AML in the UAE: The Role of Financial Intelligence Units

The UAE established the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) as an independent authority for investigating financial crimes, frauds and suspicious transactions. Even though established in 1998, the FIU assumed its current identity with the issuance of the Federal Decree-Law No. (20) of 2018 on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism and Financing of Illegal Organisations (AML Law). As per the AML Law, the FIU operates as the national centre to receive Suspicious Transaction Reports (STR) and other information related to the money laundering and financing of terrorism.

Financial Institutions, Designated Non-finance Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs) and other entities under the AML-CFT obligation need to understand the powers and responsibilities of the FIU to ensure AML compliance in the UAE. In this article, we will guide FIs, and DNFBPs (real estate agents, dealers of precious metals and stones, auditors and trust & service providers) on the powers and responsibilities of the UAE FIU.

Responsibilities of Financial Intelligence Units

Article 42 of the AML Law has listed the responsibilities of the FIU as follows:

  1. Receiving STRs related to financial crimes from FIs and DNFBPs on the FIU’s approved templates. Studying, analysing and storing the received STRs in the FIU database.
  2. Requesting FIs, DNFBPs, and Competent Authorities to provide any additional information and documents related to the STRs and information received. Requesting any other information that it considers necessary to perform its duties such as information on customs disclosures, in the time and form specified by the FIU
  3. Carrying out operational analysis on STRs and other information using available and obtainable information, to identify specific targets, such as persons, funds, or criminal networks, track activities or specific Transactions, and determine the links between those targets, activities or transactions and potential proceeds of the money laundering crime
  4. Conducting strategic analysis using available and obtainable information, including data provided by Competent Authorities, to identify trends and patterns of the financial crime
  5. Providing the results of the analysis to FIs and DNFBPs to enhance the effectiveness of the measures for combating financial crime and detecting STRs
  6. Cooperating and coordinating with the Supervisory Authorities by disseminating the outcomes of its own analysis, specifically with respect to the quality of STRs, to ensure the FIs and DNFBPs comply with the procedures for combating ML-FT crime
  7. Sending the data related to the STRs, results of its analyses and other relevant data to Law Enforcement Authorities if it finds sufficient grounds to suspect a financial crime has been committed
  8. Providing the judiciary authorities and Law Enforcement Authorities with information on the financial crime and information it can obtain from foreign FIUs, spontaneously or upon request

Duties of Financial Intelligence Units at the International Level

Apart from its duties in the UAE, the FIU is also responsible for enforcing the AML regulations at the international level by working with foreign competent authorities. Consult with AML consultants in Dubai to know further. Below are the duties and responsibilities of the FIU at the international level:

  • The UAE FIU exchanges information with its foreign counterparts regarding STRs or any other information it can access in line with international agreements to which the UAE is a party or as per any MoU the FIU has entered into with its foreign counterparts
  • The UAE FIU will report to its foreign counterparts on the results of using the submitted information and analysis performed based on that information
  • The UAE FIU is responsible for following up on any developments on ML-FT crimes through the relevant regional and international organisations and bodies

Powers of the Financial Intelligence Unit

Apart from its core responsibilities, the FIU is entitled to certain powers with which it is expected to empower the UAE’s AML-CFT framework and policies. Article 41 of the UAE AML Law has set out the powers of the FIU as follows:

  1. Establish its departments and internal regulations for approval by the Central Bank’s Board of Directors
  2. Create a database or special register to hold any information and secure this information by establishing rules that govern information security and confidentiality
  3. Developing and providing courses to train its employees and any other authority inside or outside the UAE
  4. Conducting studies, research and preparing statistics related to ML-FT crimes and following up on such studies, research and statistics
  5. Preparing annual reports on FIU’s ML-FT combatting activities such as general analysis of STRs and notifications received as well as activities and trends of the crime, and preparing a brief of this report for dissemination

Comply with AML-CFT Laws through AML Consultants in Dubai, UAE

Understanding the responsibilities of the FIU is essential for FIs and DNFBPs to ensure AML compliance in the UAE. They might be required to deal with the FIU on many occasions, especially with regard to the STRs. AML consultants in Dubai such as Jitendra Chartered Accountants (JCA) can help the FIs and DNFBPs manage their STR submissions in compliance with the FIU requirements.

JCA is one of the top providers of AML consulting services in Dubai with a dedicated in-house compliance team. Our highly qualified team of AML consultants in Dubai is dedicated to ensuring you comply with the AML Law without incurring any penalty. Specifically, we provide the following AML services in the UAE:

  • Implementing AML Policy and Procedures
  • Assessment of tools and controls design
  • Review of current AML Policy
  • Panning of AML-CFT framework
  • AML audit and reporting
  • AML training for the staff
  • Assistance with goAML registration
  • AML penalty appeal services