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UAE Set to Exit FATF 'Grey List' in February

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is expected to be removed from the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) "grey list" in February, as reported by AML Intelligence citing sources at the FATF headquarters.

UAE Set to Exit FATF 'Grey List' in February

According to the report, last August, UAE's Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who chaired the Higher Committee Overseeing the National Strategy on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT), stated that "significant progress" had been made in efforts to be removed from the FATF's "grey list."


FATF President Raja Kamur had signaled in October that an on-site evaluation would take place before February 2024. Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, UAE Minister of State, welcomed this announcement, stating, "The UAE looks forward to welcoming the FATF assessment team to the UAE, and further demonstrating the enhanced and sustained effectiveness of our AML/ CFT framework."


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Khaled Mohammed Balama, Governor of the Central Bank of the UAE, and Chairman of the UAE National Anti Money Laundering and Combatting Financing of Terrorism and Financing of Illegal Organisations Committee, expressed the UAE's commitment to protecting the integrity of the global financial system. He noted, "The increased resources and expertise we have put in place underpin the UAE’s continued commitment to combatting economic crime and disrupting illicit networks, both at home and abroad."


Hamid AlZaabi, Director General of Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing, added, "The FATF announcement today recognizes the efforts made by various UAE authorities to satisfy the Action Plan. We will continue to work with our partners and stakeholders to fulfill our long-term sustainable AML/CFT plan."


The UAE had been placed on the FATF watchlist in March 2022, despite making "significant progress" since the adoption of its Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) in 2020. Although the country had "addressed or largely addressed" more than half of the key recommended actions, it was placed on the "grey list" for jurisdictions actively working to address "strategic deficiencies" in their regimes.


In response to the watchlist placement, the UAE submitted its latest report to FATF in November 2021. While sources indicated that the Gulf state had not reached "many of the thresholds needed" to escape the "grey listing," ongoing efforts were acknowledged.


A report published by FATF in 2020 indicated that the UAE had made "significant improvements to its AML/CFT system," but the impact on the effectiveness of the system was not fully evident at the time of the on-site visit. The report also highlighted the need for "fundamental and major improvements" across the UAE to demonstrate that the system cannot be used for money laundering, terrorist financing, or the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.


In response to the 2022 watchlist placement, the UAE's Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism reiterated the country's "strong commitment" to working closely with FATF to "address remaining areas of improvement" through its action plan. The office emphasized that the UAE's commitment to combating money laundering and counter-terrorism financing remains a "key pillar" supporting the country's status as an "attractive global business hub that operates in line with international standards."


In March 2022, H.E. Hamid Al Zaabi, Director of the UAE’s Executive Office of AML/CFT, affirmed the country's commitment to combatting financial crime and the global AML/CFT agenda.

By fLEXI tEAM


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