Credit By: Khaleej Times
Hamid AlZaabi, the visionary Founder of the Executive Office for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing, sheds light on the UAE’s notable strides in combatting money laundering and terrorism financing. In an exclusive conversation with Zawya, he elaborates on the nation’s actions to tackle financial crime, overcome challenges, and pave the way towards a more secure and resilient economic landscape.
UAE’s Path from the FATF ‘Grey List: A Comprehensive Journey
The UAE’s journey to counter money laundering and terrorism financing led it to be placed on the FATF’s “Grey List” in 2022, subjecting it to increased monitoring by the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG). AlZaabi highlights the UAE’s progress in adopting robust measures to address these issues head-on.
A Foundation of Risk-Based Approaches
A risk-based approach is central to the UAE’s strategy, which encompasses an intricate understanding of economic risks and vulnerabilities. AlZaabi underscores the significance of this approach in shaping effective systems. He discloses that the UAE is completing its second National Risk Assessment, a testament to its commitment to informed action.
Collaboration for Collective Impact
Collaboration lies at the heart of the UAE’s endeavours. AlZaabi emphasizes cooperation with international partners, including the World Bank Group and Financial Action Task Force (FATF), to build a cohesive front against financial crime. This alliance extends to domestic players, ensuring a comprehensive approach.
Strengthening Law Enforcement and Regulation
AlZaabi elaborates on the UAE’s strides in enhancing the capabilities of law enforcement entities to detect and investigate money laundering cases. Prosecutions and convictions have witnessed an upswing, signifying the efficacy of these efforts. Regulatory and supervisory actions have also gained momentum, particularly in high-risk sectors such as hawala and gold.
Stepping Up Compliance Mechanisms
The UAE’s commitment to compliance is evident in its efforts to improve the quality and quantity of suspicious transaction reports (STRs) and suspicious activity reports (SARs) sent to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). AlZaabi underscores the working group established in 2022, which has led to enhanced supervisory guidance and thematic reviews, resulting in a significant rise in STRs and SARs.
Progressing on the FATF Action Plan
AlZaabi provides insights into the UAE’s continuous engagement with the FATF and ICRG to fulfil the action plan requirements and move away from the “grey list.” The FATF recognizes the UAE’s dedication, positioning the nation on the path of progress.
Investor Confidence Remains Unshaken
Addressing concerns about investment, AlZaabi highlights the UAE’s resilience as a favoured destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). He points to consistent growth projections and favourable attributes like a competitive tax environment, secure surroundings, and developed infrastructure.
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