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UAE says ‘needs time to show effectiveness to exit Faft list’

Economy minister Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri said the UAE had managed to address many of the Faft’s 58 original concerns and had around 15 left

The UAE needs time to demonstrate the effectiveness and enforcement of policies introduced against financial crime before it can be removed from a global watchdog’s ‘grey’ list, the economy minister told Reuters.

The Financial Action Task Force (Faft) just over a year ago included the UAE on a list of jurisdictions subject to increased monitoring, known as its ‘grey’ list. The UAE responded by saying it was committed to working closely with Faft to improve.

“We have addressed many challenges. But what really needs to be seen now is a lot of effectiveness and I think that comes with time,” said Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri on the sidelines of the City Week conference in London.

Al Marri said the UAE had managed to address many of the Faft’s 58 original concerns, and had around 15 left.

“We’ve managed to close a couple of (them) and I think there are more to come in the next couple of months.”

The UAE has in recent years tightened regulations to overcome an image as a hotspot for illicit money.

Faft in February said the UAE had shown significant progress, in particular in cooperating with other countries on investigations.

In its 2020 evaluation Faft called for “fundamental and major improvements”, in particular on facilitating international anti-money laundering investigations, on managing risk in industries including real estate and precious stones and metal and on identifying suspicious transactions.

Al Marri said it was too early to say when the UAE would be removed from the list.

As part of the process, the Faft would need to visit the UAE. When that did occur, Al Marri said he was “very sure” the country would exit the list.

“We’re on track… there is a high leadership follow-up on the topic. We meet on a weekly basis,” he said, citing a range of steps taken to-date, including improved private sector training.

In 2021 the UAE founded an executive office for anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing after passing an anti-money laundering and terrorism financing law in 2018.