Article by :Arabian Woman
Combating money laundering is a hard task in every part of the world, but in the Middle East, where the dominant form of laundering is through legal and popular remittances, its proving far harder to get under control. Moves are being made, however, to clamp down, especially in the UAE, where popular opinion views laundering as a growing problem.
The UAE Central Bank has said it would step up its anti-money laundering and antiterrorist financing regulations to combat new methods used by criminals.
Sultan bin Nasser Al Suwaidi, governor of the Central Bank, admitted there are many suspicious cases relating to money laundering and terrorist financing in the UAE under investigation, and called for international cooperation in the fight, according to a report in a regional newspaper.
“It still poses a challenge. As we evolve and develop new regulations, criminals do change their ways and methods, and therefore it is a constant challenge,” he told reporters.
“We have to constantly develop safety nets to deal with the new methods of money launderers,” he said during a joint seminar on anti-money laundering efforts between the UAE and the UK.
Both countries also signed a MoU for intelligence sharing between their respective Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs).
Al Suwaidi said many cases relating to money laundering have come to light and they are under investigation. The most popular kind of laundering in this part of the
world is known as Hawala, and doesnʼt involve records that can be traced; instead, tokens - now no more than often passwords in an email - are sent from one country to another, telling a trusted confederate to deliver a given amount of local currency to
“There are two parties in such cases, one outside the country and one inside, and it can get confusing sometimes. Combating money laundering is a gradual process that will take years and joint efforts are needed.” “So international cooperation becomes extremely important,” he said without disclosing the exact number of cases under investigation. “The number of registered Hawaladhars has touched 185 but mostly blue-collar workers use this informal system of remittance and the amounts sent are not huge,” said Al Suwaidi. David Armond, Deputy Director of the UKs Serious Organised Crime Agency, said money laundering is a scourge that affects all major financial centres, including the UK, and that the government is working hard to combat this form of crime.
“Major financial centres worldwide face the problem of money laundering and the UK is also one of them, like the UAE which is becoming a bigger and bigger financial centre. Fighting this crime is an important part of the UK government's agenda, it is an important part of international efforts,” he said. An amendment to the law governing NGOs in the UAE is in the works, a Central Bank official said yesterday.
The law to govern and supervise NGOs exists from 1974 and that law has been amended many times. It is now in the process of being amended again in conformity with international requirements and the special recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), said Abdul Rahim Mohammad Al Awadi, Head of the Anti- Money Laundering and Suspicious Cases Unit in the UAE Central Bank. He did not specify the nature of amendment, stating that it is being handled now by the Ministry of Social Affairs. NGOs opening an account in any UAE bank must secure a declaration signed by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Al Awadi added.