On June 7, 2021, the UAE Central Bank issued new guidance requiring all UAE financial institutions to file suspicious activity reports (SARs) or suspicious transaction reports (STRs) with the UAE’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) using the goAML portal within 35 calendar days of detection of any conduct that they reasonably suspect may be linked to money laundering, terror financing, or other criminal activity. By the end of the first 20 calendar days, a case investigator must have analyzed the alert or other indicator of suspicion, conducted any further investigation that may be necessary, and made an internal recommendation to the MLRO as to whether an SAR/STR filing is warranted. Also within those first 20 calendar days, the MLRO must have reviewed the case report, considered the recommendation, and finally dispositioned the alert or activity one way or the other. By the end of a further 15 calendar days, the MLRO must have filed an SAR/STR with the FIU in respect of anything determined to be suspicious. Note that these are maximum timeframes and UAE financial institutions are ultimately responsible under the local AML/CFT Law to report suspicious activity “without delay.”
Our new client alert summarizes the Central Bank’s new expectations around timely alert dispositioning and SAR/STR filings. Importantly, we also examine important guidance from the Central Bank regarding best practices for drafting SARs/STRs and recommended post-SAR/STR filing processes. Additionally, we cover the Central Bank’s warning to UAE financial institutions not to engage in defensive filings and, finally, we examine common typologies and red flag indicators of money laundering or terror financing in the UAE, as identified by the FIU.