Niall Hearty of financial crime specialists Rahman Ravelli assesses the situation.

Businesses that are registered at some United Arab Emirates (UAE) free zones have received penalty notices for not registering with the country's updated anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.

The free zones allow businesses to combine providing financial services with activities such as dealing in real estate. But it appears that some of the businesses remain unaware of the need to register with the government's goAML portal, which is part of the UAE's zero-tolerance policy on money laundering.

Further delays in registering will lead to the possibility of heavy fines being imposed.

The goAML portal is managed by the UAE's Ministry of Economy. Licensed businesses in the UAE that deal in real estate, precious stones or provide consultancy, legal or accountancy services had until March 31 this year to submit the relevant paperwork and ensure they were complaint with the UAE's AML requirements.

The UAE is putting a lot of effort into maintaining strong AML policies. Requiring businesses to register with its portal is seen as a key part of the UAE's approach to tackling money laundering. Issuing penalty notices and the accompanying risk of hefty fines has to be seen by the businesses concerned as a strong sign that the UAE takes AML seriously.

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