ABU DHABI, 20th September 2016 (WAM) – As a major regional financial centre, the UAE attaches great importance to combating financial crimes and maintaining economic security for the international community, said Mubarak Rashed Khamis Al Mansoori, Governor of the Central Bank of the UAE and Chairman of the National Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism Committee (NAMLCFTC) of the UAE, on Tuesday.

He was delivering the keynote address at the opening session of a conference between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United Kingdom (UK) on “Financial Crime and Recovery of the Proceeds of Crime” which began in Abu Dhabi.

The conference is being organised by the Anti-Money Laundering and Suspicious Cases Unit (AMLSCU) of the UAE’s Central Bank, in collaboration with The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the National Crime Agency (NCA) in the United Kingdom.

Also present during the opening session were Mark Sedwill CMG, Permanent Secretary at the UK Home Office, Philip Parham, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the UAE, and other Emirati and British officials.

The conference was a follow-up to the very successful workshop that was held in Dubai in 2012 jointly organised by the UAE and the UK authorities and key stakeholders, Mansoori said.

“Our objective is to continue to build on the momentum and benefit from the exchange of our experiences among partner countries to foster our knowledge on the best practices to combat financial crime and recover the proceeds of crime,” he added.

He further said that as part of UAE’s commitment in this regard, the country has signed and ratified the relevant United Nations Conventions and extended co-operation to its strategic partners to support the global initiatives in combating money laundering and financial terrorism.

Mansoori stated, “The UAE has criminalised money laundering vide Federal Law No. (4) of 2002 and has progressed to establish a set of standards and control mechanisms to encounter such crimes. The said law has been revised in 2014 in conformity with the FATF recommendations of 2012. As per the revised law, the UAE has a comprehensive range of instruments and measures for identifying, freezing and confiscating the relevant assets that have been identified as proceeds of crime, either domestic or transnational.

“Furthermore, UAE has signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with various countries to facilitate co-operation in combating criminal matters. In addition, the Anti-Money Laundering and Suspicious Cases Unit (AMLSCU) at the Central Bank has established and finalised MOUs with 43 counterpart (Financial Intelligence Units) FIUs and is in the process of signing more such MOUs with the relevant stakeholders to facilitate exchange of information on money laundering, terrorist financing and related crimes.”

Al Mansoori went on to say, “Without any doubt, money laundering crimes constitute an important international problem that warrants the commitments of the international community and therefore requires a concerted global approach along with a broad-based national approach to fight this threat. To that end, one of our priorities is to familiarise officials at the competent authorities in the UAE with the experiences and techniques applied by our partner countries in combating financial terrorism and preventing money launderers and criminals from enjoying the proceeds of their crimes.”

Highlighting its importance, Al Mansoori said the conference builds on these efforts to provide a continuation of the strategy and signify the determination of both the UAE and the UK authorities to identify the areas where the UAE can develop further co-operation and co-ordination and the issues that we need to focus on from the legal and operational perspectives to ensure the successful recovery of illegal assets.

“It is universally acknowledged that asset-tracing and its recovery is a complex and challenging process as many jurisdictions may be involved despite divergent laws and regulations and varying degrees of capacity to enforce actions. The problem is further complicated when the financial asset changes its form, such as being converted into property, shares or other disguised assets. It then becomes difficult to trace and recover,” Mansoori explained.

“We therefore need to have clarity of the issues involved in money laundering in order to identify the areas where the UAE can work together with our international partners more effectively to recover the proceeds generated from financial crimes. This conference is an important step to gather more momentum in that direction,” he said in conclusion.

Mark Sedwill gave a presentation about UK’s action plan on combating money laundering and financing of terrorism.

The two-day conference will see six working sessions, with different papers presented on the legal frameworks of the UAE and the UK, as well as the ways and means of sharing information related to the proceeds from financial crime, aiming to identify the best practical applications used in targeting and recovering the identified illegal proceeds.