The UAE has fined six companies Dh3.2 million ($871,000) for breaching provisions of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing law as the Arab world’s second-largest economy continues to rein in illegal financial activity.
The companies were fined following inspections by the Ministry of Economy to monitor the operations of designated non-financial businesses or professions that are subject to its supervision, state news agency Wam reported on Wednesday.
It did not name the companies that violated the law.
The designated non-financial businesses or professions include real estate agents and brokers, precious metals and gemstone dealers, auditors and corporate service providers.
A total of 15,000 non-financial businesses are monitored by the Ministry of Economy.
The companies were fined “for their failure to adhere to the internal policies and controls established to combat crime, engaging in suspicious business relationships, and failure to adopt necessary measures to limit the risks of crime in the field of work”, the report said.
Non-financial businesses also failed to strengthen AML procedures and report or monitor suspicious transactions, it added.
A total of 59 fines were levied on the companies for violating anti-money laundering regulations.
The UAE has made significant progress in combatting money laundering, terrorism financing and the proliferation of weapons over the past few years.
The country’s Financial Intelligence Unit — the central agency that works closely with authorities to determine links between possible proceeds of crime, money laundering or terrorist financing — reported a 51 per cent annual rise in the number of suspicious transaction reports (STRs) logged in the first quarter of this year.
The UAE seized and confiscated assets worth more than Dh4.73 billion in the 12 months through to the end of July.
Assets worth Dh2.54 billion were seized by authorities while assets worth Dh2.19 billion were confiscated in the one-year period, Hamid Al Zaabi, director general of the UAE’s Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing, told The National in an interview in October.
The UAE Central Bank has also been penalising exchange houses operating in the country for failing to achieve the appropriate levels of compliance with anti-money laundering regulations.
Earlier this month, the banking regulator imposed a fine of Dh1.92 million on an exchange house.
In July, the Central Bank penalised an exchange house for failing to achieve the appropriate levels of compliance with anti-money laundering regulations.
The banking regulator imposed a fine of Dh5.2 million against the exchange house in accordance with the law on anti-money laundering, combatting the financing of terrorism and illegal organisations, it said at the time.
Last year, the regulator also instructed all hawala providers — informal fund transfer agents operating outside the banking system — to register in an effort to strengthen the supervision of money transfers.
The UAE also introduced new reporting requirements for “certain real estate transactions” conducted in the country to fight money laundering and terrorism financing.