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UAE to Set Up Anti-Money Laundering Bodies Amid Scrutiny

FILE: A view of a skyline in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 6, 2021. The UAE announced plans on Sunday to establish judicial bodies to prosecute money laundering and financial crime.

The United Arab Emirates announced plans on Sunday to establish judicial bodies to prosecute money laundering and financial crime following increased monitoring by a global watchdog dedicated to battling illicit cash flows.

The official WAM news agency reported that the UAE has approved a "proposal to establish federal prosecution entities specialized in economic crimes and money laundering."

It said the move "represents a first step towards investigating and cracking down on" shady financial transactions.

The proposal calls for the "creation of prosecution offices specialized in" illicit finance.

It comes more than a year after the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) added the UAE to a "grey list" of nations subject to greater oversight because of concerns over illicit finance.

The FATF listing in March 2022 came as a blow to the UAE's reputation as a major financial and business hub.

The watchdog has since upheld its decision, but a June report noted improved efforts in the UAE to tackle shortcomings.

The step announced on Sunday aims to enhance "the confidence of international investors in the UAE's business environment" and encourage "them to bring their businesses to the UAE," WAM said.

"The project's significance lies in its role in protecting the national economy and reducing the impact of economic and financial crimes," it added.

The resources-rich UAE has become a nexus connecting the Middle East, Europe, Central Asia and Asia. Dubai has the world's busiest airport in terms of international passenger traffic, and also one of the busiest seaports.

While the desert country has successfully diversified its economy rather than relying on oil, experts and international organizations have long criticized a failure to crack down on suspicious financial transactio

Senior US officials visited earlier this year for talks with UAE authorities, including the central bank, on the evasion of sanctions imposed on Russia and Iran, as well as money laundering.