UAE welcomes US Treasury delegation to discuss combatting money laundering and terrorist financing

UAE welcomes US Treasury delegation to discuss combatting money laundering and terrorist financing

ABU DHABI, 8th July 2021 (WAM) – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) welcomed a US Department of the Treasury delegation led by Paul Ahern, Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, to discuss a range of issues related to anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT).

During the visit, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Chair of the Higher Committee Overseeing the National Strategy on AML/CFT, held discussions with Ahern.

Ahern also had an opportunity to engage in meetings with Ahmed Al Sayegh, Minister of State, Khaled Mohamed Balama Al Tameemi, Governor of the Central Bank, and senior officials from UAE supervisory and regulatory agencies.

During these meetings, UAE officials updated the US Treasury delegation on the various initiatives and advancements taken by the UAE to improve the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime, including the establishment of the Executive Office for AML-CFT and the ongoing work of the National Committee for AML/CFT.

Discussions broadly focused on the UAE’s initiatives and advancements to improve its AML/CFT regime and the work being undertaken by the six AML/CFT National Sub-Committees, including: - An overview of the UAE’s AML/CFT National Strategy (2020-2023).

- The steps taken to enhance private sector outreach on AML/CFT issues, including recent targeted engagements for senior executives of Financial Institutions and Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions, and the establishment and launch of a long-term Public Private Partnership framework.

- The ongoing efforts of financial supervisors to effectively mitigate money laundering and terrorist financing risks.

- How the Central Bank and the Financial Intelligence Unit are working increasingly closer with financial institutions to facilitate the reporting of suspicious transactions.

- An update on progress on the implementation of regulations pertaining to beneficial ownership and the National Economic Register.

- An overview of recent guidance and enforcement actions undertaken relating to Designated Non-Financial Business and Professions (DNFBPs).

- How the UAE is approaching advancements in the use of virtual assets and the regulatory steps being implemented to ensure international compliance requirements are being met.

Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh said: "It was a pleasure to welcome the US Treasury delegation. Strengthening the UAE’s AML/CFT framework is a critical national priority and is a central focus of the UAE leadership. The UAE government has invested significantly in building an effective system to combat money laundering and terrorist financing and is actively deepening the dialogue between the public and private sectors. It is a privilege to explain the significant progress being made to our international partners, who we are committed to working closely with as we look to safeguard the integrity of the financial system."

The US Department of the Treasury visit builds off a number of earlier engagements which reflect the importance accorded to AML/CFT issues under the US-UAE bilateral relationship.

The eighth United States-UAE Economic Policy Dialogue, co-chaired by MoFAIC’s Assistant Minister for Economic and Trade Affairs Abdulnasser Alshaali and the US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Peter Haas, took place in Washington D.C. on 8 June 2021. During the meeting, UAE and US officials discussed the progress made by the UAE towards enhancing the effectiveness of its AML/CFT policy framework.

In March and April this year, MoFAIC welcomed officials from the US Government for a series of virtual meetings and workshops. These meetings form a main part of ongoing capacity-building technical engagements the UAE is organizing. Multiple institutions from across the UAE participated and benefited from the exchange of knowledge, techniques, and skills.

In October 2020, MoFAIC and the U.S. Departments of State and Treasury held a US-UAE Technical Session on Economic Sanctions and Money Laundering. The session discussed the Advisory to Counter Sanctions Evasion issued by the United States and the UAE’s National Strategy on AML/CFT (2020-2023).

The UAE Cabinet, chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, established the Executive Office of the Anti-Money Laundering to oversee the implementation of the UAE’s National AML/CFT Strategy and National Action Plan (NAP), the program of reforms designed to strengthen the UAE’s anti-financial crime system.

The Executive Office’s responsibilities include: - Improving national and international coordination and cooperation on AML/CFT issues at the policy and operational levels.

- Tackling money laundering and terrorist financing threats by working with regional and international groups, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Working Group on AML-CFT, G20, and the Financial Action Task Force. This will be done in conjunction with the National Committee for Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Illegal Organizations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC).

- Actively increasing information sharing between law enforcement agencies, supervisors, and the private sector.

- Exploring and enhancing legislation, in coordination with MOFAIC and relevant UAE entities, to further strengthen the UAE’s current AML/CFT framework.

- Coordinating with MOFAIC in ensuring that progress is accurately articulated and reflected to the Higher Committee on AML/CFT.