The United Arab Emirates (UAE) could be placed on a "grey list'' of nations because of its failure to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing.

The European Union's Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is considering putting the UAE on its list of jurisdictions that are under increased monitoring. This would be a huge setback for the UAE, which has emerged as a major financial centre in the Middle East.

A decision on whether the UAE is placed on the list is expected to be made at the FATF's meeting in late February. While the UAE submitted a report to the FATF two months ago, it has been reported that the country had not met all of the targets required to ensure it is not put on the grey list.

The UAE does, however, have a number of opportunities to argue its case to FATF officials before any decision is made.

The situation the UAE finds itself in with the FATF comes in the wake of reports that the country has played a prominent role in global money laundering operations conducted by organised crime networks and corrupt individuals. Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, has been named as one of the world's ten most secretive financial centres.

Given the UAE's position as the main financial hub for the Middle East, being placed on the grey list would be a substantial blow. It would produce associated costs for banks and financial institutions that function there, as they would have to revise their risk ratings and associated due diligence procedures. It would also do a substantial degree of damage to the UAE's reputation.

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