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The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) has criticized the Central Bank of Qatar (QCB) for not making much of an effort to enforce its own rules banning virtual asset service providers.
In a report published on May 31, the global organization to combat money laundering and terrorist financing stressed that Qatar needs to build its capacity to effectively combat evolving forms of criminal activity, including the imposition of sanctions against virtual asset service providers.
“There is a need to improve understanding of more complex forms of money laundering and terrorist financing,” the statement said.
In case you missed, find out more about the effectiveness of Qatar’s measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing in the FATF-MENAFATF mutual evaluation report ➡️https://t.co/CwEJTZnb0M#moneylaundering #terroristfinancing #aml #cft #FollowTheMoney pic.twitter.com/IFiaCRxWju
— FATF (@FATFNews) June 1, 2023
In December 2019, the Qatar Financial Center Regulatory Authority (QFCRA) announced that virtual asset services could not be provided in or from the Qatar Financial Center.
At the time, the regulator warned that there would be penalties in line with QFCRA’s rights and obligations towards any firm that provides or facilitates the provision or exchange of crypto-currency assets.
According to a recent FATF report, while Qatar has made “positive and sustained progress” in collecting beneficial ownership information for its near-complete single registry – consolidating data on its citizens – there is still a lot of work to be done:
“There are still not enough controls to ensure that all information collected remains accurate and up to date.”
The Qatari authorities have called for improvements in their money laundering investigative efforts, and it has been argued that its “sophisticated analytical capabilities” to detect money laundering cases are not being fully utilized.
Related: UK Cryptocurrency Financial Watchdog: ‘Let’s Work Together’
While Qatar has banned virtual asset service providers, it has said it is actively exploring potential use cases for implementing a central bank digital currency (CBDC).
Earlier in June 2022, it was reported that QCB was in the “seed stage” of issuing a CBDC.
Qatar central bank governor Sheikh Bandar bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Thani said at the time that QCB was “evaluating the pros and cons” of CBDC and developing the right technology and platform.