Middle East

UAE launches UN-developed platform to curb money laundering

The UAE has become the first country in the Gulf region to launch 'goAML', an anti-money laundering platform developed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime which aims to step up intelligence, identify complex, organised criminal activities and curb them. The platform has been launched at the Central Bank's headquarters in Abu Dhabi and will support the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) by elevating its IT infrastructure and strengthening a countrywide cooperation against criminal activity. All financial institutions in the UAE now have to report any suspicious transactions through the platform, and failure to do so will result in penalties being imposed on those non-complying institutions.

FSRA enhances guidance on regulation of crypto asset activities

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM)

has enhanced its 'Guidance for the Regulation of Crypto Asset Activities' in response to the rapidly changing crypto environment. In particular, the enhanced guidance includes: (i) confirmation that Stablecoins that are fully backed by fiat currencies will be treated as a digital representation of money; (ii) clarification as to which types of crypto-asset custody activities can be undertaken; (iii) governance and control expectations for crypto-asset exchanges and license holders; and (iv) further clarity on the use of new regulatory and surveillance technologies.

DFSA make amendments to AML Rulebook

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) Board has amended the AML Rulebook in order to maintain consistency with new Federal AML legislation. The DFSA is the independent regulator of financial services conducted in or from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Whilst most of these amendments are relatively minor, notice should be given to changes such as the definition of 'money laundering' no longer including terrorist financing, and further guidance being given on topics such as fictitious and anonymous accounts.

DFSA fines Abraaj Group USD 315 million for deceiving investors and the Regulator

The DFSA has announced that it has imposed fines of USD 299,300,000 and USD 15,275,925 on Abraaj Investment Management Limited and Abraaj Capital Limited respectively for carrying out unauthorised financial activities within and from the DIFC, actively misleading and deceiving investors over an extended period, misusing investor funds and providing misleading financial information to investors and the DFSA. The DFSA began its investigation in January 2018 and reached its decision after taking into account the firms' circumstances and corresponding implications of enforcing the fines for fund investors.

Ex-Emirati chairman and expat CEO fined EUR300 million in UAE

A former chairman of a public department in Abu Dhabi and the former CEO of the same entity have been jointly ordered to pay EUR300 million in fines and refunds for embezzling public funds. The two men have also been sentenced to 15 years and 10 years in jail respectively. Documents revealed that the Emirati chairman who was heading the government department misappropriated EUR149 million after he sold out shares he owned in a private real estate firm to the same public entity he headed, at higher prices compared to the market value of the shares. The pair lied and told the department's board of directors that the shares belonged to a certain private company. The Emirati defendant was charged with abusing public office, misappropriating public funds and causing financial harm to the public department he was heading. The second defendant was charged with facilitating the misappropriation of public funds, abuse of public office and harming the interests of the government department.

Fake currency worth Dh12.2 million seized in Dubai

Two men have had their jail sentences reduced by the Dubai Court of Appeal, having been found guilty of bringing counterfeit banknotes into Dubai from Italy worth Dh12.2 million. The men were initially sentenced to three years in jail and a Dh200,000 fine, but the jail sentence has been reduced to one year by the appeal court. Both men will be deported after serving their time in prison. The men were found guilty of smuggling and possessing counterfeited currency for promotional purposes.

Four on trial for Dh1.2 million fake property development scam in Dubai

A businessman has gone on trial charged with deceiving customers into buying apartments in a fake property development in Dubai. The Afghan developer and his three employees allegedly published false advertisements through property agents and forged documents to convince customers that the project had been registered with the Land Department. Three customers subsequently made advance payments totalling Dh1.2 million. The four defendants have been charged with forging e-documents, using them to sell units in a fake project and illegally obtaining cash from customers.