New regulation will allow family businesses to stipulate how assets will be used in the long term and facilitate the development of charitable trusts
New AML steps to ensure strict compliance
The Ministry of Economy announced the extension of the grace period for registration in its systems to combat money laundering until March 31, 2021, and warned that companies that fail to register would be subject to penalties including suspension of licences and closure
The new initiatives announced by the UAE, which are in line with the government’s ongoing efforts to combat money laundering crimes, will help ensure strict compliance with the anti-money laundering law (AML) and enhance the economy’s ability to achieve sustainable growth, the Ministry of Economy said.
The latest move by the Ministry of Economy is in accordance with the Cabinet Resolution No. (16) of 2021 regarding a list of types of violations and administrative fines for such violations with regard to combatting money laundering and terrorism financing.
The list includes 26 types of violations and stipulated fines that range from Dh50,000 to up to Dh1 million, which could be doubled up to Dh5 million in certain cases.
In a statement, the Ministry of Economy announced the extension of the grace period for registration in its systems to combat money laundering until March 31, 2021, and warned that companies that fail to register would be subject to penalties including suspension of licences and closure.
The ministry called on companies practicing in four main categories — including brokers and real estate agents, dealers of precious metals and gemstones, auditors and corporate service providers — to enhance their awareness and knowledge on the risks of money laundering and keep pace with the government’s efforts in this regard.
The first step to be taken by these companies is to register on the Financial Intelligence Unit (goAML) and on the Committee for Commodities Subject to Import and Export Control system (Automatic Reporting System for Sanctions Lists).
“Following their registrations on these two systems, they should adopt other measures related to the two systems in accordance with the provisions of the Decree-Law, its implementing regulations and the relevant decisions.”
The Ministry clarified that the grace period for registering on the two systems has been extended until March 31, 2021, and that the companies that fail to do so before this date will be subject to penalties, including suspension of the license and closure of the facility.
In addition, the ministry underlined the significance of completing the post-registration procedures and measures to avoid the fines set by the Cabinet Resolution No. 16 of 2021.
Safeya Al Safi, director of the Anti-Money Laundering Department, MoE, said all concerned companies should establish internal policies, procedures and controls to avoid money laundering risks in accordance with the measures set forth by the executive regulations of the law.
Al Safi said the measures reflect the UAE’s keenness to continuously develop its economic legislation to enhance its competitiveness as a safe and stable global business destination.
The list of violations mentioned in a Cabinet resolution includes three types with a fine of Dh1 million each. These include dealing with fake banks; opening or maintaining bank accounts with fake names or numbers without the names of their owners; and failure to take measures related to clients listed on international or domestic sanctions lists, prior to establishing or continuing a business relationship.
The list includes five violations with a fine of Dh200,000 each; seven violations with fines of D100,000 each; and 11 violations carrying fines of Dh50,000 each.
In terms of administrative fines and the grievance mechanism, the resolution states that the Ministry shall notify the violators of the Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs) included in the administrative fine decision signed on him within 15 days from the date of its issuance.
The violator has the right to grievance against the decision of the administrative fine to the minister or whoever he authorises within 15 days from the date of his notification of the decision or his knowledge of it, the MoE statement said.
UAE’s new trust law to benefit onshore businesses
A new UAE Trust law passed late last year will support the development of the onshore wealth management sector in the country, a finance ministry official said.
The Federal Law No. (19) of 2020 on trusts was enacted by President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed in September last year.
“The decree-law regarding trusts was an important addition to the UAE’s advanced legislative structure,” Younis Haji Al Khouri, undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance, said.
“[It] supports the wealth management sector in the country and provides new mechanisms for managing companies and family funds. It also encourages the allocation of charitable trusts.”
Although trust laws exist in the UAE’s two financial free zones, the Dubai International Financial Centre and Abu Dhabi Global Market, which are based on common law, this is the first time the UAE has granted full recognition to similar arrangements within the onshore legal system, Richard Catling, a partner at law firm Al Tamimi & Company, said.
The trust law allows companies or people who own capital or other assets to transfer these in the form of a trust to a trustee, who will be responsible for managing them. A trust deed document will be created, which is recorded electronically, to oversee the assets, whether moveable or property, the ministry said.
“Over the past three decades, the UAE economy has increasingly been exposed to, and integrated with, sophisticated international business and financial practices and markets,” Mr Catling, a partner in corporate commercial and family business practice, said.
Many UAE residents are already familiar with trusts and there is already appetite within the country for these products, which range from private family trusts to publicly-traded mutual funds, real estate investment trusts and securitisation structures, Mr Catling said.
“Although these legal products are available in the UAE’s financial free zones [DIFC and ADGM], the real weight of UAE economic activity and assets lies outside these free zones in the onshore areas. Free zone trust arrangements cannot effectively govern dealings or enforce established ownership rights over UAE onshore assets, whether these comprise cash, securities, land, moveable assets or legal rights,” he added.
The UAE Cabinet announced in October last year that family-owned companies would be among the biggest beneficiaries of the new regulations, as they will allow founders to carry out succession planning and secure the long term future of company assets.
The new decree also covers charitable and private trusts that deal in securities on financial markets, as well as retirement funds to ensure that benefits are provided to beneficiaries in exchange for contributions to a trust.
Dr Hussam Al Talhouni, legal adviser at the Office of the Minister of Finance, said the necessary instruments for the administration of trusts is already being put in place.
“The trust registry for family businesses has already been created while we are working on the registry for private trusts with the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority. It should be ready soon,” Mr Al Talhouni added.
The law will help fill a number of “obvious gaps in the onshore legal system” and will likely spur major developments in onshore law and practice, Mr Catling added.
