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UAE ‘Ultimate Beneficial Owner’ rule: Businesses pay Dh15,000 fines for non-compliance and there could be more
05 Aug 2021

More Dubai businesses are finding that what should be a routine process costing them Dh15 to complete is resulting in penalties of Dh15,000 when they do not comply. This is exactly what is happening for those licensed businesses that are not meeting the UAE’s crackdown on UBO (Ultimate Beneficial Owner) compliance requirements.

The Ultimate Beneficial Owner requirement relates to revealing anyone who has direct or indirect control of a business, and the UAE now requires all such information to be provided for the setting up or renewal of business licenses. The intention was to make businesses – and their owners – truly accountable and prevent any activity – such as money laundering or financing of terrorism – being carried out that flies under the radar.

And the penalties for non-compliance can get bigger – “Failure to comply could result in fines ranging up to Dh100,000, including suspension of trade licenses for a period between one month to 12,” said Atik Munshi, Managing Partner at Enterprise House, a consultancy. “The process of submission of the UBO requirement is swift and efficient.

“But if an entity has failed to furnish its UBO requirements within the stipulated period, the time and process regarding acceptance would be solely dependent on the concerned local authority.”

The processes to be UBO-compliant can be done over a smartphone. All emirates now require their licensed businesses to ensure they furnish all these details. And June 30 was the last day for all such submissions.

Cracking down

The Dubai’s Department of Economic Development has already issued fines for failure to comply, with 148 businesses penalised to date. Other emirates could be issuing their own strictures, and making it difficult for businesses to run their operations without them first revealing who their real beneficiaries are.

“We contacted all our clients to inform them about UBO regulations, and more than 85 per cent completed their filing on time,” said Anoop Pillai, Director – Legal Business Advisory at A&A Associates. “However, many business owners are still stranded outside the UAE, while others did not receive communication from us or from various government channels.

By Manoj Nair, Gulf News, 5 August 2021

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