The United Arab Emirates (UAE) attended the 33rd Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) Plenary Meeting, held on 16-17 November 2021 in Cairo, as well as the ongoing MENAFATF Working Group sessions leading up to the plenary.
The plenary addressed the wide range of ongoing efforts in the region to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, specifically in relation to implementing the Financial Action Task Force’s 40 Recommendations and 11 Immediate Outcomes.
The UAE also briefed MENAFATF members on its experience in addressing the recommendations of the mutual evaluation report, as this experience demonstrated that commitment at the highest levels, an integrated methodology based on political support, and partnership between all relevant parties are the keys to achieving progress in the AML/CFT file.
This has involved:
- Advancing the work of UAE government agencies facilitated by the Executive Office for Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter Terrorism Financing (CTF) as the main national coordinating body to meet requirements set out in the National Action Plan and National Strategy for AML/CFT. This comes with the aim of unifying efforts in this regard and formulating a comprehensive strategy to combat money laundering and terrorist financing in line with all relevant international standards, laws, and conventions.
- Restructuring the sub-committees of the National Committee for Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Illegal Organizations and creating new committees to enhance the committee’s effectiveness, including through the launch of a Public-Private Partnership Committee chaired by the Executive Office for AML/CTF, which now includes members from 17 government agencies and 22 agencies from the private sector. This dynamic coalition, the first of its kind in the Middle East, reflects the UAE’s belief in the essential role that the private sector plays in building a sustainable system and flexible long-term response to achieve financial compliance.
- Discussing the steps taken by the UAE to mitigate the risks associated with new technologies and business practices, including the responsible incorporation of virtual assets into the UAE’s regulatory framework. The UAE has introduced rules and guidance to supervise such activities effectively and ensure that relevant firms have controls in place to monitor and comply with the UAE’s regulatory framework.
- Establishing the Financial Compliance Monitoring Section within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, which has played a vital role in supporting the UAE’s efforts for international cooperation and building platforms to exchange knowledge and experience through strategic channels with international partners. One of the most important achievements of the Financial Compliance Monitoring Section is the creation of the UAE’s Expert Group on AML/CFT, which is led by His Excellency Ahmed Al Sayegh, Minister of State, and His Excellency Khaled Balama Al Tamimi, Governor of the Central Bank of the UAE. The Expert Group includes key representatives from various national entities, who have held 30 meetings with experts in peer countries to date.
- The Financial Compliance Monitoring Section also contributed to establishing platforms for building capacity with international partners, such as the European Union, United Kingdom, and United States, by providing more than 12 technical training workshops for national authorities in which more than 2,000 participants from internal and external financial institutions, as well as members of designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs), participated. They expressed great benefit from external partners’ experiences, especially with regards to combating trade-based money laundering, strengthening investigations through advanced techniques for data analysis, and combating arms proliferation.
- These efforts resulted in the launch of a historic and first-of-its-kind partnership between the UAE and UK to combat illicit financial flows in September 2021. The Structural Dialogue between the UAE and the European Union was also established in July 2020 and has held three meetings to date.
In a separate context, during the plenary sessions, the UAE expressed its support for the candidacy of the Russian Federation to become an Observer of MENAFATF, stressing its aspiration for MENAFATF to benefit from the vast and successful Russian experience and expertise in the field of combating money laundering and terrorist financing.
Hamid Al Zaabi, the Director-General of the Executive Office for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing, said: “At the 32nd Plenary in June, MENAFATF raised the technical compliance assessment of the UAE in three important recommendations for combating money laundering and terrorist financing. Now, the 33rd Plenary offered a welcome opportunity to update MENAFATF on the further progress the UAE is making. The re-rating achievement and latest updates we have shared are a direct reflection of the progress the UAE is making as it advances its national financial crime compliance framework and collaborates with partners on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing measures in the region and around the world.”
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation