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Central Bank appoints Head of UAE Financial Intelligence Unit

The Governor of the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) has appointed Ali Faisal Ba’Alawi as Head of the UAE Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

This appointment represents the next step in the implementation of the UAE’s National AML/CFT Strategy and National Action Plan, the programme of reforms designed to strengthen the UAE’s anti-financial crime system following the establishment of the Executive Office to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in February 2021.

Ba’Alawi has been acting head of the FIU since March 2018 and brings more than ten years specialist experience to the role.

Khaled Mohamed Balama, Governor of the Central Bank of the UAE, commented, “Over the last two years, Ali has drawn on his deep technical skills and front-line experience to set a clear mandate for the FIU’s structure, status, and all operational aspects of its administration. Each core aspect has been based on detailed, action-orientated priorities. He has also worked tirelessly to build effective relationships across both public and private entities based on mutual trust, fairness, and reciprocity. This includes broadening relationships with international partners, investing in developing the FIU’s skills and capabilities, and driving forward the adoption of technology to strengthen the UAE’s AML defences.”

Hamid Al Zaabi, Director-General of the Executive Office of the UAE, said, “The FIU plays a key role in the UAE’s efforts against financial crime. It receives reports of suspicious transactions, analyses them, and disseminates the resulting intelligence to local law enforcement agencies while also studying, tracking, and interpreting the evolution of existing and emerging typologies of financial crime in the jurisdiction across sectors. Establishing an effective FIU is an important step in combating financial crime and a cornerstone of the UAE’s National Action Plan. The UAE offers the FIU all political support necessary to ensure its enduring success.”

Ali Faisal Ba’Alawi, Head of the UAE FIU, added, “It is with great pride that I assume this important position. Investing in the ongoing development of our FIUs is a clear signal of our collective determination to intensify efforts to focus on research, analysis, and information exchange in order to combat money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes. The UAE takes its role in protecting the integrity of the global financial system extremely seriously and an effective FIU is a critical part of our efforts. I am committed to working across all actors in our economy and beyond to enable effective enforcement.”

Ba’Alawi currently serves as the main contact point for the UAE in a number of important regional and international fora, including the Egmont Group, which represents 166 FIUs globally and provides a platform for the secure exchange of expertise and financial intelligence to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

The Executive Office, which launched on 24th February 2021, works as the primary national coordinating body on AML/CFT efforts within the UAE, holding a wide-ranging mandate to assist UAE AML/CFT related entities in enhancing efficiency to better address the country’s NAP. Its overarching objective is to enable and better equip the UAE in building a strong and sustainable AML/CFT structure in the country.

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