The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates (CBUAE) has fined 11 banks for failing to meet a deadline to improve their anti-money laundering (AML) and combatting terrorism financing (CTF) frameworks.

The fines imposed last week amount to around $12.5 million in total (dH 45.7m).

“The financial sanctions take into account the banks’ failures to achieve appropriate levels of compliance regarding their AML & Sanctions Compliance Frameworks as at the end of 2019” the bank’s statement said.

“All banks operating in the UAE have been allowed ample time by the CBUAE to remedy any shortcomings and were instructed in the middle of 2019 to ensure compliance by the end of that year, informing them that further shortcomings would result in penalties under the Federal Decree Law No. (20) of 2018 and its executive regulation.”

The UAE has been tightening its AML regulations and enforcement. Last year it instructed all hawala providers – informal funds transfer service providers for individuals utilising non-bank methods – to register with the central bank.

Last October the UAE’s Ministry of Justice suspended the licenses of 200 law firms for AML non-compliance. It subsequently fined seven law firms for continues breaches.

CBUAE also last week held its first Compliance Officers Forum, updating bank compliance officers on plans for national digitised Know Your Customer processes.