The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is poised to exit the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) “grey list” on February 23, marking substantial progress in addressing anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CTF) shortcomings over nearly two years.

Economic Implications and Investor Confidence

The imminent delisting holds the promise of broader economic benefits, potentially transforming the investment landscape of the Arab world’s second-largest economy. Analysts anticipate a surge in investor confidence in the UAE’s financial system, potentially attracting increased capital inflows to funds managed within the jurisdiction.

Positive Impact on Asset and Fund Managers

For asset and fund managers considering the UAE, the expected delisting carries positive implications. It underscores the UAE’s commitment to financial integrity and global economic stability, emphasizing the ongoing importance of reform and compliance efforts.

Stable Regulatory Environment and Improved Reputation

John Kartonchik, Senior Director of Regulatory & Compliance Services at Re/think, notes potential improvements in the UAE’s reputation, attracting more investment and business opportunities for asset and fund managers. The exit from the FATF grey list may contribute to a more stable and predictable regulatory environment for asset and fund managers in the UAE.

Market Access and International Presence

Positive outcomes extend to expanded market access, as removal from the grey list could eliminate restrictions or compliance requirements hindering investment in the UAE. This opens up new opportunities for asset and fund managers to access global markets and investors, encouraging international financial institutions to establish or expand their presence in the country.

FATF Recognition and UAE’s Reform Efforts

The FATF’s grey list, formally known as Jurisdictions under Increased Monitoring, included the UAE in March 2022, prompting significant efforts to enhance AML/CFT compliance. The Central Bank of the UAE took stringent measures against non-compliance, penalizing exchange houses and banks.

The FATF’s October 2023 Plenary recognized critical reforms in the UAE, such as an improved understanding of ML/TF risks, enhanced measures to prevent legal entity misuse, increased financial intelligence capacity, and more effective enforcement of targeted financial sanctions. The expected removal from the grey list signifies the UAE’s dedication to resolving issues and undergoing intensified scrutiny.

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