UAE more than doubles limit on undeclared cash

Arriving travellers will be able to bring in AED100,000 under new rules, says central bank
UAE more than doubles limit on undeclared cash
By Staff writer
Mon 20 Jun 2011 10:33 AM

The amount of cash travellers may bring into the UAE has more than doubled under new rules aimed at curbing money laundering activity, the country’s central bank said on Sunday.

The Gulf state has, for the first time, placed a limit of AED100,000 on the amount of undeclared cash or bearer instruments such as cheques that can be carried out of  the country.

But the new ruling also significantly raises the amount of money that arriving passengers can bring into the UAE, from the existing limit of AED40,000.

“The UAE has a vibrant and a well-diversified open economy,” said Sultan Bin Nasser Al Suwaidi, governor of the central bank. “As a major trading and financial centre, the UAE… has put in place a strong legal, regulatory and institutional framework to counter money laundering and combat terrorist financing."

The rules will come into effect on September 1, 2011.

Dubai, a Gulf trade and finance hub, has been fighting a reputation as a haven for money laundering since the September 11 attacks of 2001 drew attention to the relative ease of moving money through the city.

The emirate was also named as the likely destination for the missing billions of ousted Arab leaders Hosni Mubarak, the former president of Egypt, and ex-Tunisian President Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali.

The UAE earlier this month ordered its banks to freeze assets linked to Ben Ali, his wife and 120 other Tunisians implicated under his former regime.

The central bank said the step would bring the UAE in line with international regulations on monitoring suspicious cash flows, and is the result of efforts by the country’s anti-money laundering and suspicious transactions unit and the Federal Customs Authority.

Most nations place restrictions on the amount of undeclared money that can be brought in and out of the country.

According to International Monetary Fund data from 1996, quoted on the website of global anti-money laundering agency FATF, between $590bn and $1.5 trillion is laundered worldwide each year.

In a report last year, FATF highlighted the business-friendly policies of free zones as a risk for money-laundering activities.

“The characteristics that makes free trade zones beneficial for legitimate businesses, also makes them highly attractive for illicit actors who take advantage of a more relaxed oversight to launder the proceeds of crime and finance terrorism,” the report said.

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