During the recent MENA FATF (Financial Action Task Force) regional body’s workshop attendees adopted several recommendation proposes by Abu Dhabi including those pertaining to virtual assets, in the fight against money laundering, and terrorism.

The Abu Dhabi recommendations consist of 24 best practice commitments made by MENAFATF member states for enhancing regional efforts to counter money laundering and financing of terrorism.

The recommendations were agreed at the closing of the MENAFATF Typologies and Capacity Building Workshop held between 6-8 March 2023 under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Chairman of the Higher Committee Overseeing the National Strategy on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism, and hosted by the UAE Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing (EO AML/CTF) in Abu Dhabi.

Of the 24 recommendation five pertained to virtual assets. The first discussed enhancing MENAFATF countries’ understanding of the requirements of Recommendation 15, including the sectorial risk assessment of virtual assets, given the rapid development in this field.

The second recommendation  urged countries to build capacities in the field of virtual assets with the competent authorities, especially in the field of supervision, control, investigations and management of seized and confiscated assets and the extent of their use in evading sanctions.

While the third recommendation proposed continuing to adopt new technologies to mitigate the risks of virtual assets in partnership with the private sector.

As for the fourth and fifth recommendations, one proposed enhancing national cooperation in following up on issues related to virtual assets between the competent authorities and urged the use of best practices such as specialized task forces (working groups), while the other proposed raising awareness among member countries about the risks of cybercrime, particularly ransom ware and related payment methods, especially concerning VAs.

Suliman Al Jabrin, Executive Secretary of MENAFATF, stated that regional alignment on best practices has created of a set of shared standards that strengthens the national AML/CFT systems of member states. He added, “I am delighted that the 24 recommendations made by MENAFATF members in Abu Dhabi cover a comprehensive range of the most pressing issues facing us today. It is right that the list includes Virtual Assets (VA), ML typologies, Public-Private Partnerships, regional assessments, and multiple means of expanding cooperation. The MENA region plays an important role in the global economy, and the Abu Dhabi recommendations send a strong signal to our international partners that there is no place for financial crime in our part of the world.”