Emirates Approve Bill to Fight Money-laundering for Terrorism

The United Arab Emirates, identified as a conduit for funds tied to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, has given final approval to a bill against money-laundering, a senior government official said yesterday. The bill, which needs only the signature of President Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to become law, gives the Central Bank considerable power to monitor and control banks, money changers and other financial institutions, the official Emirates News Agency reported. The agency published the bill yesterday after the Cabinet approved it Monday evening. The bill had been accelerated after reports that money used in the attacks on New York and Washington had passed through the country.

The bill permits the Central Bank to freeze suspicious accounts for up to a week and allows the courts to freeze such accounts indefinitely. The draft provides penalties of up to seven years and fines of up to 300,000 dirhams (dlrs 81,522), the agency said.