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UAE Central Bank Announces 14 Suspect Accounts Frozen

by Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

14 December 2001

The UAE Central Bank announced on Wednesday that following the release of the US Executive Orders detailing persons and organisations suspected of terrorist activity, 14 suspect accounts out of a total of 128 currently under investigation in the States have been frozen.

Abdul Rahim al-Awadi, the head of the Central Bank's inspection unit said earlier in the week that the move was taken 'in line with the UAE's decision to cooperate with international efforts to combat terrorism,' although he did not reveal whether the authorities were satisfied that the remaining 114 people on the US list did not have assets in the gulf region, or whether there were still ongoing investigations taking place.

Mr Awadi also announced that the Central Bank had taken several other measures in the crack down on terrorist financing and money laundering, including closer monitoring of fund transfers to UAE banks. 'The Central Bank is also working on a new system to declare funds carried by visitors to the UAE or through shipments and other couriers. The system will be implemented after discussion with customs officials,' he told an anti-money laundering seminar organised for the region's 47 commercial banks.

The new transfer rules, if approved, will mean that visitors to the Gulf will be obliged to declare funds in their possession of over Dh40,000 ($10,900), and that all postal shipments will have to be declared. Mr Awadi also revealed that the Central Bank intends to establish links between the Anti-Laundering Unit and all of the region's banks, and to set up a mechanism for exchange houses to identify and register clients remitting money to the country.

However, he was careful to reassure banking clients and investors that the standard of service offered by UAE banks and financial institutions would not be affected: 'Our measures are aimed at ensuring that no dirty money will find its way into or out of the UAE and I don't think they will have any effect on the economy, the free movement of capital or attracting investment,' he explained.

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