Organizers warned attendees at this week’s FIU Egmont Group conference in Abu Dhabi not to share the photos on social media.
The warning came as more than two-thirds of financial crime professionals (68%) said the agency representing the world’s financial intelligence agencies was wrong to allow the “grey-listed” United Arab Emirates (UAE) to host the conference.
Moreover, allowing the UAE to host the meeting could be seen as an attempt to influence FATF decision-making, one of the world’s top experts on dirty money has warned.
The conference attracted more than 400 attendees, including some of the world’s most influential financial crime law enforcement leaders.
The UAE is on the Financial Action Task Force’s “grey” watch list and is a preferred destination for Russian dirty money and gold. It has also been criticized for providing safe havens for international crime groups such as the Kinahan Cartel. Just last month, investigative journalists revealed that the UAE has been accused of turning a blind eye to sex trafficking on an industrial scale.
Commenting on the UAE’s decision to host the meeting, one of the world’s leading financial crime experts said the decision could be seen as an attempt to influence FATF. “Some people might say, ‘This is one way to help get off the FATF watch list…'” Dr. Nicholas Gilmore commented on LinkedIn.
Dr. Gilmour is the world’s leading authority on anti-money laundering and co-author of the acclaimed book on the subject of money laundering, The War on Money Laundering.
Many members of the Egmont Group’s 166 member states also represent their countries on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which added the UAE to its watch list last year.
The Middle East’s financial capital said it was taking steps to get off the watch list and has been running a PR campaign to ensure its success
Separately, Egmont, which represents 166 financial intelligence units around the world, warned its representatives over the weekend not to release any photos of the meeting.
“We would like to remind delegates to refrain from sharing images or content with sensitive information externally via social media or otherwise,” organizers said.
At the same time, in a survey Anti-Money Laundering Intelligence68% of respondents said Egmont was wrong to make Abu Dhabi the host city for the Financial Crimes Police and Law Enforcement Summit. Only 29% agreed with the decision, and 3% said they didn’t know.
The meeting opens today (Monday) and runs until Friday (7 July).
Xolisile Khanyile, Director of South Africa’s Financial Intelligence Center (FIC), is currently Chairman of the Egmont Group. Last month, she met Hamid Alzaabi, director of the UAE’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Executive Office, at the FATF plenary meeting in Paris.
At the FATF plenary meeting, the Egmont Group stated that it “in particular contributed to the revision of Recommendation 8/INR 8 and the FATF Guidance on Non-Profit Organizations and was involved in the possible revision of Recommendation 4 and Recommendation 38 on asset recovery project team.”
The organization also said it was “delighted to join FATF and INTERPOL as co-lead partners in the Joint Project on Internet Fraud and Money Laundering.”
The group’s decision to allow the UAE to host the meeting has drawn international attention because the country is known as a clearinghouse for Russian dirty money and, in many cases, converts it into gold. In Dubai, the city’s most luxurious real estate has been snapped up by oligarchs who have found safe haven there.
“This year’s event definitely had a flavor that hadn’t been there before. Many delegates were wary of being unduly influenced by hosting here. There was a degree of paranoia about the warnings not to post material on social media. The event There’s an advantage, but we’ll see at the end of the week how far it goes,” a representative told Anti-Money Laundering Intelligence.
Last month, the British “Sunday Times” reported that despite the international drug gang being on the most wanted list of several countries and sanctioned by the United States with a $5 million bounty, influential figures in Dubai are still protecting the international drug gang. gang. gang leader.
At the European Financial Crime Summit 2023 in Dublin last month, one of the world’s top investigative journalists described the city as the “new Panama” – the nerve center of shady dealings.
The UAE is a major sex-trafficking destination, with African women forced into prostitution on illegal networks operating within the country, according to an investigation by Reuters and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. According to anti-trafficking activists, Nigerian authorities, and interviews with trafficked women, UAE authorities do little to protect the women, and law enforcement has turned a blind eye to the problem.
Intelligence chiefs around the world view the Middle East’s financial capital as a safe place to work for many international gangsters – even though local law enforcement has stepped up operations and has been promoting a crackdown on financial crime of late.
The theme of the plenary session was: “Financial Intelligence Units Leverage Advanced IT Technologies to Enhance Their Operations”.
It will be the focus of discussions throughout the week and will be the subject of the final HFIU panel discussion in the plenary. Additionally, during the event, four working groups and eight regional groups will meet to continue advancing the organization’s goals, and the 2023 Best Egmont Case Award (BECA) will be awarded to “excellent, engaging and Educational Casework” FIU.