Rise in suspicious transactions

Suspicious transactions rose 25% in first five months

Financial firms in the UAE have reported a 25 per cent increase in "suspicious" transactions in the first five months of this year as the Gulf state steps up vigilance against money laundering, a senior central bank official said on Wednesday.

At least 1,221 suspicious transactions were reported as of the end May compared to 978 transactions reported during the same period last year, figures provided by the central bank showed.

In 2011, suspicious transactions reported totaled 2,576 compared to 2,781 in 2010, the central bank figures showed.

"If such transactions have increased, it means that there is more awareness, more understanding and more training and that is the main objective of our anti-money laundering efforts," Abdulrahim Mohamed al Awadi, executive director and head of the anti-money laundering unit told reporters.

"We have enhanced cooperation with companies and the international community to enable the exchange of information relating to money laundering and terrorist financing," he said after signing a memorandum of understanding with the Financial Intelligence Unit of Madagascar.

The suspicious transactions are investigated and appropriate action is taken by the authorities, he said, declining to elaborate.

The UAE, in line with other countries worldwide, stepped up efforts to combat money laundering and "terrorist" financing after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

The UAE has signed MoUs with 38 countries to cooperate and share information relating to money laundering and financing of militants.