The United Arab Emirates has advanced its national efforts to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism through the registration of beneficial ownership information in a unified database that will serve as a reference for stakeholders that include security agencies, police, and other enforcement bodies as they investigate financial crime. The database will also work to strengthen international cooperation by facilitating requests for information exchange by other countries to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

UAE augments efforts to counter money laundering

The beneficial owner is the person that owns or controls a company directly or indirectly by possessing more than 25 percent of the ownership rights of the company and 25 percent or more of the voting power of the company while maintaining the ability to recruit or dismiss most of the members of the board of directors.

Under Cabinet Decision No. 58 of 2020, failure to register beneficial ownership data results in penalties in line with international standards. Required information includes the name, gender, passport information, nationality, email, and residence address of the beneficial owner in question.

Hamid Al Zaabi, Director-General of the Executive Office to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, remarked, "Requirements to register beneficial ownership data bring the UAE one step closer to strengthening its anti-financial crime apparatus in line with international best practices. Ensuring compliance with the UAE’s regulatory system will increase transparency and prevent abuses from occurring, which in turn will advance the UAE’s leading role in regional and international efforts to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism wherever it occurs."

The registration of beneficial ownership data comes as part of the UAE’s commitment to combating financial crime as a priority of the country’s leadership. In February 2021, the UAE Cabinet approved the establishment of the Executive Office to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing to oversee the implementation of the UAE’s National AML/CFT Strategy and National Action Plan, the program of reforms designed to strengthen the UAE’s anti-financial crime system.

Al Zaabi was officially appointed the Director-General of the Executive Office, which reports directly to the Higher Committee Overseeing the UAE’s National AML/CFT Strategy, chaired by H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.