The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has said it now requires real estate agents, brokers, and law firms to report to the Financial Intelligence Unit real estate transactions in which virtual currency is used as payment. Similarly, real estate purchases or sales where “the funds used in the transaction are derived from a virtual asset” must also be reported.

Identification Documents of Parties to the Transaction Must Be Recorded

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) government has said it is introducing new reporting requirements for real estate transactions wherein virtual currency is used as a payment method. With the introduction of these new reporting requirements, the UAE is showcasing its “sustainable and evolving approach to the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.”

As per a report published by WAM, the decision to alter reporting requirements followed several meetings and discussions which were held by the UAE’s Ministries of Economy, Justice, and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). The discussions were centered on how real estate agents, brokers, and law firms should file reports of property purchases or sales to the FIU.

As part of the new reporting requirements, real estate agents must report all cash transactions where “single or multiple cash payment(s) [are] equal to or above AED 55,000 [$14,974]” to the FIU. Where digital currency is concerned, agents and brokers are required to report to the FIU when payments include the use of a virtual asset. The same should also be done when “the funds used in the transaction [are] derived from a virtual asset.”

As per the WAM report, the new reporting mechanism now “requires real estate agents, brokers, and law firms to obtain and record the identification documents of the parties to the applicable transaction, among other relevant documents related to the transaction.” The report added that the rules will apply “to both individuals and corporate entities that are parties to the above real estate transactions.”

Reporting Requirements to Ensure Economic and Financial Stability

Meanwhile, the report quotes the UAE’s economy minister, Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, commending the adoption of the new reporting requirements, which ostensibly not only ensure economic and financial stability, but combat malpractice by businesses. For his part, Justice Minister Abdullah Sultan Bin Awwad Al Nuaimi suggested the introduction of new reporting requirements proved the government and the private sector were working together. He said:

The introduction of reporting rules for certain transactions in the real estate sector is another example of how the UAE is coordinating across the government and with the private sector to strengthen the national framework for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism.

The head of the FIU, Ali Faisal Ba’Alawi, said the new requirements will help “improve the quality of financial intelligence available to the FIU.” The requirements will help the FIU trace the suspicious transfer of funds or investments, Ba’Alawi added.

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