UAE Earns a Spot on Global Gray List

April 26, 2022

Forget Darkmatter. This is a gray matter.

Where is the best place to stash ill-gotten gains? The Cayman Islands and Switzerland come to mind, and we have to admit the US is also in the running. But there is another big contender—the United Arab Emirates. The StarTribune reports, “Anti-Money-Laundering Body Puts UAE on Global ‘Gray’ List.” Writer Jon Gambrell tells us:

“A global body focused on fighting money laundering has placed the United Arab Emirates on its so-called ‘gray list’ over concerns that the global trade hub isn’t doing enough to stop criminals and militants from hiding wealth there. The decision late Friday night by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force [FATF] puts the UAE, home to Dubai and oil-rich Abu Dhabi, on a list of 23 countries including fellow Mideast nations Jordan, Syria and Yemen.”

Will the official censure grievously wound business in the country? Not by a long shot, though it might slightly tarnish its image and even affect interest rates. The FATF admits the UAE has made significant progress in fighting the problem but insists more must be done. Admittedly, the task was monumental from the start. We learn:

“The UAE long has been known as a place where bags of cash, diamonds, gold and other valuables can be moved into and through. In recent years, the State Department had described ‘bulk cash smuggling’ as ‘a significant problem’ in the Emirates. A 2018 report by the Washington-based Center for Advanced Defense Studies, relying on leaked Dubai property data, found that war profiteers, terror financiers and drug traffickers sanctioned by the U.S. had used the city-state’s boom-and-bust real estate market as a safe haven for their money.”

Is the government motivated to change its country’s ways? Yes, according to a statement from the Emirates’ Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism. That ponderously named body promises to continue its efforts to thwart and punish the bad actors. The country’s senior diplomat also chimed in on Twitter, pledging ever stronger cooperation with global partners to address the issue.

Cynthia Murrell, April 26, 2022


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