UAE unveils its removal from the FATF grey list 

A formidable $2 trillion annual menace casts its shadow over global communities, a threat that disregards borders and traverses the globe within seconds.

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While not novel, its evolution over more than a century has been relentless, with its sophistication constantly escalating, propelled by technological advancements and globalization. This borderless menace is none other than financial crime.

In the UAE, proactive measures are being taken to confront this digitally driven criminal era head-on. Significant strides have been made in recent years to bolster the nation's capacity to combat financial crime. The recent acknowledgment from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary, the global watchdog for money laundering and terrorist financing, is testament to this progress. The UAE's commitment to swiftly resolving identified strategic deficiencies, as outlined in the Action Plan, has led to its removal from the FATF's increased monitoring process, colloquially known as the "grey list."

Recognizing the gravity of this threat, the UAE reaffirmed its commitment in 2022 to fortify the effectiveness of its financial crime defenses. This commitment stems from the understanding that financial crime is a global issue necessitating international cooperation. Stakeholders ranging from policymakers and regulators to law enforcement agencies, financial intelligence units, and private sector entities all play pivotal roles in preventing financial crime, money laundering, and terrorist financing.

Through a comprehensive whole-of-government approach domestically and active coordination globally, the UAE facilitates swift information sharing among competent authorities, enhancing coverage and detection of illicit activities. The nation's collaboration extends beyond its borders, with 45 Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) agreements in place to facilitate cooperation in investigating and prosecuting criminal offenses and recovering the proceeds of financial crime.

Moreover, the UAE's active involvement in international bodies like FATF, particularly as a full member of MENAFATF and observer in the Eurasia and Asia Pacific Groups, underscores its commitment to global standards. Embracing cutting-edge methodologies such as the World Bank Group's approach in conducting the upcoming National Risk Assessment will further bolster the nation's understanding of its risk profile and aid in resource prioritization.

With the UAE taking about AED5.4 billion ($1.4 billion) between December 2021 and June 2023, mostly connected to cases of professional and trade-based money laundering, confiscation provides a concrete indicator of the efficacy of efforts to combat financial crime. Together with a 94% conviction rate from November 2022 to February 2023, this strong enforcement highlights the country's commitment to preserving its financial integrity.

Looking ahead, the UAE remains committed to continuous improvement, with the forthcoming launch of the National Strategy and Plan for 2024–2027. A cornerstone of these efforts will be the establishment of a statistics center by the Executive Office of AML/CTF to monitor progress meticulously against the plan. As the FATF's next Mutual Evaluation Report approaches in 2026, the UAE's vigilance in combating financial crime remains unwavering.

In the face of mounting threats to the global financial system, the UAE stands resolute in its commitment to remain agile, harnessing the power of technology and intelligence-led approaches to combat financial crime effectively. By staying ahead of illicit actors, the UAE endeavors to reclaim a portion of the trillions lost to financial crime annually, striving to establish itself as a leading global economy, a hub for international trade, and a safe haven for businesses.

In this relentless pursuit, the UAE aims to cement its position at the forefront of the fight against financial crime, fortifying its standing as one of the world's strongest and most respected economies.

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