E.g., 08/17/2022
E.g., 08/17/2022

The UAE has taken steps to clear up concerns about money laundering in the region with new rules clamping down on illicit financial flows.

The Federal National Council on Wednesday passed a draft law aimed at combating money laundering and terrorism financing in line with international recommendations by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body. The UAE is a member of FATF through the GCC.

“We’ve identified that the UAE is one of the highest risk areas for money laundering,” said Ian Gomes, a partner and the regional head of advisory and markets at KPMG. “At the same time, the UAE is also one of the most proactive in taking steps to reduce the risk. The new legislation reinforces the integrity of its anti-money laundering framework.”

Money laundering is becoming an increasing area of focus for governments and companies as sanctions have widened against countries. US regulators have also been issuing hefty fines to banks falling foul of money laundering rules.

Under the new law, a national panel – made up of representatives from multiple government bodies – will be set up to oversee the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. The legislation also poses penalties for money launderers, including jail terms of up to 10 years, fines of up to Dh500,000, or both. Businesses face even harsher penalties, including fines ranging between Dh300,000 and Dh1 million.

Money laundering by an individual or company was criminalized in the UAE in 2002, while the Central Bank can also impose sanctions and revoke the license of banks falling foul of its anti-money laundering procedures. But the new legislation further beefs up the regulatory framework. It penalizes board members, managers and staff of companies that fail to report money laundering or terrorist financing carried out by their companies with a jail term of up to three years, a fine of up to Dh100,000, or both.

For the first time, whistleblowers voluntarily reporting suspected money laundering or terrorist financing will also be protected by law.

“Protection to whistleblowers and witnesses is important as previously these people may have been scared to come forward,” said Mr. Gomes.

He said the focus was now increasingly on banks to bolster their internal anti-money laundering rules, saying some in the region were “lagging behind” their international peers.

Globally, anti-money laundering costs are rising at an average rate of 53 per cent for banks, according to a KPMG survey released last week.

Bryan Stirewalt, managing director of supervision at the Dubai Financial Services Authority, said: “Every country in the world has vulnerabilities to criminal elements and illicit finance, and these vulnerabilities must be addressed in an effective manner. Without question, a comprehensive legal framework to identify and combat serious crimes and illicit financial gains benefits the economy and society as a whole.”




BRUSSELS, Belgium – The European Union and INTERPOL hosted in Brussels a two-day high-level workshop in order to express their joint commitment to suppressing maritime crime in all its forms.

The event brought together nearly 150 representatives from law enforcement, justice sectors, financial intelligence units and the private sector of more than 20 countries in piracy-affected regions.  It identified priorities for the EU and international bodies to better promote maritime governance and security, and enforce links between law enforcement and financial intelligence services.

Organized crime at sea manifests itself in a variety of ways: piracy and armed robbery at sea, a number of cross-border and organized crimes including seaborne trafficking of arms, narcotics and human beings, as well as illegal and unregulated fishing.  These crimes cost the global economy billions of euros, but of greater concern than the financial cost is the threat maritime crime poses to human security.  The growth in criminal groups, enriched by the proceeds of maritime crime, has caused an increase in violence and insecurity in a host of coastal nations.

While piracy may have dropped from the news headlines since the decline of Somali piracy, it remains a key global challenge.  The EU is therefore in the forefront of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) efforts this year as the chair of this international forum.  As Maciej Popowski, Deputy Executive Secretary General of the European External Action Service noted in his opening remarks, “while the EU is leading a prominent international naval effort to counter Somali piracy, Operation ATALANTA, a long term and sustainable response to the challenges of maritime crime will require hitting criminals where it hurts the most: their profits.” 

The EU and its member states have a critical role to play as this is not just a security challenge, but an essential part of the EU’s development engagement with key regions.  Marcus Cornaro, Deputy Director-General of the European Commission’s EuropeAid, noted that “we need to assist partner countries addressing the systemic economic and social factors that cause maritime crime, not only in the Horn of Africa, but also in other regions at risk such as the Gulf of Guinea and in South-East Asia.”

This must be a coordinated effort, with the EU and international community working in support of national and regional bodies in the affected regions.  INTERPOL President Mireille Ballestrazzi emphasized that “to participate effectively in the fight against maritime crime, we must anticipate the threats and respond in a coordinated manner.”

