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The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and the UAE’s Accountants & Auditors Association (AAA) have urged chartered accountants to use more professional scepticism in an effort to tackle money laundering.
The two organizations, in collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Economy, co-hosted an online panel discussion to guide firms on their AML compliance requirements as the UAE tries to strengthen the financial system’s integrity.
The expert panel concluded that the UAE has become more susceptible to illegal financial crime as a result of its status as a global center of commerce and finance. Both the public and commercial sectors must be attentive in reporting any shady economic conduct if they are to overcome this risk. In order to fulfill their obligation to act in the public’s best interests and serve as the primary line of defense in detecting and combating financial fraud, professional accountants as well as auditors were advised by the Ministry of Economy to implement thorough risk assessments.
The event featured the Middle East premiere of the ICAEW’s award-winning training movie “All Too Familiar.” The film investigates the level of trust that is still present in both professional and personal relationships, as well as whether or not trust is sufficient to combat financial crimes. It aims to shift perspectives and start conversations on the need for increased professional scepticism when dealing with threats of money laundering.
While professional scepticism, as well as due diligence, are important in the continuous struggle against money laundering activities, the speakers all acknowledged that trust plays a role in judgment. The UAE now mandates that registered accountants file a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) with the UAE Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) whenever there are discrepancies between financial accounts and the business’s readily apparent guidelines. By doing this, businesses can fulfill their AML legal duties without worrying about penalties or compromising their reputations.
Director of the AML Department, at the UAE Ministry of Economy, Safeya AlSafi said: “The UAE maintains a strong AML system in an effort to protect against the possibility of money laundering. We encourage our supervised firms and the general public to report actual or potential breaches of the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations and will continue to raise awareness of the importance of adhering to financial crime legislation.”
ICAEW Managing Director, International, Mark Billington said: “As the global business landscape grows more connected and complex, money laundering is taking increasingly diverse forms. We are encouraged to see the numerous affirmative steps the UAE is taking to combat money laundering, but it remains a significant risk to organizations in the country. Criminals are attracted to the accountancy sector to give legitimacy to businesses that are fronts for money laundering. As chartered accountants, we are responsible for acting in the public interest, and we must ensure the integrity of the accountancy sector is not compromised by enabling business activity that facilitates money laundering.”