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UAE Takes a Stand Against Illicit Finance

The UAE Higher Committee Overseeing the National Strategy on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) has launched two programmes to train and certify professionals on global compliance standards and procedures to fight illicit finance.

Under the programme, more than 140 professionals working alongside 36 federal and local competent authorities in the UAE will train to obtain their Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) certification – the global gold standard in AML certifications or their Certified Global Sanctions Specialist (CGSS) certification – a global programme aimed to equip professionals with the tools required to understand and interpret changing sanctions regimes.

Commenting on the launch of the programmes, His Excellency Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, UAE Minister of Economy, remarked: “Training AML/CFT practitioners is an essential step towards meeting the challenges posed by today’s global financial system and fulfilling the UAE’s national obligations in combating financial crime. Through the landmark partnership between ADGMA and ACAMS, the UAE is ensuring that professionals equipped with essential knowledge remain at the forefront of their field. We look forward to advancing this fruitful cooperation as we prepare the next generation of specialists in line with international best practices.”

Scott Liles, President and Managing Director of ACAMS, said: “This partnership is very timely, and allows us to work proactively with institutions in Abu Dhabi. The linchpin of the partnership is the delivery of the ACAMS Certification Programme Series which includes the gold-standard CAMS certification and the Certified Global Sanctions Specialist (CGSS).”

“We are honoured to have this opportunity to partner with the ADGMA to contribute to capacity-building and drive a culture of compliance in Abu Dhabi and the wider MENA region,” said Liles.

As part of their training, CAMS recipients will learn how to further safeguard institutions and other supervised entities from financial and reputational harm, including the implementation of a risk-based approach to AML/CFT policies and procedures, the development of a top-down compliance culture, and training on the evolving typologies and risks that come with illicit finance.

The CGSS programme will train mid- to senior-level professionals on the legal framework, regulatory expectations, and criminal typologies associated with the highly complex and rapidly changing sanctions space, including how to identify potential instances of sanctions evasion tied to trade finance and banking, and conduct due diligence reviews of high-risk entities and transactions.

Following a three-month training period, participants of both programmes will take an examination and, upon successful completion of this examination, will obtain one of two certifications based on global compliance standards and educational materials shaped by ACAMS subject-matter experts from around the world.

The launch of the two programmes is part of the UAE’s ongoing national initiative to combat money laundering and terrorist financing through public- and private-sector partnerships and strengthen the nation’s position as a regional banking, trade, and finance hub.

It is worth nothing that the establishment of the Executive Office of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) was approved by the UAE Cabinet last week. The office oversees the implementation of the UAE’s National AML/CFT Strategy and National Action Plan, the programme of reforms designed to strengthen the UAE’s anti-financial crime system. Both training programmes announced today are in line with the National Action Plan and the government’s strategies to enhance the skill sets of financial crime prevention professionals.

These announcements follows the enactment, by Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the award-winning International Financial Centre located in Abu Dhabi, of the Electronic Transactions Regulations 2021. The objective of these Regulations is to confirm that electronic signatures, contracts, records and documents are legally enforceable in ADGM as the traditional non-electronic (that is, physical) versions.

The need for the Regulations arises because legal concepts relating to signatures, contracts, records and documents have traditionally been based on the existence of a physical medium. However, these concepts need to be reconsidered in today’s ever-changing digital environment, particularly when taking into consideration the significant growth of the digital economy as well as the impact of COVID-19.

The Regulations are based on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Laws on Electronic Commerce. ADGM is only the third jurisdiction in the world to enact legislation to allow the use of transferable documents and instruments, such as promissory notes and cheques, in electronic form.

Dhaher Bin Dhaher Al Mheiri, CEO of the ADGM Registration Authority, said: “ADGM is proud to introduce such innovative legislation that will facilitate a strong framework for e-Commerce and electronic dealings within the ADGM community, in line with the highest global standards and best practice. The new Electronic Transactions Regulations 2021 demonstrate ADGM’s continued commitment to building a strong and sustainable International Financial Centre that promotes business growth of, and certainty for, our stakeholders in today’s digital economy.”

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