Executive Office
Hamid Al Zaabi, Director-General of the Executive Office of the UAE Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: In a major step to combat money laundering and financing terrorism, the UAE Cabinet, chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, has approved the establishment of the Executive Office of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT).

The Executive Office will oversee the implementation of the UAE’s National AML/CFT Strategy and National Action Plan (NAP), the programme of reforms designed to strengthen the UAE’s anti-financial crime system.

Hamid Al Zaabi the Director-General of the Executive Office of the UAE, said the office will strengthen the UAE’s domestic defences against money laundering and terrorist financing while enabling effective enforcement.

The office will report directly to the Higher Committee overseeing the UAE’s National AML/CFT Strategy, chaired by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

“In light of the vision of the UAE’s leadership, and the guidance of the Chair of the Higher Committee overseeing the UAE’s National AML/CFT Strategy, the UAE takes its role in protecting the integrity of the global financial system extremely seriously,” Al Zaabi said during a virtual conference on Wednesday.

“The scale and complexity of financial crime has increased. So too has the UAE’s awareness and understanding of it. That is why the UAE is committed to taking action.”

He said that there will be a specialised court in Abu Dhabi on the federal level to look into money laundering and financing terrorism cases.

He pointed out that UAE Central Bank announced recently that it had sanctioned 11 banks in the UAE for failures to achieve appropriate levels of compliance with regards to AML/CFT and local compliance.

“The Executive Office is a reflection of the high-level political commitment to establishing and operating a sophisticated financial crime compliance system across all UAE entities,” added Al Zaabi.

The Executive Office will work as the primary national coordinating body on AML/CFT efforts within the UAE, holding a wide-ranging mandate to assist UAE AML/CFT related entities in enhancing efficiency to better address the country’s National Action Plan (NAP).

Al Zaabi said that they have 140 trainees at Abu Dhabi Global Market Academy for the anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism.

Executive Office’s responsibilities

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 Working Group on AMLCFT, 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 Organisations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC).

The office will also actively increase information sharing between law enforcement agencies, supervisors, and the private sector; explore and enhance legislation, in coordination with MoFAIC and relevant UAE entities, to further strengthen the UAE’s current AML/CFT framework; and coordinate with MoFAIC in ensuring that progress is accurately articulated and reflected to the Higher Committee on AML/CFT under the mandate of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed.