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In the past 12 months, the United Arab Emirates has seized assets worth Dh4.73 billion ($1.29bn) as a part of its efforts to combat financial crimes.
According to the director general of the UAE’s Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), Hamid Al Zaabi, UAE authorities have grabbed holdings of around Dh2.54bn.
Dh2.19bn worth of assets has been frozen in the time period of one year. The country prioritizes AML/CFT as a part of its endeavors to meet national strategy standards.
“The UAE takes these AML/CFT matters extremely seriously, and this is the reason why it came up with the idea of the executive office to take the lead [role] in the system and focus on shaping policies and strategies, cooperation and engagement,” said Mr. Al Zaabi.
“So, we now have a department working on domestic compliance and coordination and a department that focuses on international cooperation, AML/CFT partnerships, and communication.”
Over the past few years, the UAE has progressed significantly in fighting against financial crimes. A 51 percent year-on-year rise in suspicious transaction reports (STRs) has been reported this year by the Financial Intelligence Unit of the country. According to the executive office, the financial sector, which is considered the main pillar of the UAE economy, has contributed a wide range of these STRs.
With total actions of enforcement exceeding Dh42m, a prominent rise in the AML/CFT implementation was seen in 2021. UAE authorities seized Dh15m worth of gold and precious metals in the confiscated assets last year.
Forty people have been jailed over financial crimes, and a fine worth Dh860m has been handed down for money laundering and fraud. In June, Sanjay Shahs, who is a hedge fund trader, was arrested by Dubai Police on an international warrant issued by Denmark authorities.
According to the tax authority of Denmark, Skat said that British citizen Mr. Shah was the main player in a fraudulent scheme in which foreign businesses pretended to be shareowners in Danish companies before claiming tax refunds for which they were actually not eligible.
“The EO priority is to develop [strategies] and follow up with all the government entities in the UAE on its Project Portfolio Management system (PPM), which is also used by a number of UAE ministers to have direct access to progress reports,” Mr. Al Zaabi said.
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