Dubai: The initiative of the UAE Central Bank to establish a registration and supervisory system for hawala brokers to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing has been eliciting some response from the target group in the past few years, according a top official of the bank.

Speaking at the Money Transfer Dubai Conference 2008 yesterday, Abdul Rahim Mohammad Al Awadi, assistant executive director and head of anti-money laundering and suspicious cases unit of the UAE, said the number of applicants to obtain a hawaladar (hawala broker) certificate reached 369, of which 265 were issued the certificate and the remaining 104 are in the process of compliance requirements.

The Hawala Regulation System was put in place following the international co-nference on hawala in may 2002 and the Abu Dhabi Declaration on Hawala.

The central bank, according to Al Awadi, has been holding regular meetings with the hawala brokers urging them of the importance of the sound application of the system and the need to report suspicioustransactions to the bank.

Sudhir Kumar Shetty, chief operating officer, Global Operations, UAE Exchange puts hawala transactions in the Gulf to 5 per cent as against 95 per cent by the formal channels. "Ten or 15 years ago, Hawala thrived because it used to be faster and it is used cheaper," he points out.