UAE Engages Onshore and Offshore Designated Non-financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs) to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing

His Excellency Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State, alongside His Excellency Abdalla Sultan Alfan Al Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary for Monitoring & Follow Up at the Ministry of Economy (MoE), and Bryan Stirewalt, Chief Executive, Dubai Financial …

His Excellency Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State, alongside His Excellency Abdalla Sultan Alfan Al Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary for Monitoring & Follow Up at the Ministry of Economy (MoE), and Bryan Stirewalt, Chief Executive, Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), brought together executives from DNFBPs to raise awareness and understanding of anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) in the UAE.

The two dedicated sessions – one focusing on onshore DNFBPs and the other offshore DNFBPs – discussed the UAE’s AML/CFT framework and practical actions to improve public-private sector collaboration in this space.

Led by UAE government authorities, more than six hundred DNFBP constituents joined the sessions to sharpen their understanding of key risks in the DNFBP sector, regulatory and enforcement developments and the importance of enhanced engagement between the public and private sectors to prevent financial crime.

The sessions addressed the private sector’s efforts in working with the UAE government to combat financial crime, with a particular focus on the role of DNFBPs within the UAE’s economy and more importantly their critical role in harnessing a strengthened AML/CFT system. DNFBPs include professions with heightened AML/CFT exposures outside of the financial services sector, including the precious metals industry, trust and corporate service providers (TCSPs), consultants, auditors, external accountants and those acting in the legal and real estate sectors. These professions are critical to the UAE’s efforts to enhance its AML/CFT framework and act as ‘gatekeepers’ to prevent financial crime from proliferating in the local and global economy.

Government participants included representatives from the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Executive Office for AML/CFT, DFSA, AGDM, and Ras al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ).

At the sessions, H.E. Al Sayegh, H.E. Al Shamsi and Mr Stirewalt, alongside experts from across the UAE government, underlined that the pervasive and evolving nature of financial crime requires mobilising the resources, strengths, and experience of both the public and private sectors, with DNFBPs playing a unique role in sharing information and implementing strong AML/CFT compliance frameworks. The event highlighted that it is only through the collective efforts of government, regulators, law enforcement, the judiciary and financial and non-financial businesses that the UAE – and the international community at large – can effectively respond to the threat of financial crime.

The primary objective of the UAE’s engagement with onshore and offshore DNFBPs is to raise awareness of the risks they face and how to best mitigate these risks and their negative consequences on the country’s AML/CFT structure. In doing so, the importance of applying customer due diligence, particularly in detecting and reporting suspicious activity and transactions was discussed. DNFBPs were made aware that an important focus is on the monitoring, reporting and analysis of suspicious activity through the Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) regime, the corporate registries, and other information-sharing channels. By forming closer ties between public and private entities, the UAE can ensure that data received from DNFBPs is accurate, complete and actionable to assist all agencies – from the supervisory authorities to the FIU and the judiciary – in their collective fight against illicit finance.

His Excellency Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, UAE Minister of State, said: “An effective system to combat money laundering and terrorist financing begins with an active and engaged partnership between the public and private sectors. Financial Institutions have a core role to play, but so do DNFBPs. This involves identifying, assessing and taking preventative action to mitigate the risks of being involved in facilitating the transfer of illicit proceeds for money laundering or terrorist financing purposes. The UAE government has invested significantly in its law enforcement agencies and financial intelligence unit. By working closely together we will be increasingly effective in safeguarding the integrity of the financial system. That is why we have convened these sessions. In promoting public-private partnership, we want everybody to understand the essential responsibility that our business and financial community holds in protecting us from the threats of money laundering and terrorist financing.”

H.E. Abdullah Sultan Alfan Alshamsi, Undersecretary Assistant For Monitoring & Follow-up, Ministry Of Economy, UAE commented: “The use of complex commercial arrangements by money launderers and terrorist financiers to hide their money trail is a common, recurring theme globally. These arrangements often use the services of professionals such as lawyers, accountants and corporate service providers, which is how these important constituents are exposed to financial crime risks and why they have an important role to play in the defence against it. These awareness raising sessions come at a critical time in strengthening the UAE’s approach to financial crime and build on the recent dedicated events held with financial institutions. The establishment of trust, confidence and understanding between the public and private sectors is fundamental in the fight against financial crime. This is precisely why we are creating more opportunities to connect stakeholders in the public and private sectors on important AML/CFT issues, particularly in world-class commercial hubs like the UAE.”

The Executive Office for AML/CFT

The private sector outreach sessions were organised and held in close collaboration with the UAE’s Executive Office for AML/CFT. The UAE Cabinet, chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, established the Executive Office for AML/CFT to oversee the implementation of the UAE’s National AML/CFT Strategy and National Action Plan (NAP), the program of reforms designed to strengthen the UAE’s anti-financial crime system.

The Executive Office’s responsibilities include:

• Improving national and international coordination and cooperation on AML/CFT issues at the policy and operational levels.

• Tackling money laundering and terrorist financing threats by working with regional and international groups, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Working Group on AML-CFT, G20, and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). This is done in conjunction with the National Committee for Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Illegal Organizations (NAMLCFTC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC).

• Actively increasing information sharing between law enforcement agencies, regulatory supervisors and the private sector.

• Exploring and enhancing legislation, in coordination with MoFAIC and relevant UAE entities, to further strengthen the UAE’s current AML/CFT framework.

• Coordinating with MoFAIC in ensuring that progress is accurately articulated and reflected to the Higher Committee on AML/CFT under the mandate of His Highness Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation