ABU DHABI, The Ministry of Economy (MoE) announced that it has begun the implementation of its inspection plan targeted at establishments belonging to the Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBP) category to ensure their compliance with the anti-money laundering and combating terrorism financing regulations.

These establishments are required to register in the government regulations approved for countering money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism before the end of the extended grace period that ends on April 30, 2021. The Ministry clarified that the punitive measures for violations of the regulations or failure to register in the goAML system and Automatic Reporting System for Sanctions Lists will come into effect from May 1, 2021.

The inspection campaigns target all categories of the DNFBPs subject to the supervision of the Ministry of Economy, and include brokers, real estate agents, auditors, dealers of precious metals and gemstones, and corporate service providers.

The campaigns - in addition to monitoring the commitment of the targeted enterprises to registering themselves in anti-money laundering regulations - will also focus on monitoring the targeted companies’ compliance with the other requirements of the provisions of Federal Law No. 20 of 2018 on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism and the financing of illegal organizations, its executive regulations and relevant decisions.

The most important among these requires the establishments to exercise due diligence measures towards clients, identify the true beneficiaries, report suspicious transactions, and adopt clear internal policies and controls to identify and avoid money laundering crimes risks.

Safeya Al Safi, Director of the Anti-Money Laundering Department at the Ministry of Economy, confirmed that the inspection campaign plan aims to ensure that the sector’s establishments follow the established regulations on anti-money laundering. Furthermore, it focuses on ensuring the integrity and transparency of commercial transactions within the DNFBPs sector, thereby addressing illegal and unsound financial practices and suspicious activities.

She indicated that in this context, the Ministry of Economy has appointed a new head of inspection campaigns to lead a series of field visits and office inspections on establishments belonging to the sector and to follow up on their compliance with the measures and procedures stipulated by the law.

Al Safi further explained that their compliance and registration in the systems contributes to the development of the UAE’s business environment, improving various indicators at the global level. This will positively impact the business sectors by enhancing confidence in the UAE economy and increasing investment flows, business growth and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

She underlined the need for companies to comply with and speed up registrations by taking advantage of the extension of the grace period until the end of April in order to avoid committing violations. The fines for violations start from AED50,000 and go up to AED 5 million and could even lead to the revocation of the license or the closure of the facility itself. The Ministry will start implementing penalties for the failure to register and adopt the necessary due diligence measures early next month (May 1, 2021), she said, indicating that the chief goal of these measures is to protect DNFBPs from becoming victims of the money laundering and terrorism financing crimes and not implementing penalties.

MoE had extended the deadline granted to companies in the DNFBP sector until the end of the current month of April 2021, due to the fact that large numbers of companies in the sector had turned up to register in the last days of the previous deadline, which ended on March 31, 2021. It also took into account the circumstances of companies and the business sector in general in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Economy provides - through its official website - all information and instructions for registration. It called on all targeted establishments to contact it through the Ministry's call center at 8001222 or via other official channels in case there are any inquiries related to registering in the two systems and fulfilling the required measures.

Source: Emirates News Agency