Author: Zulfi Meerza 24 October 2022
The UAE has stated that it has confiscated assets worth more than Dh4.73 billion ($1.29bn) in a year, as part of its battle against money laundering and terrorist financing.
The announcement was made by Hamid Al Zaabi, the UAE’s director general of the Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT).
He explained that assets worth Dh2.54bn were seized by authorities while assets worth Dh2.19bn were confiscated. Authorities in the UAE, which is the Arab world’s second-largest economy, also froze assets worth more than Dh13 million in the same period.
Mr Al Zaabi said: “The UAE takes these AML/CFT matters extremely seriously and this is the reason why it came up with the idea of the executive office to take the lead [role] in the system and focus on shaping policies and strategies, co-operation and engagement.
“So, we now have a department working on domestic compliance and co-ordination, and a department that focuses on international co-operation, AML/CFT partnerships and communication.”
The UAE has made significant progress in combating money laundering and terrorism financing in recent years. Its Financial Intelligence Unit - which works with authorities to determine links between possible proceeds of crime, money laundering or terrorist financing – reported a 51% year-on-year increase in the number of suspicious transaction reports in the first quarter of this year. There has also been a rise in both AML/CFT enforcement actions and the number of individuals imprisoned for financial crime.
The seizing of over a billion dollars in assets in the 12 months to the end of July clearly illustrates the UAE’s appetite for tackling illicit wealth. The UAE has also recently made significant strides in AML/CFT reforms with the introduction of new reporting obligations targeting the real estate sector, in circumstances where payments are made in cash or linked to digital assets. The above steps will go some way towards the region becoming recognised globally as a safe place to do business.
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