x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Red flags are raised over money deals

The UAE's Central Bank received 2,711 tip-offs from insurers, banks, investment companies and other financial services firms last year - with video

Financial companies informed the Central Bank of 55 per cent more suspicious money transfers last year compared with 2009, the head of the regulator's anti-money laundering unit says.

The Central Bank received 2,711 tip-offs from insurers, banks, investment companies and other financial services companies last year, said Abdulrahim Mohamed al Awadi, an executive director of the Central Bank and the head of the anti-money laundering and suspicious cases unit. That compared with 1,750 reports in 2009.

The rise "shows the effectiveness" of efforts to educate financial companies about their responsibilities to report suspicious financial activity, Mr al Awadi said.

But it was not clear, however, whether the jump was due to greater vigilance or an upturn in money-laundering activity.

Moves to track and prosecute money laundering propagated globally after the terrorist attacks against the US on September 11 2001, as nations including the UAE enacted laws and increased monitoring of transactions suspected of financing terrorism.

The UAE passed a Federal law in 2002 covering the detection and reporting of suspicious transactions. Mr al Awadi's suspicious cases unit was launched in 2008.

"You all have a responsibility in partnership with the regulators in ensuring that the UAE financial system stays clean and protected from being abused by criminals, money launderers and terrorist financiers," he told a seminar for insurers and insurance brokers yesterday.

"The suspicious transaction reports submitted by all the reporting entities is therefore of utmost importance in our endeavours to combat money laundering and terrorist financing."

The seminar was the first of a series planned this year for the insurance, banking and investment sectors to update executives on developments in international rules for reporting money laundering.

As part of the GCC, the UAE is a member of the Financial Action Task Force, a global body that aims to stamp out terrorist financing and money laundering.

Insurance companies in the UAE have long been identifying and reporting suspicious transactions, Mr al Awadi said, but "they have to understand further what are the obligations required under the best practices worldwide".

 

afitch@thenational.ae