The smell of dirty money pervades the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where money laundering is increasing, and those dealing with this type of money find a fertile environment without strict restrictions.
Threats of adding the UAE to the black list will increase if the country does not take actual and serious steps to prevent the dirty money movements.
In light of the constant threats, the UAE Cabinet approved the establishment of the Executive Office of the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Agency, to research the various issues in the country.
Dirty money in the UAE
The European Commission threatened that it would put the UAE on the European Union’s black list, if it did not make significant progress in combating money laundering and terrorist financing during June.
The UAE is currently undergoing a test period after the European Financial Action Task Force (FATF) identified many shortcomings.
The European Commission responded to a parliamentary question posed by European Parliament Member Fulvio Martocello on the issue of dirty money in the UAE, saying: “Dubai is a fertile environment for money laundering”.
The Commission stressed that there is a significant role for Dubai in facilitating corruption and illegal global financial flows.
The members of Commission also accused the UAE of being an attractive destination for dirty money.
Some financial, commercial and real estate transactions in Dubai are linked to illegal activity, and “Emirati officials consider the continuous flow of illegal proceeds from corruption and crime as part of the booming Dubai economy”.
Meanwhile, a report specializing in the fight against dirty money named the corrupt and criminal actors based in Dubai, such as Afghan warlords, Russian gangsters, Nigerian rulers, European money launderers, Iranian sanctions violators, and gold smugglers from East Africa.
A fight to avoid threats
The UAE’s approval to combat money laundering and terrorist financing came after the great threats hovering around it.
According to the announcement by the UAE authorities, the Executive Office will oversee the implementation of the National Anti Money Laundering and Combatting Financing of Terrorism and the National Action Plan (NAP), which is the reform program designed to strengthen the financial crime control system in the UAE.
Hamed Al Zaabi was officially appointed as Director General of the Executive Office of the United Arab Emirates, who will report directly to the Higher Committee overseeing the national strategy to combat money laundering and terrorist financing for the UAE, headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Following the decision of his appointment, Al Zaabi said: “In light of the vision of the UAE leadership and the directives of the Chairman of the Supreme Committee overseeing the national strategy to combat money laundering and terrorist financing in the UAE, the UAE is working in its role to protect integrity.”
He also stressed that his country takes the global financial system seriously, as “the size and complexity of financial crime has increased, as has the UAE’s awareness and understanding of it, and for this reason we are committed to taking measures”.
Whereas, he explained that the Executive Office will act as the primary national coordinating body for anti-money laundering and terrorist financing efforts within the UAE, with a broad mandate to assist entities related to combating money laundering and terrorist financing by enhancing efficiency to better deal with the country’s National Action Plan (NAP).