This conference was organized under the auspices of the Critical Maritime Routes programme, funded by the European Union.



ZURICH—Switzerland's Parliament is considering legislation that would expand its money-laundering laws to include officials from international sports bodies, including the International Olympic Committee.

On Wednesday, the legal committee of the Swiss lower house said it had backed a proposal by an upper-house panel to include executive members of international sports bodies in money-laundering legislation. The committee announced the decision on a parliamentary website.

Lawmakers in the lower house will debate the committee's recommendation sometime this year, most likely in September, according to a spokeswoman for the commission.

Switzerland is home to a host of international sports organization, including the Federation Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, the organizer of the World Cup. The Union of European Football Associations, or UEFA, and the IOC are also based in the Alpine nation.

FIFA, UEFA and the IOC didn't respond to requests for comment.

Switzerland, one of the world's biggest financial centers, has been clamping down on money laundering, most recently freezing the assets of 32 people linked to the ousted Ukrainian leader.

Last December, the Swiss cabinet extended a hold on more than three quarters of a billion dollars in Egyptian and Tunisian assets, including funds belonging to former Tunisian leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.


The Hong Kong government is expected to extend the law against money laundering – now applicable only to the financial sector – to lawyers, accountants, property agencies and jewelry shops, industry observers say.

If the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (Financial Institutions) Ordinance (AMLO) is extended to these sectors, the number of suspicious transactions they report is likely to increase, said Simon Deane, a partner at Deacons, one of Hong Kong’s oldest law firms.

“I would expect there to be a spike in the number of reports filed with the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit from some of these sectors, because they would be obliged by law to conduct client due diligence,” Deane said.

AMLO, which took effect on April 1, 2012, covers banks, securities companies and insurance firms, as well as money service operators (remittance agents and foreign exchange firms).

Deane said it is possible that the law will be extended to other sectors, like lawyers, property agents, jewelers and accountants.

The government appears to be willing to do so.

A spokeswoman for the Financial Services and Treasury Bureau said, “We will consider appropriate regulatory or legislative measures to enhance the anti-money-laundering and counter-financing-of-terrorism standards for non-financial businesses in Hong Kong.”

The government has been working closely with those in non-financial businesses, including lawyers, accountants, trust and company service providers, estate agents and dealers of jewelry, in implementing anti-money-laundering and counter-financing-of-terrorism measures, she said.

It is in “close dialogue with the relevant professional organizations, including intensive efforts in collaboration with these organizations, to enhance practitioners’ awareness about anti-money-laundering and counter-financing-of-terrorism [measures]. We will continue with these efforts,” the spokeswoman said.

AMLO may be extended to non-financial sectors in the medium to long term rather than the short term, because it will create extra costs for those sectors, said Wilson Lai, market manager at Wolters Kluwer.



Western countries have told Afghanistan its banks will be put on an international blacklist if it does not pass an anti-money laundering law within the next few weeks, the central bank governor told Reuters on Monday. 

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international body that sets standards on how countries combat money laundering, is due to decide at its meeting on June 22 on whether to blacklist Afghanistan.

That would cut Afghan banks off from most international financial institutions, causing a potentially devastating impact on the country’s already weak economy.

Afghan banks were dealt another blow last week when Chinese banks halted dollar transactions with most Afghan banks without warning, making it difficult for businesses to pay for imports.

“We will wait and see what the parliament will come up with,” central bank governor Noorullah Delawari told Reuters.

He said he had hoped Western countries would support Afghanistan’s bid to have the blacklist deadline delayed by the regulator because the country’s presidential elections are underway. This was ruled out by Western ambassadors on Sunday at an emergency meeting with the country’s top security advisor, the governor said.

Western officials say Afghanistan has had plenty of time to meet the deadline and decisions by the regulator cannot be delayed for legal reasons.

“I strongly encouraged the government to work closely together with parliament in the national interest of avoiding a financial crisis,” EU ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin told Reuters after the meeting, declining to comment on specific details.

“It can be - and should be done.” FATF has previously told Afghanistan to pass laws meeting global standards against money laundering and terrorist financing or face the blacklist at its June meeting. The central bank has drafted a law but it has been held up by discussions in cabinet for months, leading to some key provisions being removed from the draft.

As a result, in its current form even if it is passed, it will not save Afghanistan from the blacklist, the central bank and Western diplomats say. It is unclear why some provisions were removed. Diplomats and analysts say it is possible that certain provisions were removed by Afghan officials worried about being targeted by international money-laundering laws.

Afghan banks have been struggling since FATF put Afghanistan on a dark grey list early this year. They say the move has affected their ability to process transactions such as families sending money to students’ abroad.


Bangladesh--The central bank governor Dr. Atiur Rahman yesterday asked the anti money laundering cell of insurance companies to strictly comply with rules and monitor the suspicious transactions to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing He also suggested the cell to send the report of suspicious transactions, if any, immediately to the central bank for prompt action. He, however, said money laundering and terrorist financing is not an internal problem, rather it’s a global concern.
The governor was addressing a conference on ‘Anti Money Laundering for Insurance Companies’ at a city hotel on Sunday. Bangladesh Bank (BB) and Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (IDRA) jointly organized the conference.
Mere law can not check the problem of money laundering and terrorist financing, said the governor stressing the need for a joint effort of all concerned to fight against money laundering and terror financing form the country. He also highlighted the urgency for ensuring transparency and accountability in the country’s financial sector with a view to preventing money laundering and terrorist financing.
To reinforce the vigilance against money laundering and terrorist financing, the central bank has already introduced the software 'goAML', said Atiur. 
At present all banks, non-bank financial institutions and agencies submit cash transaction reports to the central bank through this software which, he said, helps the authority identify the suspicious transactions.
Addressing as the special guest, Banks and Financial Institutions Division (BFID) of Finance Ministry Secretary Dr. M Aslam Alam said the country has enough rules and regulations but proper implementation of those are not satisfactory. 
The policy makers are formulating laws one after another but somehow these are not exercised accordingly, claimed the secretary.
“Vested groups are very active and commit crimes whenever they find any chance, so we have to be alert to check the ill practice. We can not stop the happenings, but it is possible to check or reduce the offences”, said the finance secretary. 
He expected that the joint initiative could reduce the crime substantially. 
The country’s economy is now well connected with the global economy and it needs to attain the trust of the global society for further development, said the secretary. 
To get confidence of the global society, BFID secretary said, the central bank has already taken several initiatives to check the money laundering and terrorist financing from the year 2008. 
The risk of the money laundering and the terror financing is reduced substantially due to strict monitoring by central bank and BFID. 
The secretary underscored the need for automation of country’s insurance sector immediately to identify the suspicious transactions. 
He also suggested to install modern financial software to prevent the fake and suspicious transactions.
The conference was addressed among others by the Bangladesh Bank Deputy Governor Abu Hena Md Razi Hassan, Bangladesh Insurance Association President Shiek Kabir Hossain and Member of IDRA Md Quddus Khan. The IDRA Chairman M Shefaque Ahmed presided over the anti money laundering conference.




On May 8, India and Myanmar signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Border Cooperation. The MoU was signed by Gautam Mukhopadhaya, Indian ambassador to Myanmar, and Major General Kyaw Nyunt, deputy defense minister of Myanmar, in Nay Pyi Taw.

The MoU is intended to provide a framework for security cooperation and intelligence exchange between Indian and Myanmar security agencies. It provides for the conduct of coordinated patrols on the respective sides of the international border and the maritime boundary by the armed forces of the two countries. It provides for exchanging information and intelligence in the fight against insurgency, arms and drugs smuggling, human and wildlife trafficking between India and Myanmar. Both sides have also agreed to take steps to prevent illegal cross-border activities. The MoU specifies the level and frequency of meetings between the armed forces, drug control agencies and wildlife crime control agencies.

In a statement released by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, it was expressed that it is expected that this MoU will lead to enhanced and tangible cooperation between Indian and Myanmar security agencies in ensuring peace, stability and security along the long international land and maritime border between the two countries.

Ensuring security along the 1,643 km land border shared by India and Myanmar has been one of the most interminable problems facing the two countries. The entire border length touches Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Nagaland (215 km), Manipur (398 km) and Mizoram (510 km). This MoU is the latest in a string of such advances which have been recently pursued by India and Myanmar.

Some of the other steps taken in the direction of securing the border include contingents from the Assam Rifles being deployed for counter-insurgency and border guarding along this border. Of the sanctioned strength of 46 battalions, 31 battalions are for counter-insurgency and 15 are for border guarding role. They are mandated to check infiltration, smuggling of arms, ammunition, drugs, fake currency notes etc. Moreover, fencing work by India’s Border Roads Organization has been sanctioned and processed but is hotly contested by the local population, political parties of both India and Myanmar.

The MoU is intended to alleviate some of the border related issues like cross-border movement of militants, illegal arms and drugs which are some of the security problems emanating from the porous nature of the India-Myanmar land border clearly articulated by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Insurgency has been a major hindrance to life in the north-eastern region of India. Myanmar has been a ground in which groups like the United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) faction and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang), among others, are known to have set up bases. Additionally, checking infiltration, smuggling of arms, ammunition, drugs, fake currency notes are some of the issues high on the border security agenda, all of which find resonance in the MoU.

The MHA had previously noted that the border (Indo-Myanmar) permits Free Movement Regime (FMR), up to 16 km across the border, making it extremely porous. Although this relaxation is meant for the local people in the border area, it was being exploited by nefarious elements. Moreover, cannabis herbs, ganja and banned pseudoephedrine tablets are regularly seized by Assam Rifles personnel and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) officials when they are being smuggled to Myanmar.

Illegal trading has been a constant issue along the border as well. Lack of adequate infrastructural facilities at Moreh and Zokhawatar – the two designated points for normal trade and border trade respectively, and a restrictive trading list have adversely affected normal trade at Moreh and given rise to informal trade, which compounded and complicated the security issue further. The MoU is intended to enable this entire gamut of issues to be effectively handled and to the benefit of both countries as well as the local people along the border.

The MoU thus takes into account the need for promoting security cooperation with Myanmar. Myanmar is integral to India, given its geographic proximity as well as the cultural-historical linkages that bind the people of northeast India with their brethren in Myanmar. Undoubtedly the MoU underscores the need of the hour, which is to ensure security cooperation between the neighbors. However, it is missing a cultural component, which will go a long way in ensuring the support of those inhabiting the border areas in preventing security related disasters from occurring and in an overall manner as well.

The FMR should not be compromised, and other such benefits for the local border inhabitants are warranted to ensure that the life they live due to the security-bereft situation is somewhat offset by the local avenues for contact and cooperation among kindred inhabiting lands on both sides of the border. The MoU is a laudable effort as it is yet another step towards buttressing India-Myanmar ties, especially as Myanmar is also India’s only land bridge to Southeast Asia, and thereby to the dynamic and the potential economic cynosure of the world, the ASEAN. This underscores the importance of having a favorable overall relationship with Myanmar, especially where the land border is concerned.

Apart from being the gateway to the ASEAN, Myanmar is also the prism through which India is geographically compelled to ‘Look East’ or ‘Engage East’ for any fathomable progress in its ties with the countries of Southeast Asia and beyond. The MoU is impressive for the framework it generates to tackle security issues and it provides a basis for further cooperation between India and Myanmar in the cultural, economic and strategic avenues.


Abuja — NIGERIA has been rated first among the most compliant states in terms of implementing money laundering regulations.

The rating follows the Financial Intelligence Unit's (NFIU's) compliance with the Financial Action Task Force 40 + 9 Recommendations.

According to a NFIU statement the rating was the highpoint of deliberations at the 21 plenary sessions of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering (GIABA) in Niamey, Niger Republic.

The unit added that the accolade contradicts publication in section of the media alleging that the NFIU had been frozen out of the committee of global Financial Intelligence Units.

“One of such reports had alleged that the NFIU, an autonomous body domiciled within the EFCC, stand the risk of being suspended from the Egmont Group by June 1, 2014. This claim, in addition to the report that the NFIU has been disconnected from the Secured Web of the Egmont Group and cannot share intelligence with other Financial Intelligence Units around the world, is unfounded and patently false."

NFIU's membership of the Egmont Group was not under any threat.

“Indeed, the Unit has been discharging its obligations to the Group. The much touted disconnection of the NFIU from the Egmont Secured Web has also become a relic, as the Unit has since been re-connected to the ESW, with unfettered access to other 138 members of the Group”.

The unit added that the rating came after a report by a team from the Egmont Group that visited the NFIU to assess the situation in the aftermath of the controversial reported barricade of the Unit by armed security operatives in November 2013.

“The fact finding team upon the completion of its investigation, observed that the armed security presence did not in any way interfere with the operations of the Unit but that they were only stationed to ensure an orderly transition of FIU directors. The team therefore recommended that the NFIU be re- connected to the Egmont Secured Website.”


The Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the Organization of American States (OAS) will hold the XXXVIII Meeting of the Group of Experts for the Control of Money Laundering on May 22-23 at the headquarters of the hemispheric institution in Washington, DC.

In the meeting, the Sub-Working Groups on International Cooperation and Forfeiture, the Financial Intelligence Unit, and the Criminal Investigation Agency will analyze the follow-up on the recommendations carried out in the previous Meeting of the Group of Experts, held in Brasilia in September 2013.

The agenda also includes the presentation of the CICAD initiative for the development of a Legal Framework for International Cooperation for Confiscation and Asset Recovery, and the progress of the analysis requested from the working groups by the Group of Experts at the Brasilia meeting.

The Brazilian Minister of Justice and Chair of the CICAD’s Group of Experts for the Control of Money Laundering, Paulo Abrão, and the Executive Secretary of CICAD, Ambassador Paul Simons, will open the meeting. The inauguration will take place in the OAS General Secretariat building in Washington, DC, and will be open to the press.

Currently the Group of Experts is chaired by Brazil and the Vice-Chair is held by Uruguay.



Bank Negara expressed concern today that criminal activities in the money services business (MSB) could adversely impact socio-economic development, after Malaysia recorded an illicit outflow worth RM174 billion based on a Global Financial Integrity (GFI) report last year.

Speaking at the regional conference in Kuala Lumpur today, Bank Negara deputy governor Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim said MSB played a major role in developing the country’s economy and wealth.

“MSB plays an important role in supporting an inclusive financial system and easing economic transactions, which contribute to growth and wealth,” he said at Bank Negara today.

“If not managed well, transactions based on cash, global money senders and the customer verification process, could expose it to the threat of international money launderers.

"Failure to look into these risks would jeopardize the country’s socio-economic development," said Muhammad.

Some 300 MSB industry players attended Bank Negara’s regional conference, jointly organized by the World Bank and the Malaysian Association of Money Services Business (MAMSB).

MAMSB president Ramasamy Veeran said money changers and senders should be monitored as they were directly exposed to financial criminal activities.

“We are focused on the implementation of the system to prevent such activities from happening. Firstly, we teach them administration, secondly we use an online system that adheres to the standards and can be audited,” he said.

About RM174 billion was illegally siphoned out of Malaysia in 2011, making the country the fourth largest exporter of illicit capital that year after Russia, China and India, GFI revealed.

The Washington-based research and advocacy organization said crime, corruption, and tax evasion drained US$946.7 billion (RM3.05 trillion) from the developing world in 2011, up more than 13.7% from 2010 – when illicit financial outflows totaled US$832.4 billion.

But Putrajaya has dismissed the large figure, saying that 80% of it was due to trade mispricing, and not graft nor crime. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low said the high global ranking was normal due to its active international trade.

Muhammad today outlined three issues that must be focused on to curb money laundering, which were awareness among industry players on the risks of MSB, creating a credible and effective enforcement system, and promoting professionalism in the industry.



VATICAN CITY—The regulator overseeing the Vatican's financial institutions said on Monday there has been considerable improvement in transparency and the prevention of money laundering, but that more progress was needed.

The Holy See, pushed by Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, has introduced rules to meet international standards and end practices at its financial institutions, including the Vatican bank, that people both within and outside the church bureaucracy have described as opaque. A lack of transparency and scandals involving people tied to the Vatican's financial institutions have embarrassed the Catholic Church for decades.

"There have been substantial improvements and achievements to a well-functioning system set up to fight money laundering and financial crimes," said René Brülhart, director of the Financial Information Authority, or AIF, at a news conference to present the authority's 2013 annual report.

AIF registered 202 suspicious financial transactions in 2013, a jump from the six reported the year before. Most of these were regarding the Vatican bank or, as it is formally called, the Institute for the Works of Religion, or IOR. Five of the 202 transactions were sent to the Vatican prosecutors for further investigation, up from one in 2012.

"If we think there is meat on the bone we forward it to Vatican prosecutors," said Mr. Brülhart. "There's a strong commitment by the Holy See…to fighting the evils of money laundering."

Monday's annual report is only the second one ever published by the Vatican regulator. The report also showed a spike in the number of requests for information, both from the AIF to its international counterparts and from foreign regulators to the AIF, an outcome of new bilateral cooperation agreements with countries such as the U.S., Germany, and Italy.

The increase in suspicious transactions is a measure of the effectiveness of a system put in place to spot such activities, rather than an increase in wrongdoing in 2013, the AIF director said. The AIF, which was created in 2010 as part of the Vatican's first major effort to comply with international standards dealing with financial crimes, expects suspicious financial transactions to be "much, much lower" than last year's figure in the future, Mr. Brülhart said.

The Vatican seeks to turn a page on decades of scandals at IOR, whose origins go back to 1887. IOR President Ernst von Freyberg, who was appointed in one of Pope Benedict's last acts in February 2013, is transforming the bank as it plows through its almost 19,000 accounts to make sure they comply with anti-money-laundering regulations, while closing hundreds of accounts with no clear Vatican link.

Last month, Pope Francis ended speculation about whether the bank would be closed down, deciding that it should stay in operation to offer financial services to clients including the Swiss guards who protect the pope, priests, nuns and religious orders.

At the end of 2013, the Moneyval committee, a European anti-money-laundering watchdog, praised the Vatican for its improvements in cleaning up its opaque financial dealings, while asking for a tightening of the regulatory oversight of IOR. "No massive wrongdoings were found" at IOR, Mr. Brülhart said Monday.

AIF carried out its first on-site inspection of the Vatican bank this January, a process that lasted several weeks. The results showed "substantial progress made by IOR," Mr. Brülhart said.

He said that in coming weeks, the AIF will develop an action plan with IOR to address corrective steps needed at the bank to fully comply with international norms combating money laundering and terrorism financing, especially internal procedures directed at identifying such activities. "We are not perfect yet, we are not super good yet…we are going in the right direction and that is important," Mr. Brülhart said. "But there is still quite a bit to go."



Netherlands - The Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD) and the police have seized €10 million worth of general goods, property and bank balances in an international anti-whitewashing operation. The suspect is a 60-year old man from Rosmalen. 

The man, who the Public Prosecution Authority (OM) suspects has been whitewashing criminal assets since 2002, has not yet been arrested.

The man used a machine trade business as a cover, according to public prosecutor Wil Bollen. “On paper, he delivered machines in various countries. But in truth, it was about money- or drugs transporting.”

The OM thinks that the suspect kept the criminal assets at foreign trust offices. He pretended as though he had no access to the money, but the OM suspects that he pulled the strings behind the screens.

Authorities searched 25 homes and businesses in the Netherlands, Montenegro, Liechtenstein, Spain and Switzerland. It is thought that the investigation may still take another year.

Frans de Boer of the FIOD says that these kinds of investigations will happen more often in future. “We are focusing on the upper world, because we see that the hard criminal needs the upper world to run his criminal business. They work on the cutting edge of the underworld and the upper world.”


Over the past decade, Oman has issued a series of legislations to combat money laundering and terrorism financing, experts told Al-Shorfa.

The country's strategic geographical position -- overlooking three seas and the Strait of Hormuz-- exposes it to these threats, though to a lesser extent than other countries in the region because of its reserved openness to global capital markets and globalisation, said Haitham al-Salemi, vice president for business development and operations at the Oman-based Gulf Baader Capital Markets, an investment banking company.

"Oman still has a very good reputation in combating money laundering and terrorist financing," he told Al-Shorfa.

Al-Salemi attributed this to several factors, foremost among them are: the absence of "terrorist cells" and "suspicious or fake companies" from Oman, the country's adherence to traditional methods in banking and financial transactions as well as to a classical banking culture supported by a strict oversight system.

That service projects are primarily government funded, with limited international financing, also precludes money laundering and terrorism financing attempts, he said.

Muscat also has paid attention to financial and electronic security, enabling it to realize balanced economic growth, al-Salemi said.

Oman's Capital Market Authority and the UN regularly update lists of suspects to avoid the transfer of laundered money or funds to finance terrorism, he added.

The sultanate's Financial Intelligence Unit meets regularly with its counterparts in other countries to co-ordinate anti-money laundering efforts.

This includes meeting with the other 17 member countries of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (MENAFATF) to share experiences and information, as well as coordinating with the international financial intelligence units of the Egmont Group.



ABU DHABI // The FNC has made a number of amendments to its key money-laundering legislation. The name of the draft law has been changed to “the anti-money-laundering and combating the financing of terrorism” law. It was previously known as the “anti-money-laundering offences” law.

The first draft had included four activities that were considered criminal offences – transferring, depositing, transmitting or replacing money with the purpose of hiding or disguising its illicit origin. The FNC committee has added two more offences: saving or investing in illegal money.

The amendments aim to criminalise money laundering and to address some of the issues raised by International Monetary Fund experts in their evaluation report on the UAE’s system to combat the illegal practice.

The changes were made by the FNC’s Financial and Economic Affairs Committee yesterday.

Committee member Ali Al Nuami (Ajman), said: “The addition of ‘financing of terrorism’ covers the area the committee is trying to combat. Other countries have the same definition, therefore it is official and well known.”

The committee has also created a database to be used by the Central Bank’s Financial Information Unit to tackle money laundering.

The law will be discussed next week.




President Adly Mansour amended on Monday 12/5/2014 a number of provisions in anti-money laundering law.

The amended law was issued to put a legal timeframe and regulatory rules to confront money laundering in Egypt, said Presidential Spokesman Ambassador Ihab Badawy.

Under the law, a unit to confront money laundering and funding terrorism was established as an affiliate to the Central Bank of Egypt, he added.

Amendments made to the law would contribute to Egypt's abiding by the obligations imposed by international conventions, he concluded.



ABU DHABI // The FNC has made a number of amendments to its key money-laundering legislation. The name of the draft law has been changed to “the anti-money-laundering and combating the financing of terrorism” law. It was previously known as the “anti-money-laundering offences” law.

The first draft had included four activities that were considered criminal offences – transferring, depositing, transmitting or replacing money with the purpose of hiding or disguising its illicit origin. The FNC committee has added two more offences: saving or investing in illegal money.

The amendments aim to criminalise money laundering and to address some of the issues raised by International Monetary Fund experts in their evaluation report on the UAE’s system to combat the illegal practice.

The changes were made by the FNC’s Financial and Economic Affairs Committee yesterday.

Committee member Ali Al Nuami (Ajman), said: “The addition of ‘financing of terrorism’ covers the area the committee is trying to combat. Other countries have the same definition, therefore it is official and well known.”

The committee has also created a database to be used by the Central Bank’s Financial Information Unit to tackle money laundering.

The law will be discussed next week.



South Africa’s central bank fined the country’s four largest lenders a total of 125 million rand ($11.9 million) after finding deficiencies in their controls to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

The penalties for FirstRand Ltd. (FSR), Nedbank Group Ltd. (NED) and Barclays Plc (BARC)’s South African unit were 30 million rand, 25 million rand and 10 million rand respectively, the Pretoria-based South African Reserve Bank said in a statement today. The biggest penalty of 60 million rand was imposed on Standard Bank Group Ltd. (SBK), which was also fined by a U.K. regulator earlier this year.

While verifying customer details, maintaining records and managing and processing suspicious transactions were three deficiencies identified, the central bank said the fines don’t indicate the banks facilitated transactions involving money laundering and terrorist financing. Nedbank and Standard Bank also need better controls for detecting property associated with terrorists, the regulator said.

“It’s concerning the banks weren’t complying,” Tracy Brodziak, a banking analyst at Old Mutual Investment Group, said in a phone interview from Cape Town. “I don’t think it was intentional, but there were issues and the banks need to tighten up and make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

The seven-member FTSE/JSE Africa Banks Index rose 0.5 percent by the close of trading in Johannesburg, led by 0.7 percent gain in Barclays Africa shares.

Remedial Action

Standard Bank and Barclays’s Absa said they have taken steps to address the weaknesses identified by the central bank, while Nedbank said it has prepared a plan of remedial action. FirstRand said it was committed to resolving outstanding weaknesses, including anti-money laundering monitoring.

