Punitive measures aimed at creating a safe business environment and enhancing the competitiveness of national economy
Abu Dhabi, 27 March 2023: The Ministry of Economy imposed fines worth AED 22.6 million on 29 companies operating in the UAE’s designated non-financial business or professions (DNFBP) sector for failure to comply with the anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) legislation. The initiative falls in line with the Ministry’s efforts to ensure the sector’s full compliance with the provisions stipulated by Federal Decree-Law No. 20 of 2018 on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism and illegal organizations and its executive regulations and related laws. Adherence to the law is necessary to ensure the country’s full compliance with the international standards issued by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The Ministry revealed that a total of 225 violations committed by the violators were found, including failure to adopt necessary measures and procedures to identify the risks of crime in their field of work. These companies failed to establish internal policies and procedures to check customer databases and transactions against names mentioned on the terrorism list, which was issued under the provisions of Cabinet Resolution No. 74 for 2020 on the UAE’s list of terrorists. It was issued in implementation of the UN Security Council decisions on the prevention and combating of terrorism financing, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the relevant resolutions. The Ministry revealed that violators include 17 companies engaged in precious metals and gems-related activities, four corporate service providers and two auditing service companies.
H.E. Abdullah Sultan Al Fan Al Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy for the Control and Follow-up Sector and chairman of the committee for the imposition of fines on violators, said: 'The imposition of fines on violators is in line with the Ministry of Economy’s strategies and efforts as the authority responsible for the supervision of the DNFBP sector and ensuring its full compliance with the legislation.”
He added: “The Ministry of Economy is intensifying field inspections on high-risk companies in all emirates of the country. Simultaneously, our work teams are providing intensive awareness and training support to the sector’s companies.”
He emphasized that adherence and compliance to the legislation are non-negotiables in the Ministry of Economy’s policies and plans for the sector. Full compliance to the AML/CFT legislation is imperative to establish a safe business environment in the country that is free of money laundering and terrorism financing risks. It is a national priority that will contribute to enhancing the competitiveness of the UAE economy at regional and global levels, he added.
Furthermore, Safeya Al Safi, Director of the Anti-Money Laundering Department at the Ministry of Economy, said: “The Ministry is absolutely determined to implement our annual inspection targets for the DNFBP sector. To achieve this goal in a timely manner, we have doubled the number of field inspectors needed to prepare technical inspection reports and submit them to the Investigation and Enforcement Department, to take necessary measures regarding the imposition of deterrent measures including fines.”
She added that the department’s work teams continue to effectively carry out intensive desk and substantive inspections in line with the inspection plan for 2023.
Meanwhile, Counselor Salem Al Tunaiji, Head of the Investigation and Enforcement Department and member of the Administrative Penalties Committee at the Ministry of Economy, explained that the Committee imposes fines in accordance with the legislation in force and according to a specific work methodology.
He added that there are more reports that are currently being studied by the Investigation and Enforcement Department, and that such punitive measures will continue to be implemented in order to establish a safe economic environment in the country, which is free of money laundering and terrorism financing crimes.
Al Tunaiji further pointed out the need for DNFBP companies to visit the Anti-Money Laundering Department’s website in order to learn more the legislation, circulars and guidelines. These will help them better understand their obligations to ensure compliance in accordance with local and international requirements.
The Ministry added that adherence and compliance are necessary for its policies and plans to reach a compatible and safe business environment from money laundering and terrorist financing crimes, which is a national priority.