As global financial systems become increasingly interconnected, it becomes even more vital to build robust preparedness programs and leverage full-scale compliance technology to guard against and investigate financial crimes.

The UAE, a financial nerve-centre and hub for global investors, is at the forefront of efforts to guard against, prosecute and investigate financial crime. Given the UAE’s status as a global force and the high solvency and liquidity of its economy, safeguarding its financial system from financial crimes is imperative.

The UAE has proactively forged a compliance framework by leveraging modern technology to facilitate the detection of suspicious transactions, and the investigation and prosecution of financial crimes. Its efforts have been acknowledged by major international agencies such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF).

Financial institutions in the UAE must harness efficient financial crime compliance and investigations preparedness to achieve the gold standard of rigour and sophistication in tackling financial crime and follow international benchmarks.

Organizations must prioritize the development of a transparent data landscape and conduct a data mapping or inventory exercise to bring clarity to the sources of information across the organization. Detailed data awareness is essential to begin implementing archiving processes that meet regulatory and business needs.

A response plan is essential in creating efficient pathways to investigate financial crimes. The plan should clearly outline the steps that will be taken to contain information when an investigation begins and the external advisors who will be called upon to quickly support data preservation, collection, analysis, and so on.

Organizations must ensure that a high standard for data quality is maintained across all sources, in addition to data mapping and containing data volumes through defensible retention and disposal programmers.

Investigations must be approached with the expectation that the results may come under scrutiny, and organizations must be ready to initiate and swiftly follow defensible forensic procedures as soon as an issue arises.

Financial crime investigations are high-pressure, time-sensitive matters, and evidence must often be produced to courts in a matter of days or weeks. Readiness to do that requires data awareness and understanding of key facts around issues of potential concern.

Harnessing the fundamentals of effective investigations has become a critical necessity for UAE financial institutions, promoting transparency, accountability, and trust in the financial sector.