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UAE tax authority announces whistleblower program

A major financial center in Dubai also recently launched a whistleblower mechanism as the Emirates seeks to improve financial transparency.
UAE finance

The Emirati Federal Tax Authority today announced the launch of a whistleblower program, effective immediately, the official Emirates News Agency reported

The new program, named Raqeeb, is a reporting mechanism for tax evasion and violations. It aims to raise tax compliance in the United Arab Emirates. 

Raqeeb requires that those reporting the alleged tax violations give their name to the Federal Tax Authority, but their identity will not be disclosed. Complainants must also sign a non-disclosure agreement. Those who report tax violations will be eligible to receive monetary awards, according to a Federal Tax Authority document

Why it matters: The UAE is working to change its reputation as a safe haven for financial wrongdoing after several incidents that reflected poorly on the Gulf state.

  • In March, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force put the UAE on its list of states where money laundering is an issue, along with Syria and Yemen. The Emirati government promised a strong response to the listing. 

  • Also in March, some Russian citizens reportedly bought property in the UAE with cryptocurrency to avoid being affected by sanctions related to the invasion of Ukraine. 

  • In 2021, the Pandora Papers revealed extensive secret money flows in the UAE, including some utilized by criminals. 

  • In 2020, the leak of the FinCEN Files showed how the Emirati Central Bank helped Iran evade US sanctions. 

The Federal Tax Authority is not the only entity in the Emirates to implement a whistleblowing program recently. Last week, the Dubai Financial Services Authority announced a whistleblowing regime. The authority is an independent regulator of Dubai’s International Finance Center, which is home to more than 2,500 companies. 

What’s next: The Federal Tax Authority’s whistleblowing program applies to excise and valued-added taxes at present. The program could take on more significance in 2023 when the UAE introduces a corporate tax for the first time. 

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