Welcoming the new law, the DIFC said it makes the UAE a sound platform for families to plan for the future of their businesses and descendants.
“The new federal law was particularly significant because it was the first time the common law concept of the trust had been included within the civil law regimes of the Arab world,” the DIFC said in a statement.
The entity added that the new law recognised the operation of DIFC and ADGM trusts, as well as foreign trusts, within that part of the UAE outside the financial free zone.
In recent months, the UAE’s leadership has made several changes to legislation related to commerce. These include amendments to the commercial companies’ law that allows 100 per cent foreign ownership of businesses and commercial transactions legislation such as the decriminalisation of cheques. The government has also amended bankruptcy and consumer protection laws.
6,464 licences auto renewed in January 2021, says Dubai Economy
Reduces customers’ journey from 7 steps to one step only; Send licence number via SMS to 6969 without any visits and zero paperwork
Dubai has initiated another move to ease doing of business by reducing customers’ journey from seven steps to one step only for renewal of licences in the emirate.
A report by the Business Registration and Licensing (BRL) sector of Dubai Economy showed that 6,464 licences were auto renewed during January 2021. Among the auto renewed licences issued, 77 per cent were commercial, 21 per cent professional, and the rest among tourism and industrial activities.
According to the main areas, Deira accounted for the largest share (3,417) of auto renewed licences followed by Bur Dubai (3028), and Hatta (19). The top sub-regions were: Burj Khalifa, Naif, Port Saeed, Al Marar, Trade Centre 1, Al Garhoud, Al Khabaisi, Rigga Al Buteen, Eyal Nasser and Hor Al Anz East.
In terms of legal forms of the auto renewed licences issued in January 2021, Limited Liability companies accounted for 67 per cent of the total, followed by Sole Establishments at 21 per cent and Civil Works companies at seven per cent. The rest of the legal forms included; One-Person Limited Liability Companies; Branches of companies based in other Emirates; Branches of Free Zone Companies; Branches of Foreign Companies; Branches of Gulf Companies; General Partnership; Public Shareholding Companies; Private Joint-Stock Companies, and Government Liaison Office.
The figures underline the positive impact of the economic stimulus package launched by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, which allows commercial licences to be renewed without lease contracts.
The Auto Renewal service, which is shortlisted for the Flag of Hamdan bin Mohammed Program for Government Services 2020, reflects Dubai government’s ambition to go completely paper-free by 2021. The service has added tremendous value to businesses as the completion of transactions and payment of required amounts do not require any paperwork. It reflects the emirate’s constant efforts to provide a supportive environment and infrastructure for local and international businesses.
The Auto Renewal service further scales up BRL sector service standards, particularly in improving customer satisfaction, saving time and facilitating the process of business registration effortlessly. Previously, the customer’s journey to renew a licence included four visits and seven steps, and now, business owners can auto renew the business licence in one step by sending a text message with the trade licence number to be renewed to 6969.
Dubai Economy offers a number of payment channels for transactions related to auto renewals, such as online through Smart Dubai Payment Gateway; Aafaq; DED Business App; Commercial Bank of Dubai (customers) and Dubai Islamic Bank (customers). Customers can also pay fees through Aafaq via Bank Transfer or Deposit using Dubai Islamic Bank ATMs. Cash payment through Commercial Bank of Dubai or Emirates Islamic (branches/ATMs) is also an option.
No external approvals are needed to complete the auto renewal except for four commercial activities — transportation by public taxi, transportation by limousine, rent-a-car, and non-emergency transportation services — which require the approval of the Roads & Transport Authority, in addition to two others — inbound and outbound tours – related to the Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing.
Business owners must update their personal data for the BRL sector team to provide services more effectively.
DMCC records 5-year high new company registrations
Creates new record for Dubai business hub in the past five years.
DMCC, a leading free zone hub for commodities trade, said on Monday that it recorded the highest number of new company registrations in five years in 2020 despite the impact of the pandemic.
The free zone said the retention rate also remained at an all-time high, primarily due to the “business support package” launched in March 2020 that positively impacted companies in 149 countries. More than 8,000 member companies availed over 13,000 offers and incentives throughout the year, DMCC said in a statement.
Ahmed bin Sulayem, executive chairman and CEO, DMCC, said despite the difficult context, the free zone continued to attract, facilitate and promote global trade flows to and through Dubai. “We surpassed 18,000 member companies, broke company registration records, while launching new initiatives and progressing on time with flagship projects. Building on this momentum, we will maximise the progress made to reach new heights in 2021.”
In 2020, rough diamonds worth Dh91.8 billion were traded through the Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE), the world’s largest diamond tender facility in the zone. The zone’s Coffee Centre recorded seven million kilos of coffee while its Tea Centre saw the transaction of 40,000 metric tonnes of tea.
DMCC was also instrumental in drawing foreign direct investment to Dubai by marking a 20 per cent year-on-year increase in Chinese companies joining the DMCC. A China Service Centre opened its doors in Almas Tower with Mandarin onboarding support while a representative office in Shenzhen was inaugurated all with the aim of promoting the ease of doing business through the business hub.
Following an MOU with the Israel Diamond Exchange, DMCC inaugurated its representative office in Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv, Israel in 2020. The new office is supporting Israeli businesses, from all industries and sectors, to set up an office in DMCC, it said.
Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange (DGCX), a derivatives exchange and a subsidiary of DMCC, traded 12.73 million contracts valued at Dh1.177 trillion while the DMCC Tradeflow platform recorded transactions valued at Dh744 billion, an increase of 121 per cent year-on-year. The transaction value of Islamic products rose by 128 per cent year-on-year.