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Ministry of Economy & AML/CFT Executive Office hold workshop to develop auditing standards of company registration processes

The Ministry of Economy, in collaboration with the Executive Office of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism in the UAE, held an extensive two-day workshop for the country’s 42 company registrars, which includes all economic development services and the UAE’s commercial free zone authorities. The workshop, which also featured the participation of experts from the leading global business advisory services provider PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), was aimed at monitoring progress in the implementation of the objectives of the UAE’s company registrars operational plan that stems from the national AML/CFT Strategy and past phase’s national action plan.

H.E. Abdullah Sultan Al Fann Al Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary for the Monitoring & Following Up Sector at the Ministry of Economy and Chairman of the Company registrars committee, said that the UAE has made significant progress in developing and enabling anti-money laundering laws and legislation in the past, as per the directives of the wise leadership and in line with the targets and principles of the 50 in order to build a resilient and sustainable economic model that boasts the highest standards of transparency. He underlined that the country’s efforts in this direction are continuing in accordance with international best practices and in coordination with various global partners, thus ensuring

the achievement of the national action plan’s objectives and aligning with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) findings.

In turn, H.E. Hamid Saif Al Zaabi, Director General of the Executive Office, said: “The development of auditing standards for corporate registration is another proactive step taken by the UAE towards enabling the anti-money laundering system and raising compliance with FATF requirements, with a view to support the national economy and enhance its reputation at the international level. This training workshop is a new starting point in the review of company registration mechanisms and the auditing of beneficiary owner data, in accordance with the approach established by the Ministry of Economy to strengthen the UAE’s capacity to assess risks and develop suspicious transaction reporting guidance.”

In her speech on behalf of H.E. Al Shamsi, Safeya Hashim Al Safi, Director of the Anti-Money Laundering Department, Ministry of Economy and Vice Chairman of the Registrars Committee, said that the workshop forms part of the Ministry’s commitment to raise compliance and adherence to international requirements, in collaboration with its local and international partners and the private sector. These efforts will also help maintain the status and position of the national economy and its positive reputation in various global markets. She added that the Ministry continues to implement its strategic plans for achieving the highest standards of financial and commercial control and confronting unsound practices in business activities, thereby enhancing the global competitiveness of the national economy.

Furthermore, Al Safi noted that the workshop is a proactive step in reviewing registration mechanisms in accordance with the risk assessment approach and the development of suspicious transaction reporting guidance, as well as the ways to fulfil the requirements of the national AML/CFT Strategy. It is also an opportunity for all registrars to discuss the challenges they face and find direct solutions to them in accordance with the best experiences and practices, thereby saving time and effort. She also noted that the workshop

served as an ideal a platform for interaction and constructive work as one national team and underscored the continuing joint efforts to fully achieve the plan’s objectives and ensure the completion of all FATF outcome requirements.

The workshop’s participants explored ways to ascertain the level of delivery of initiatives and activities included in the UAE registrars operational plan that stems from the national AML/CFT Strategy and gained deeper understanding on each registrar’s role in the implementation of the plan and its linking to evidence and proofs. The workshop verified the extent to which licensing and registration authorities comply with the AML/CFT requirements, apart from discussing the strengths and weaknesses in addressing challenges for the timely completion of the national plan and to establish an integrated system in line with FATF standards.

In addition, the workshop delved deep into the requirements for mutual evaluation in accordance with FATF methodology, and reviewed global experiences and practices in the classification and assessment of risks and the application of the risk-based approach of registrars. The items of the operational plan were also reviewed by focusing on each initiative, its requirements, and the statistics required to achieve them, in addition to highlighting the achievements made so far by every single registrar.

The Ministry of Economy launched an operational action plan for the Committee of Corporate Registrars in the UAE in 2021 in collaboration with its partners to raise awareness levels of all facilities licensed by or registered under the Economic Development Departments and local licensing authorities and those operating in commercial free zones, on the need to submit their real beneficiary data to licensors, in order to avoid sanctions. As a result, the registration of data of 96% of companies registered within the country and commercial free zones has been achieved so far.

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