Anti-money laundering body places UAE on global ‘grey’ list

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A global body focused on combating money laundering has placed the United Arab Emirates on its so-called “grey list” over concerns that the global trade hub is not doing enough to prevent criminals and militants from hiding wealth there.

Friday night’s decision by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force puts the United Arab Emirates, home to oil-rich Dubai and Abu Dhabi, on a list of 23 countries, including Jordan, Syria and Yemen.

Although it is not expected to harm business in the Emirates, a federation of seven emirates on the Arabian Peninsula home to a multitude of free economic zones and real estate businesses, it could damage the image. carefully managed and business-friendly in the country. Rating agencies and other financial institutions also view such a rating as a risk, which may affect loan interest rates.

While praising the UAE’s “significant progress”, the body known as FATF said more needed to be done. Already, the UAE has established a business registry and signed extradition agreements with other countries.

However, the UAE has long been known as a place where bags of cash, diamonds, gold and other valuables can be moved to and through. In recent years, the State Department had described “bulk money smuggling” as “a significant problem” in the Emirates.

A 2018 report by the Washington-based Center for Advanced Defense Studies, drawing on leaked Dubai property data, found that state-sanctioned war profiteers, terrorist financiers and drug traffickers States had used the city-state’s booming real estate market as a haven for their money.

Emirati officials on Twitter and its official WAM news agency rushed to reassure investors that the UAE remained a safe and regulated place to do business and would address international concerns.

“The UAE will continue its ongoing efforts to identify, disrupt and punish criminals and illicit financial networks in accordance with FATF findings and the UAE National Action Plan, as well as in close coordination with our international partners. “, the Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism said.

Senior Emirati diplomat Anwar Gargash wrote on Twitter that the country had “made significant progress in tackling financial crime”.

“As a key economic hub, we remain committed to strengthening strategic cooperation with our partners to address this global challenge,” he wrote.

___

Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

Comments are closed.