World News

UAE set to be put on money laundering watchdog's 'gray list,' report says

Key Points
  • The watchdog group's "gray list" is not as severe as its "black list," which currently includes North Korea and Iran.
  • The UAE is the financial hub of the Middle East, home to numerous international companies' headquarters.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on July 5, 2021.
Christopher Pike | Bloomberg | Getty Images

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental organization dedicated to combating money laundering and illicit cash flows, is set to put the United Arab Emirates on its "gray list" over concerns that the Gulf country isn't sufficiently stemming illegal financial activities.

The news was first reported by Bloomberg Thursday, citing three anonymous sources at the Paris-based FATF. The designation could come as soon as Friday.

The watchdog group's "gray list" is not as severe as its "black list," which currently includes North Korea and Iran. The former list means that the country is "actively working" with the FATF to deal with weaknesses in its systems to "counter money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing," but is under "increased monitoring" as it has not yet taken the necessary steps to fully tackle the problems. Other countries on the gray list include Pakistan, Turkey and Albania.

Commenting on the country's efforts to fight financial crime, the UAE's Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism said Friday: "The UAE takes its role in protecting the integrity of the global financial system extremely seriously and will work closely with the FATF to quickly remedy the areas of improvement identified. On this basis, the UAE will continue its ongoing efforts to identify, disrupt and punish criminals and illicit financial networks in line with FATF's findings and the UAE's National Action Plan, as well as through close coordination with our international partners."

The UAE is the financial hub of the Middle East, home to numerous international companies' headquarters, one of the world's busiest airports, and a roughly 90% expat population. Putting it on the gray list could be one of the most significant decisions the FATF has ever made, Bloomberg wrote.

Read the full report here.