UAE’s Counter-Terrorism Finance Initiatives: A Comprehensive Overview

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In March 2022, FATF, a global action task force desired to tackle money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing, positioned the UAE on its “grey list” having specified what it deemed to be strategic weaknesses in its systems to counter such criminal conduct.

In order to cope with this scenario, The UAE has made considerable progress in fighting money laundering, the financing of terrorism, and weapons proliferation over the past few years, enacting strict laws and issuing some regulations to clamp down on financial crime. The Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing was appointed to supervise the enforcement of the UAE’s National AML/CFT Strategy and the National Action Plan (NAP). Consequently, The UAE seized and impounded assets worth more than Dh1.3 billion ($354 million) from March to mid-July 2023, as it stepped up its fight against the financing of terrorism. The UAE also disseminated fines totaling Dh199 million in the first half of last year to fight money laundering, which exceeded the combined total for 2022 (Dh76.2 million), 2020 (Dh8.4 million), and 2019 (Dh800,000).

After that, the United Arab Emirates advanced counterterrorism efforts particularly in countering terrorist financing and in the international cooperation domain. The UAE added one individual and five entities to its list of persons and organizations supporting terrorism for their role in sustaining the Houthis in Yemen. The UAE remained a global leader in counter-terrorism narratives, supporting counter-terrorism education, and participating in and hosting international fora to encourage tolerance and coexistence.  The UAE continued valuable support for CT efforts against ISIS, and in Yemen against AQAP, including delivering support to local forces in CT operations.

Moreover, In a significant effort towards enhancing the nation’s capabilities in analyzing financial crimes, the UAE Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (EO AMLCTF) and Dubai Police have marked a Memorandum of Understanding to improve joint forces in fighting financial crimes. The official signing ceremony emerged on the sidelines of the third edition of the World Police Summit, held from 5-7 March at the World Trade Centre in Dubai.

The UAE also demonstrated an effective system to enforce targeted financial sanctions (TFS) without delay, significantly enhancing its ability to confiscate criminal proceeds and engage in international cooperation.  The UAE also provided additional resources to the FIU to maintain analysis and provide financial intelligence to law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to counter high-risk money laundering threats.

In response to their exit from FATF, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Head of the Higher Committee Overseeing the National Policy on Countering the Financing of Terrorism, voiced his gratitude to the various ministries, federal government mechanisms, and local entities whose collaborative efforts paved the way for this success. He stressed that these collaborative endeavors not only expedited the performance of the national strategy and action strategy but also aligned with the directions and aspirations of the UAE’s leadership to improve the country’s global standing as a leading economic, trading, and investment hub.

Sheikh Abdullah emphasized the UAE‘s robust economic growth on the global stage and highlighted the nation’s unwavering commitment to supporting international laws and conventions sought to preserve the integrity of the global financial system. He restated the UAE’s dedication to maintaining its position within the international financial community through comprehensive partnerships with global partners and organizations. This commitment includes the enforcement of severe legal and regulatory frameworks designed to combat financial crimes effectively.

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