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UAE introduces new reporting requirements to counter crypto real estate money laundering


The United Arab Emirates introduced new reporting requirements for real estate transactions involving digital assets in a statement on August 8.

The new rules are aimed at clamping down on money laundering and terrorist financing, the UAE government said.

Amid Dubai and Abu Dhabi recently attracting throngs of crypto exchanges and businesses to set up shop, a number of real estate developers had announced they will accept crypto. Among them was luxury property developer DAMAC, which started accepting payments in Bitcoin and Ethereum in April 2022.

Now the UAE government wants to ensure that the region’s anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing standards are equipped to cover digital assets.

The new reporting requirements were introduced by the Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Justice in partnership with the UAE Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). The government also consulted with the Executive Office for Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT).

According to the rules, real estate agents brokers, and law firms are required to report all transactions involving crypto to the FIU. This includes all transactions where payment is made, either in part or full, in cash equal to or above AED 55,000 (approximately $15,000), in cryptocurrencies or funds derived from a virtual asset, the UAE government said.

Since the government did not mention a threshold for reporting virtual asset payments for real estate, it follows that all crypto transactions, no matter how small, will have to be reported.

All real estate agents, brokers, and law firms also have to report the identification and other relevant documents of the parties involved in the transaction, the UAE government said. The reporting requirements apply to both individual and corporate entities buying or selling properties in the region.

UAE minister of justice Abdullah Sultan Bin Awwad Al Nuaimi said in the statement that the new rules will enable UAE to take quick action to protect the region from “known and emerging risks.”

The head of UAE FIU Ali Faisal Ba’Alawi said:

“These new measures will improve the quality of financial intelligence available to the FIU and will be used to trace the suspicious movement of funds or investments as part of our fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.”

The UAE government said it has arranged three workshops to ensure that all real estate agents and brokers are prepared for the reporting requirements.

According to the minister of economy Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, the new reporting requirements will leave little to no room for manipulation or illegal practices that could affect the economy and investments in the real estate sector.

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