.

Law firms have also been urged to take all the necessary measures to ensure anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing obligations are respected.

The ministry asked the law firms to take the necessary legal measures against offenders under Federal Decree 20 of 2018 regarding money laundering, its executive regulations, and relevant ministerial decisions as part of the UAE's efforts to address the risks associated with financial crimes.

"The suspension of operations for law firms would be lifted if the lawyers in charge of the department's legal management office prove that they have carried out procedures to fulfill their obligations under Ministerial Resolution 533 of 2019 on combating money laundering," said the ministry.

The justice authorities have highlighted the important role by the law firms in combating money laundering in the country, as well as the need for lawyers to shoulder the responsibility of fighting this crime and identify the risks while handling clients, report suspicious transactions, and to maintain proper records.

Since August, the ministry has published a series of awareness messages through social media and other media channels calling on lawyers to take the necessary measures in accordance with the law on anti-money laundering to avoid problems.

All registered practicing lawyers were also asked to access the "Smart Lawyer" system on the ministry's website (elawyer.moj.gov.ae), or to contact the ministry's money laundering department to update their information in Arabic and English, appoint a compliance officer for each office, and fill out questionnaires relating to the compliance procedure.

 

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