Abu Dhabi Global Market updates anti-money laundering rules

Out-Law News | 21 Feb 2019 | 3:16 pm | 1 min. read

Abu Dhabi's financial freezone, the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), has begun a public consultation on changes to its rules for tackling money laundering; terrorist financing and proliferation, and the financing of unlawful organisations.

The proposed revisions to the existing anti-money laundering regime follow on from a recent review of the UAE's federal laws on money laundering, terrorist financing and the financing of unlawful organisations. The consultation ends on 12 March 2019.

Financial regulation expert Marie Chowdhry of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: "This consultation closely follows changes made in 2018 to both the Federal UAE and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) anti-money laundering regimes, and is occurring at the same time that the UAE is being assessed by the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – anticipated to take place in 2019."

"The changes proposed by the ADGM represent an important step forward in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism in the freezone," she said.

The enhancements proposed by the ADGM are closely aligned with the recently-revised UAE Federal anti-money laundering legislation and recommendations from the FATF, the inter-governmental body which overseas international measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. A planned 'mutual evaluation' by the FATF of the UAE's compliance with its recommendations is scheduled to take place in mid-2019.

Among the main changes proposed in the consultation paper are clarifying the status of the ADGM's Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) as the appropriate supervisory authority; and amending the definition of 'beneficial owner' and codifying beneficial ownership identification and verification requirements in line with the FATF recommendations.

The consultation proposes adopting the term 'designated non-financial businesses and professions' (DNFBPs) in the FSRA AML rulebook. The FSRA would be given the power to register and supervise DNFBPs, and to suspend or withdraw their commercial licenses where necessary.  This closely follows the approach applied in the recently updated federal and DIFC AML regimes.

The ADGM has also proposed changes to business and customer risk assessments and customer due diligence requirements. Regulated firms and other 'relevant persons' would also be required to submit annual AML returns to the FSRA.