UAE’s Latest Guidance To Address Unauthorized Digital Asset Usage

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has revealed its latest guidance to combat the use of unauthorized digital assets by digital assets providers in the country in order to ensure the integrity of the UAE’s financial system.

UAE’s Underscores Regulatory Guidance

The UAE‘s new guidance is aimed at educating licensed financial institutions (LFIs) and the broader public sector on the danger involved with unlicensed virtual asset service providers – which has been placed under Federal Law No. (20) of the 2018 Decree on Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT), Illegal Organizations, and Anti-Money Laundering (AML).

Mohamed Balama, Governor of the Central Bank of UAE stated that the strategy was unveiled amidst the increased access of virtual assets through digital channels.

“The new guidance on combating the use of unlicensed virtual asset service providers comes at a time when virtual assets become more accessible through digital channels,” Khaled stated.

The guide was issued by the UAE and the National Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism and Financing of Illegal Organizations Committee (NAMLCFTC). The decision corresponds with the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) regulatory guidelines on virtual assets and service providers.

In accordance with the new guide, financial service providers must manage underlying risks involved with additional asset classes, exercise due diligence, and apply a methodical approach to digital assets. Notably, financial institutions in the UAE are asked to uncover transactions that they believe to be an attempt to utilize digital assets to evade sanctions.

It also encourages financial institutions to carefully observe questionable transactions in an effort to curb the activities of unregistered digital asset providers in the UAE.

Registered digital asset entities and designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs) are also subjected to this guide, which requires them to abide by the FATF’s outline on Red Flag indicators of money laundering and terrorist financing.

“The guidance provides the reporting entities including LFIs, Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs), and Licenced Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) with a comprehensive roadmap to enhancing their governance and operational processes,” the guide read.

Furthermore, it underscores how to recognize and handle new risks and governance matters. Meanwhile, it also highlights how crucial it is to comply with the regulatory tasks under AML legislation and obligations by the Supervisory Authorities.

New Guidance Backed With Penalties 

The country’s new guide is backed by penalties in case of non-adherence by crypto service providers. According to the order, failure to abide by the rules will be accountable to civil and criminal penalties.

Related Reading: Abu Dhabi’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Leads UAE’s Bitcoin Mining Expansion

It further states that financial entities that continue to operate with poor and unlicensed documents might be subject to enforcement action. These include unlicenced VASPs, poor AML/CFT, and Counter-Proliferation Financing controls.

“Furthermore, reporting entities that demonstrate wilful blindness in their dealings with unlicensed VASPs and have weak AML/CFT and Counter-Proliferation Financing controls may be subject to enforcement action,” the guide read.

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