UAE vows to fight corruption

There is no room for complacency in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing. (SUPPLIED)

The UAE said yesterday it has been in contact with other countries to sign agreements to combat corruption and tax evasion as part of an overall strategy to fight money laundering, corruption and other illegal practices.

Central Bank Governor Sultan bin Nasser Al Suwaidi declared the UAE's intention to keep up the fight against financial crimes and stressed that global co-operation was vital to win the war against such activities.

Addressing more than 500 delegates at an anti-laundering conference, which opened in the capital yesterday, Suwaidi said the UAE had been at the forefront of regional efforts to combat illegal financial activities.

He noted the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Central Bank was working actively in collaboration with similar units around the world to detect and find ways to counter financial crimes.

"Our FIU, in line with its strategy to actively co-operate with other FIUs and regulators, has written to competent authorities in certain countries to extend co-operation in matters of tax evasion and corruption. We in the UAE, welcome co-operation with any country in this regard," Suwaidi told the joint meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and FATF in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena-FATF), the first plenary joint meeting to be held in the region.

Suwaidi, Chairman of the UAE National Anti-Money Laundering Committee (NAMLC), gave no details of such deals but a Central Bank official reported last week that the UAE had already signed memoranda of understanding (MoU) with 22 countries and was expected to sign similar deals with 14 more countries and organisations this week as part of a plan to finalise 92 MoUs.

He said the UAE was working closely with neighbouring Gulf oil producers to fight money laundering and other illegal financial operations to protect "our countries and our financial systems from the dangers of these crimes".

"Anti-money laundering and countering of terrorism financing techniques have undergone radical changes. New technologies and products have brought new challenges with them," Suwaidi told the delegates from nearly 50 nations.

"We have to be aware of these emerging threats and challenges and exchange information to bolster defences. There is no room for complacency in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing. Constant vigilance and global co-operation is the key to winning the fight. FATF and regional bodies play a crucial role in enhancing global awareness against these crimes," he said.

Highlighting the UAE's efforts to combat the menace, Suwaidi said the measures included joining several regional and international organisations specialised in the fight against financial crimes, implementing all United Nations Security Council resolutions in this regard, complying with FATF recommendations, establishing legal frameworks to protect the financial and economic system, supporting global co-operation, enacting regulations and procedures to protect local commercial and financial institutions, as well as the society and civil establishments.

Addressing the conference, FATF President Paul Vlaanderen lauded the UAE's commitment to fight money laundering and financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

He said such a commitment supports the view that the threats the world was facing have not been erased despite the efforts undertaken by most countries.

"Much remains to be done globally and in FATF countries, as well as in this region," said Vlaanderen. We all know that the threat of money laundering and terrorism financing needs to be acknowledged first before it can be addressed as denial would only help the criminals."

"I am sure our meeting today is not only a clear sign of that acknowledgement but also of our readiness to give these issues the high priority they need. I would like to take this opportunity to call for more input from all members of FATF family into further developing the FATF standards, improving the quality of its implementation and safeguarding the integrity of the monitoring system."

Vlaanderen echoed Suwaidi's comments that the fight against money laundering and other illegal financial operations was a global issue.

"No country is free of money laundering and terrorism financing," he said. "And these are issues that can only be addressed through enduring close co-operation and collaboration on a world scale. This is our mission and this is why we are here this week. I am confident that with the global reach and the instruments that the FATF family has at its disposal, we will be able to improve today's achievements in a spirit of confidence and mutual understanding."

UAE's commitment

- Joining international and regional anti-money laundering and combating of terrorism financing efforts through accession and ratification of regional and international conventions and initiatives including 13 UN conventions on terrorism and three related amendments

- Implementing UN security council's resolutions regarding subjects and issues relating to money laundering crimes, terrorism financing and related crimes

- Implementing the FATF's 40 recommendations related to money laundering, the Special nine recommendations related to combating of terrorism and other related global initiatives

- Establishing appropriate legal frameworks to safeguard the UAE's economic security and ensure a proactive role in the international community's efforts to fight all crimes

- Supporting international and regional co-operation in the area of anti-laundering and counter terrorism financing 

- Being a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty, the UAE is fully committed to combating nuclear proliferation and therefore has endorsed the Global Initiative to Combating Nuclear Terrorism

- The UAE attaches great importance to training and therefore it has held several local and regional conferences and seminars to train experts, bankers and junior staff

 

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