Designated Non-financial Businesses and Professionals (DNFBP) role in Anti-money Laundering (AML)

The UAE has the most attractive trade regimes in the Middle East region, making it a global hub. As a committed member of the International Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the UAE has displayed readiness for anti-money laundering (AML) and counter financing of terrorism (CFT). The UAE taken proactive steps in an effort to monitor the illegal funds and align with international best practices.

Federal Law No 20 of 2018 on Anti Money Laundering (AML) was introduced in the UAE for combating the financing of terrorism and of illegal organizations.

The regulatory authorities under the AML set up are:

  • Ministry of Economy
  • The Central Bank of the UAE
  • Securities and Commodities Authority
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Insurance Authority
  • Dubai Financial Services Authority
  • Financial Services Regulator Authority in Abu Dhabi Global Market

The law has enforced great responsibilities on Designated Non- Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBP) to help tackle money laundering.

Who is DNFBP?

Anyone engaged in the following trade or business activities would be considered a DNFBP:

  • Brokers and real estate agents
  • Dealers in precious metals and precious stones
  • Lawyers, notaries, and other independent legal professionals and independent accountants
  • Providers of corporate services and trusts

The UAE’s Ministry of Economy (MoE) is entrusted with the responsibility to supervise the DNFBP and commercial free zones with regards to AML/CFT. The MoE has issued guidelines for each of the DNFBPs for better understanding and effective performance of legal obligations. Further, the ministry has established a specialized Anti-Money Laundering Department to curb the financing of terrorism and illegal organizations and its implementing regulation.

Responsibilities of DNFBP

Few of the many responsibilities of DNFBP are as follows:

  1. Appointing a compliance officer
  2. Performing customer due diligence (CDD) measures
  3. Suspicious transaction reporting (STR) to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU)
  4. Subscription to the automatic reporting system (ARS) for sanctions lists
  5. Keep appropriate updated records to identify individuals and entities designated by the Cabinet
  6. Conduct screening on existing and new clients
  7. Ensure compliance with requirements of freezing of funds under the UNSC list or local list

The goAML registration can be divided into following two steps:

To fulfill the statutory obligation, DNFBPs should ensure that they have adequate internal policies, procedures and controls in place commensurate with the type and size of business.

**NOTE :

  • The deadline to register in the free goAML system to file STRs and ARS for sanctions lists was February 25, 2021 and is applicable for DNFBPs registered in mainland and free zones as well.
  • MoE has extended the deadline and grace period for registration until March 31, 2021 for mainland DNFBPs.
  • DNFBPs that fail to abide with rules shall be subject to various administrative and financial penalties, that range from warnings to fines between Dh 50,000 to Dh 5 million.


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