On Friday, the London Bullion Market Association, which regulates the United Kingdom capital’s metals market, suspended Emirates Gold DMCC’s affiliate membership after conducting a review.
Two of the ultimate beneficial owners of Emirates Gold are relatives of Zimbabwean businessmen Simon Rudland and Howard Baker, according to Bloomberg sources familiar with the UAE decision.
A documentary by Al Jazeera from early 2023 alleged that the businessmen were involved in money laundering through the UAE’s gold sector, but it did not specify Emirates Gold as being connected. Rudland denied any involvement with money laundering in response to the documentary.
Emirates Gold, which has operated in the UAE for more than 30 years, is a popular name in the UAE gold industry. Its suspension comes amid increased government action against money laundering due to international pressure.
The UAE Central Bank issued new guidance on money laundering and terrorist financing in January of this year, which was seen as a move to curb global criticism of the country’s financial practices.
On Wednesday, less than a week before the suspension, the UAE achieved observer status in the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering. The global body, with members including China, Japan and South Korea, works to fight against “money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing related to weapons of mass destruction.”
The UAE was placed on the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) “grey list” in early 2022, which indicated that the Gulf country had a relatively high degree of money laundering practices.
UAE Economy Minister Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri told Reuters on the sidelines of the City Week conference in London in April that his country needs time to demonstrate the effectiveness and enforcement of policies introduced against financial crime before it can be removed from the global watchdog’s list.
“We have addressed many challenges. But what really needs to be seen now is a lot of effectiveness, and I think that comes with time,” said Marri. The UAE has managed to address many of the FATF’s 58 original concerns, and there are around 15 left.”
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