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08 June 2023

UAE begins enforcing cash declaration law

By Staff

Passengers arriving or leaving the UAE must declare their cash possession in case it exceeds Dh100,000 under a new anti-laundering law enforced by customs authorities on Thursday, the semi-official daily Alittihad said.

The new law replaced previous regulations setting the minimum funds to be declared at Dh40,000 and follows an agreement between the country’s customs authorities and the Central Bank, which is enforcing stringent measures to combat money laundering and terror funding.

“The UAE Federal Customs Authority (FCA) will began today enforcing the cash declaration system at all ports, airports and other land, sea and air outlets in the country… the new system involves a minimum sum of Dh100,000 in the form of cash, traveler cheques, bonds and other securities that can be converted into cash,” the paper said, quoting officials at the customs authority.

It said the new system is part of the anti-laundering measures and would not affect the country’s policy of allowing free movement of funds and capital.

Customs officials said they have already prepared forms for passengers who want to declare their cash possession. The form should include the passenger’s name and address, passport number, signature and declared funds.

The new regulations followed an agreement between the FCA and the Anti-Money Laundering and Suspicious Cases Unit (AMLSCU) at the Central Bank in late 2010, calling for stronger coordination between the two sides.

Officials have said the agreement would enhance cooperation between the two sides and help block any loophole in the enforcement of anti-laundering law.

While the deal means tighter declaration systems at customs points, they stressed that it would not harm the UAE’s policy of free capital transfer.

“The agreement demonstrates the commitment of AMLSCU to enhance cooperation with its domestic strategic partners to coordinate the efforts on encountering money laundering and combating terrorist financing and related crimes,” said Abdul Rahim Al Awadi, Executive Director and Head of AMLSCU.

“It will allow us to exchange information on all issues related money laundering and financing of terrorism…it is in line with international regulations that require nations to update their systems on a regular basis.”

Awadi said the UAE would remain committed to the declaration system it introduced three years ago, adding that the agreement would give a strong push that system. But he stressed this would not affect its liberal financial policies.

“We are continuously update this declaration system and regularly follow up international developments in this respect so we can block any loophole in the system…we are fully committed to this system,” he said.

“But I want to assure every one that this does not mean that if we ask for declaration, this means we are suspicious…..we just want to follow international standards in this regard…the UAE remains fully committed to its policy of free movement of capital and transfer of funds.”

The UAE is among the first Arab countries that have enforced strict anti-laundering laws and thousands of such cases have been detected. Officials said such laws would be updated regularly given the country’s open economy.

In the first quarter of 2011, UAE banks detected 479 money laundering cases and reported them to the concerned authorities, according to the central bank.

Its figures showed the total suspicious money laundering and terror funding cases stood at 572 in the first quarter, most of which were detected and report by the country’s 23 national banks and 28 foreign units.

In 2010, a record high number of 2,711 laundering cases were reported in the UAE, a whopping increase of around 55 per cent over 2009.