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UAE’s Ministry of Economy unveils list of violations, fines for money laundering

UAE’s Ministry of Economy unveils list of violations, fines for money laundering

The Ministry of Economy (MoE) has issued a list of 26 violations, in line with the cabinet resolution No. (16) of 2021 regarding the unified list of violations and administrative fines for the said violations of measures to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.

The violations relate to the activities of the business sector and the Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs) that the ministry supervises, with regard to combating money laundering and terrorism financing, according to the provisions of Federal Decree-Law No. 20 of 2018 on countering money laundering crimes, combating the financing of terrorism and illegal organisations, and its implementing regulations and relevant decisions.

These activities include four main categories: brokers and real estate agents, dealers of precious metals and gemstones, auditors, and corporate service providers, official news agency WAM reported.

The ministry called on the companies practicing such activities to enhance their awareness and knowledge on the risks of money laundering and stay aligned with the government’s efforts in this regard. It further explained that the first necessary step is their registration on the Financial Intelligence Unit (goAML) and on the committee for commodities subject to import and export control system (Automatic Reporting System for Sanctions Lists). Following their registrations on these two systems, they should adopt measures related to the two systems according to the provisions of the decree-law, its regulations and decisions. The ministry had also recently launched an awareness and monitoring campaign to encourage the business sector and DNFBPs registered in the UAE to register on both the system.

The grace period for registering on the two systems has been extended until March 31, 2021, and that the companies that fail to do so before this date will be subject to penalties, including suspension of the license and closure of the facility.

In addition, it underlined the significance of completing the post-registration procedures and measures to avoid the fines set by the Cabinet Resolution No. 16 of 2021. These fines range from Dhs50,000 to up to Dhs1m, and can be increased to Dhs5m based on the provisions of the law and according to the assessment of the Supreme Committee for Combating Money Laundering, and Financing of Terrorism and Illegal Organisations.

Safeya Al Safi, director of the anti-money laundering department, MoE, said: “The department is committed to answering the inquiries of all stakeholders and helping the targeted establishments comply with the requirements of the law, via the Ministry’s call center number 800-1222. We call on all concerned companies to establish internal policies, procedures and controls to avoid money laundering risks in accordance with the measures set forth by the executive regulations of the law, which can be found on the official website of the Ministry of Economy.”

The issuance of the violations and fines list supports the UAE’s efforts in combating money laundering crimes and financing of terrorism, Al Safi said.

Al Safi also affirmed the Ministry of Economy’s commitment to strengthening partnerships with private sector companies and establishments that belong to the designated non-financial business and professions sector. The cooperation with target establishments is vital in preventing them from violations of the adopted measures.

The list of violations mentioned in the cabinet resolution includes three items with a fine of Dhs1m each, which are: Dealing with fake banks in all ways; opening or maintaining bank accounts with fake names or numbers without the names of their owners; and failure to take measures related to clients listed on international or domestic sanctions lists, prior to establishing or continuing a business relationship.

The list includes five violations with a fine of Dhs200,000 each, as follows

* Failure to take enhanced due diligence measures to manage high risks

* Not notifying the financial intelligence unit of a suspicious transaction report when it is not possible to take due diligence measures towards a client before establishing or continuing a business relationship with him or carrying out a transaction for the benefit of the client or in his name

* Failure to respond to the additional information request by the goAML regarding the suspicious transaction report that has been filed

* Disclosure, directly or indirectly, to the customer or to others about reporting the customer or the intention to report him, on suspicion of the nature of the business relationship with him

* Failure to implement the measures set by the National Committee to Combat Money Laundering with regard to clients from high-risk countries.

The decision lists seven violations with fines of Dhs100,000, namely:

* Failure to take the necessary measures to determine the risks of crime in one’s field of work

* Failure to identify and assess risks that may arise in his field of work when he develops the services he provides or undertakes new professional practices through his establishment

* Failure to take due diligence measures towards clients before establishing or continuing a business relationship or carrying out a process in the name of or for the benefit of the client

* Failure to verify – using documents or data from a reliable and independent source – the identity of the customer and the real beneficiary or someone their behalf before establishing business relationship or account opening or during them, or before carrying out a process for a client with whom he has no existing business relationship

* Delay in informing the goAML of a suspicious transaction report if there is suspicion or there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the business relationship with the customer is linked to the crime in whole or in part, or that the client’s money that is the subject of the business relationship from the proceeds of a crime or used in it

* Failure to apply due diligence measures towards politically exposed clients before establishing or continuing a business relationship

* Not creating records to keep track of financial transactions with clients.

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