The UAE Central Bank on Monday downgraded the licence of some currency exchange houses and asked the residents not to send remittances through those exchange for violating regulations.
The seven companies which were downgraded include Taher Exchange Est., Al Hadha Exchange, Al Hemriya Exchange, Dubai Express Exchange, Sanaa Exchange, Cosmos Exchange and Bin Bakheet Exchange Est.
"The above exchange houses were prohibited from conducting any activities relating to remittances or payment of wages. This decision comes after the failure of these exchange houses to regularise their status during the grace period granted by the Central Bank," the Central Bank said in a statement on Monday.
The exchange houses had violated anti-money laundering regulations, too, the apex bank said.
The apex bank alerted the UAE residents not to deal in remittances and payment of wages through those seven exchange houses. The companies can now only deal in sale and purchase of foreign currencies and travellers cheques only.
With Eid Al Fitr approaching in the UAE, the remittances outflow will pick up substantially in coming days and expats will be remitting funds back to their home countries to mark Eid Al Fitr. In 2017, expat remittances amounted to Dh164.3 billion as compared to Dh160.8 billion in the previous year, an increase of 2.2 per cent.
In addition, a number of companies in the country pay wages to their blue-collar workers also through currency exchange houses.
The Foreign Exchange and Remittances Group (Ferg), a consortium of businesses engaged in the foreign exchange and remittance industry, issued an update on the anti-money laundering manual in January this year with an aim of keeping exchange houses in the UAE steps ahead of money laundering and other financial crimes.
According to Ferg, there has been a 90 per cent drop in crimes in banks and money exchange houses last year compared to 2016, due to the awareness sessions and security initiatives taken by the different authorities.
The group had said in a statement that it always stressed on the importance of cooperation between the authorities and employees of exchange houses in creating a more secured environment. It had also hosted a training workshop with Dubai Police for employees of over 75 exchange houses to avoid deception or forgery.
The industry body said that preparing the staff of financial institutions in the UAE is the first line of defence against financial crimes, with intelligence and smart solutions to anticipate and prevent the crimes even before they occur.
By Waheed Abbas
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