CBUAE issues new AML guidance for licensed financial institutions

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) has issued new guidance on anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) for its licensed financial institutions (LFIs) that offer services to the real estate and precious metals and stones sectors.

The guidance will assist the understanding and mitigation of risks as well as the implementation by LFIs of their statutory AML/CFT obligations, as outlined in Federal Decree-Law No. (20) of 2018 on AML/CFT and the Cabinet Decision No. (10) of 2019.  It also takes into account the standards issued by Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

“A critical part of CBUAE’s mandate is to ensure that all licensed financial institutions have a deep comprehension of their role in mitigating and addressing the risk of illicit activities in the UAE’s financial system,” Mr. Khaled Mohamed Balama, Governor of the CBUAE, said.

There is a strong awareness about AML rules in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), with 76 percent of institutions in the region stating they have an AML program in place, according to Refinitiv’s Financial Crime MENA survey.

As specified in the guidance, for all customer dealings, LFIs are required to perform appropriate customer due diligence and report any behavior that they suspect may be connected to money laundering, financing of terrorism or a criminal offense by submitting suspicious activity reports directly to the UAE’s Financial Intelligence Unit using the “goAML” portal.

LFIs providing services to real estate and precious metals and stones sectors specifically should assess the associated money laundering and terrorist financing risks and develop an effective AML/CFT program that encompasses a competent compliance officer and provides training for LFIs’ employees on said risks.

“This guidance serves as a key point of reference for those providing services to real estate and precious metals and stones sectors and is set to further increase the efficacy of licensed financial institutions in contributing to the stringent national efforts in the field of AML/CFT,” Mr. Balama said.

The UAE Ministry of Economy, which issues the relevant guidance, supervises real estate agents, brokers and dealers in precious metals and stones who are qualified as designated non-financial businesses and professions.

Related: UAE seeks public-private sector participation to combat financial crimes