“The danger of not fulfilling compliance measures can open the door to criminals abusing our institutions,” Murray Michell, director of South Africa’s Financial Intelligence Centre, said in a separate statement.

The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority imposed a 7.6 million-pound ($12.8 million) penalty in January on Standard Bank after saying its London-based unit didn’t have adequate policies or procedures to protect corporate customers connected to political figures in relation to anti-money laundering.


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An international organization that sets standards for how countries combat money laundering said it has decided not to hold a planned meeting in Moscow next month due to the continuing Ukraine crisis.

A summit meeting of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was to be held in Moscow in June, in part because the group's current head is Vladimir Nechaev, chief of Russia's anti-money laundering agency.

However, on Sunday, national anti-money laundering agencies belonging to FATF received a notice from the group saying the meeting would be held in Paris instead.

"It became apparent that it would be difficult to ensure full attendance of FATF delegations at the scheduled plenary in Moscow but there was widespread support for the work of the FATF to continue uninterrupted," the announcement said.

The meeting will now take place during the week of June 22 to 27 at the Paris conference centre of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the announcement added.

Sources in both the U.S. and European governments said pressure to cancel the Moscow meeting or move it had been building since civil unrest erupted in Ukraine earlier this year and Russian forces took control of the Crimea region. The officials declined to speak about the matter on the record.

Moving the meeting out of Russia "is the most elegant solution for the FATF - when travelling to Moscow for an international meeting was unacceptable, while needing to preserve the technocrat posture and work of the anti-money laundering community," said former senior Treasury and White House official Juan Zarate.

A 2008 FATF assessment found that Russia, while mostly in line with the group's standards, needed to increase the number of investigations and prosecutions for money laundering and terrorism financing, and give supervisory authorities more power to place sanctions on people who do not comply.

For example, at the time Russia did not prohibit criminal ownership of financial institutions. Russia also needed to be more transparent about who had a controlling interest in companies and banks, and not allow people to open bank accounts anonymously or with made-up names, the assessment found.

But in October, FATF determined that Russia had done enough to improve its deficiencies, and regular follow-up was no longer required.



Other areas of cooperation include conducting training and outreach programs as well as upgrading skills of those entities that Sebi regulates.

Stock market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) is set to share intelligence on money laundering with the central agency for monitoring suspect financial transaction; the Financial Intelligence Unit-India (FIU-IND).

Sebi signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the same on May 02, according to a statement on the regulator's website.

Other areas of cooperation under the MoU include laying down reporting procedure under the Prevention of Money Laundering (PML) Rules, conducting training and outreach programs as well as upgrading skills of those entities that Sebi regulates.

Along with complying with each others' obligations as per applicable international standards; it also includes 'assessment of Anti-Money laundering/Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) risks and vulnerabilities in the capital market sector' and 'identification of red flag indicators for Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) in the capital market sector.'

The MoU was signed between R.K. Agarwal (Whole Time Member, Sebi) and Praveen K Tiwari, (Director, FIU-IND) at the Sebi Northern Regional Office in New Delhi.


Accra — GHANA Vice-President, Kwesi Amissah Arthur, says the government is undeterred in its fight against rising money laundering and terrorism financing.

According to him, the government would use all available resources to fight the scourges.

Arthur gave the assurance when a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), led by its Director General, Adama Coulibaly, called on him at the Flagstaff House in Accra.

Arthur told the delegation that President Mahama was committed to the ECOWAS project and had tasked the country's ministers who would chair the two committees in the GIABA to take their responsibilities seriously.

He also pledged Ghana's support to the work of GIABA.

Under GIABA, Ghana's Minister of Finance, by virtue of President John Mahama's position as the new ECOWAS Chairman, would chair the ministerial committee.

While observing the important role GIABA played in the sub-region, the Vice-President recalled with appreciation the support GIABA gave Ghana when it was graded as not doing enough against money laundering and anti-terrorism financing.

Meanwhile, Coulibaly congratulated President Mahama on his election as ECOWAS Chairman and pledged his outfit's support to the President in the discharge of his functions in the West African body.

He lauded Ghana for being a model of good institutional framework, an attribute he pointed out was worthy of emulation.

GIABA is an institution of ECOWAS responsible for facilitating the adoption and implementation of anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism in West Africa.