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2 May 2014

New AML laws passed in UAE

Content team

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has become the latest country to make efforts to tighten its anti-money laundering (AML) protections, after the nation's Federal National Council passed new legislation to punish individuals and companies that conduct illicit transactions and finance terrorism.

It will authorise financial penalties of up to Dhs500,000 (£86,000) for institutions found guilty of breaching the law, while individuals could face a similar fine, as well as prison terms of up to ten years, Gulf Business reports.

The publication noted the legislation comes after a recent survey by KPMG emphasised the importance of implementing tougher measures to crack down on this illicit activity in the Middle East.

While it stated countries in the region have made great strides in improving AML regulations in recent years, "significant challenges [remain] around compliance, especially with regard to customer due diligence, transaction monitoring, and politically exposed persons identification".

The UAE's new law seeks to clarify money laundering, defining it as when a person converts, transfers or deposits money with an intent to conceal its illicit origin and when they disguise the source of funds being transferred or deposited.

It also provided definitions for what will be considered terrorist financing and mandates that all inbound travellers to the country declare the amount of money and precious metals or gems they hold, under new disclosure regulations to be issued by the UAE Central Bank.

The legislation also details the duties of the bank's Anti-Money Laundering and Suspicious Cases Unit and Financial Information Unit. All banks, money changers and other financial institutions operating in the UAE will now have an obligation to report any unusual transactions to the unit.

KPMG has observed that there are many challenges facing financial firms seeking to do business in the Middle East at the moment, with issues such as political unrest making it more difficult to screen for financial crimes. therefore, companies must have strong compliance processes in place and be sure they are able to conduct thorough due diligence on all their customers.

Content team, Bureau van Dijk

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