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UAE plays leading global role in combating financial crimes: Hamid Al Zaabi

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Middle East | February 24, 2024 6:54:59 AM IST
Abu Dhabi [UAE], February 24 (ANI/WAM): Hamid Al Zaabi, Director-General of the Executive Office for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CFT), said that the United Arab Emirates plays a leading global role in combating financial crimes, noting that the UAE will begin the next Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in 2026.

In statements to the Emirates News Agency (WAM), Al Zaabi said that the FATF's announcement on the UAE's completion of all 15 recommendations of its Action Plan is a culmination of the tireless efforts of various federal, local, and private sector entities in the country in accordance with the national strategy and action plan.

He said that the UAE has established a sophisticated monitoring and reporting system using digital tools and involving more than 90 national entities.

"The Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre, which is part of the Executive Office, retains this data, which is used to ensure that entities continue to comply with national objectives and international standards."

Al Zaabi explained that in the context of international cooperation, the UAE has increased the number of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) and has so far signed 45 treaties, with more to be signed this year.

In the area of financial information exchange, the UAE sent 200 outgoing MLAT requests between January and October 2023 to facilitate investigations into terrorist financing, money laundering, and predicate crimes.

In regard to suspicious transaction/activity reports (STRs), the first ten months of this year saw an increase in the participation of all sectors in this process and the number of reports submitted compared to 2022.

The Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBP) sector achieved a 266 percent increase in STRs, while the real estate sector increased its STRs by 106 percent. The Corporate Service Providers and Trust Funds sector achieved a 49 percent increase in STRs, while the total STRs submitted by all DNFBPs reached 90 percent.

The Director-General of the AML/CFT Executive Office said that in terms of law enforcement measures, the value of fines imposed by regulatory authorities in the field of AML/CFT between January and October reached AED 249.2 million, compared to AED 76 million in 2022, a three-fold increase.

In terms of targeted financial sanctions, regulatory authorities collected a total of over AED 10 million in fines imposed as targeted financial sanctions between July and October 2023.

The amount recorded on October 31, 2023, for fines related to targeted financial sanctions, represents a 448 per cent increase compared to the fines imposed in 2022.

He highlighted that last year, the Executive Office headed official delegations to the United States of America, the Republic of Singapore, and the Republic of Serbia to hold bilateral meetings.

It also headed the UAE delegation to participate in the annual meetings of regional bodies such as the FATF, the Asia Pacific Group (APG), and the Eurasian Group (EAG), adding that the UAE will host the APG Annual Meeting in Abu Dhabi in September next year, the first time the meeting has been held in the region.

Al Zaabi noted that Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) provide a good framework for exchanging best practices, as the Executive Office has signed MoUs with its counterparts in the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Kingdom of Morocco, and the Republic of Kazakhstan to enhance bilateral cooperation.

He emphasised that the UAE's next national strategy on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, covering the period 2024-2027, will be launched in the coming months.

Al Zaabi added that later this year, the results and recommendations of the latest National Risk Assessment (NRA), which began last year with the support of the World Bank Group, are also expected to be announced. (ANI/WAM)

 
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