In a recent interview with Awalan/Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal, HE Hamed Al Zaabi, the Director-General of the Executive Office for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism, shed light on the UAE’s commitment to confronting financial crimes, including money laundering and terrorism financing.
The Executive Office, established in 2021, plays a vital role as the national coordinator for countering these illicit activities, and its efforts are supported by various relevant authorities, including regulatory bodies, law enforcement agencies, the Financial Information Unit (FIU), and other related entities.
The Vision and Mission of the Executive Office:
The Executive Office was created to serve as the central authority responsible for implementing the UAE’s national strategy to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. Its core functions are strategically focused on five key pillars: strategic communication, national coordination, risk and policies, smart and technical usage, and compliance. The vision of the Executive Office is to position the UAE as a global and regional leader in countering money laundering and terrorism financing, ensuring compliance with international requirements in this critical domain.
Combating Financial Crimes and Evolving Methods:
Financial crimes are a significant concern globally, and the UAE is committed to combatting various illicit activities. Under the wise leadership of the country, efforts have been made to counter organized crime, including money laundering, as a derivative of primary crimes. To achieve this, the Executive Office is actively working on combating cyberattacks, the misuse of social media for promoting illicit activities and money laundering, crimes related to antiquities smuggling, and environmental harm.
The Impact of Financial Crime on the UAE:
Financial crimes, such as money laundering and terrorism financing, can have severe economic and social impacts on a nation. In response, the UAE has adopted effective systems to combat these crimes, with the Executive Office playing a crucial role as the main coordinating entity. This strong system protects the country and its economy and enhances its status as an exceptional economic model and a significant financial and commercial center.
International Cooperation and Partnerships:
Recognizing the transnational nature of financial crimes, the UAE actively engages in international cooperation efforts. Partnerships and agreements with important countries worldwide, multilateral organizations, and the United Nations form a cornerstone of their strategy. These collaborations facilitate sustainable efforts in countering money laundering and terrorism financing on a global scale, aligning with the UAE’s vision of becoming a leader in this field.
Strengthening the National Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing System:
The UAE employs several tools to enhance its national anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing system. These include training and capacity building to develop competent leadership, direct communication and coordination with relevant stakeholders, and continuous updates to legislation and guidelines in collaboration with relevant authorities. Furthermore, the UAE conducts regular risk assessments to identify weaknesses, risks, and high-risk sectors, leading to evidence-based decisions to mitigate potential threats.
The Role in Regulating Digital Assets:
The UAE is at the forefront of regulating the digital assets space. In January 2023, a decision was issued to develop the legislative framework for virtual assets and virtual asset service providers. Regulatory bodies, such as the Securities and Commodities Authority and the Virtual Assets Regulation Authority, have been established to supervise and oversee the sector, ensuring compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing measures.
The Executive Office for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism plays a critical role in the UAE’s relentless efforts to combat financial crimes, including those in the digital assets space. By promoting international cooperation, implementing robust systems, and staying ahead of evolving criminal methods, the UAE is committed to securing its economy, safeguarding its society, and positioning itself as a global leader in countering money laundering and terrorism financing.