UAE to Clamp Down on Crypto Real Estate Money Laundering

The authorities want to trace payments made in bitcoin and ethereum as the country develops as a crypto hub.

AccessTimeIconAug 8, 2022 at 11:02 a.m. UTC
Updated Aug 8, 2022 at 5:59 p.m. UTC

Jack Schickler is a CoinDesk reporter focused on crypto regulations, based in Brussels, Belgium. He doesn’t own any crypto.

Real estate agents will have to alert money laundering authorities of any property sales paid for in crypto, the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said in a statement on Monday.

With companies such as Bybit, Kraken, Binance and Crypto.com seeking to set up in the emerging crypto hubs of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, some real estate developers in the country had announced they would start accepting payments in bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH).

Now the government is looking to clamp down, to ensure that any real estate transactions must be reported to money-laundering watchdogs if they use virtual assets, or funds derived from virtual assets, for even a fraction of the home's value.

The new rules will leave "little or no room for manipulation or illegal practices that could negatively impact the work environment and the economy and investment" in the real estate and legal sectors, UAE Minister for Economics Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri said in a statement.

They would also require brokers, agents and law firms to file reports to the Financial Intelligence Unit, which is responsible for tracking dirty money, and would also apply when the buyer attempts to pay in cash worth over AED 55,000 (around $15,000). The government did not specify any threshold for virtual assets, implying even the smallest bitcoin transactions will be caught.

Global anti-money laundering standard-setter the Financial Action Task Force is attempting to clamp down on using crypto to launder the proceeds of crime or fund terrorism, including via the "travel rule," a controversial way of identifying and tracking payers.

DISCLOSURE

Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Jack Schickler is a CoinDesk reporter focused on crypto regulations, based in Brussels, Belgium. He doesn’t own any crypto.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Jack Schickler is a CoinDesk reporter focused on crypto regulations, based in Brussels, Belgium. He doesn’t own any crypto.

Investing in the Future of the Digital Economy
October 18-19 | Spring Studio, NYC