The goal is not to impose violations, but to ensure compliance. The Ministry of Economy (MoE) announced the extension of the deadline granted to Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs) to register in the systems approved for countering money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism, until the end of April 2021. The extension has been granted due to a large number of companies in the sector coming forward to register in the last days of the previous deadline, which expired on March 31, 2021. Furthermore, the unusual circumstances faced by companies and the business sector in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic has also been taken into consideration.
The Ministry explained that it is mandatory for the targeted companies, which include brokers and real estate agents, auditors, dealers of precious metals and gemstones, and corporate service providers, to register in the goAML system and the Automatic Reporting System for Sanctions Lists before the end of the new deadline. The registration in these systems can be done free of cost. After the registration, they should also take the specified measures to ensure full compliance with the requirements of Federal Law No. 20 of 2018 on anti-money laundering, combating the financing of terrorism and illegal organizations, and their implementing regulations and relevant decisions.
The Ministry called on the concerned companies to take advantage of the new extended period for registration to avoid the penalties and fines stipulated in the law, which will be imposed starting from May 1, 2021. Fines start from AED 50,000 and go up to AED 5 million, while the penalties for companies that fail to register could even lead to the revocation of the license or closure of the facility itself.
H.E. Abdullah Sultan Al Fan Al Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary for the Monitoring and Following-up Sector at the Ministry of Economy, explained that due to an increased levels of response from the DNFBPs identified for compulsory registration, the Ministry of Economy, in coordination with its partners from the relevant government entities, decided to extend the grace period granted to the target companies and give them more time until the end of the current month to complete the registration process. Once the registration process is complete, they should start taking the necessary legal measures to ensure full compliance with the requirements of the law and its implementing regulations.
H.E. continued: “The goal is not to impose violations, but to ensure compliance, and the decision was taken considering the conditions that various companies and business sectors are going through as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and its repercussions on a global scale.” He affirmed that the Ministry is keen to build a solid and positive relationship with the private sector based on the principle of partnership, cooperation and oversight, and is committed to its efforts to communicate and raise awareness. These efforts will form the foundations for enhancing the commitment of the concerned companies to the requirements of the law, and DNFBPs are major partners in the UAE’s efforts to counter money laundering, he noted. Therefore, they have a pivotal role in supporting government efforts to build a safe and stable economic environment free from money laundering and terrorism financing crimes.
Al Shamsi pointed out that many of the companies that belong to the sector’s four categories, which are agents, real estate brokers, auditors, dealers of precious metals and gemstones, and corporate service providers, showed a high level of awareness and commitment towards registration in the two systems. However, there is still a percentage of companies that have not registered in the two systems. The extension of the grace period is intended to give an additional opportunity for these companies to quickly register, avoid violations, and protect their business and investments from money laundering risks by complying with the requirements of government control.
Safeya Al Safi, Director of the Anti-Money Laundering Department at the Ministry of Economy, said that the extension of the grace period without penalizing for any violations before April 30, 2021, allows companies in the DNFBP sector subject to the Ministry’s control to fulfill their obligations and initiate registration in the goAML and the Automatic Reporting System for Sanctions Lists. In addition, it gives them enough time to initiate the adoption of the necessary measures, according to the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Financing of Illegal Organizations Law and its implementing regulations. She confirmed that the previous deadline witnessed wide interaction from the targeted companies, as the Ministry of Economy received more than 6,000 calls and inquiries during the month of March.