Anti-Money Laundering (AML) in Kuwait
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Money laundering in Kuwait is not a widespread problem. Nevertheless, Kuwait has made significant efforts to maintain a strong Anti-Money Laundering (AML) system.
On March 10, 2002, the Emir of Kuwait signed Law No. 35 criminalizing money laundering. Additionally, the law prohibits financial institutions from keeping or opening any anonymous accounts or accounts in fictitious or symbolic names. The law also requires banks to verify the identity of regular and occasional clients, maintain all records of transactions and customer identification information for a minimum of five years, conduct training and establish internal control systems, and report any suspicious transactions.
On June 23, 2003, the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) issued Resolution No. 1/191/2003, establishing the Kuwaiti Financial Inquiries Unit (KFIU) whose responsibilities include receiving and analyzing reports of suspected money laundering, establishing a database of suspicious transactions, conducting anti-money laundering training, and carrying out domestic and international exchanges of information. The KFIU works in conjunction with the Office of the Public Prosecutor (OPP) to process and exchange information about suspicious money laundering activity.
Law No. 24/2012 established the Anti-Corruption Authority that looks after all AML-related activities for Kuwait as a whole. In May 2013, Law No. 105/2013 came into effect, replacing Law No. 35/2002 and updating the law to reflect all recent developments in the world of AML, including coverage of international treaties regarding terrorist funding and related activities.
AML Training in Kuwait
The Instructions Issued By The Central Bank of Kuwait Regarding Money Laundering require institutions to develop internal policies and training programs for AML operations and for handling suspicious transactions. Training should be up-to-date with the latest developments and must evaluate employees' understanding of policies and procedures.
The Economy of Kuwait
Over the past several years, Kuwait's economy has improved due to better management of government spending, business freedom, monetary freedom, and labor freedom that offset declines in property rights, freedom from corruption, and trade freedom. Kuwait has a geographically small, but wealthy, relatively open economy with crude oil reserves of about 102 billion barrels - more than 6% of world reserves. Kuwait has a GDP (PPP) of $283.9 billion USD (2014 est.), and as of 2015 is ranked 7th out of 15 countries int he Middle East/North Africa region.
Banking In Kuwait
The five largest banks in Kuwait are:
The first bank in Kuwait was established in 1941 by British investors. Subsequent laws prohibited foreign banks from conducting business in the country. When the British bank's concession ended in 1971, the government bought 51 percent ownership. In 1952 another bank, the National Bank of Kuwait, the largest commercial bank, was founded. The establishment of several other banks, all under Kuwaiti ownership, followed. Some specialized financial institutions also emerged: the Credit and Savings Bank, established in 1965 by the government to channel funds into domestic projects in industry, agriculture, and housing; the Industrial Bank of Kuwait, established in 1974 to fill the gap in medium- and long-term industrial financing; and the private Real Estate Bank of Kuwait. By the 1980s, Kuwait's banks were among the region's largest and most active financial institutions.
In 1960 the Indian Rupee was replaced by the Kuwaiti Dinar, which continues to be the currency in Kuwait. Since 1960, five series of Dinar have been issued. It is divided into units of 1000 fils. The Kuwaiti Dinar is one of the highest valued currencies in the world.
Other Key Statistics of Kuwait
Time Zone: UTC/GMT +3 hours.
Location: Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iraq and Saudi Arabia (Geographic coordinates for Kuwait are 29 30 N, 45 45 E.)
Population: 3,996,899 (2014 est.)
Labor Force: 2.397 million (non-Kuwaitis represent about 60% of the labor force (2014 est.))
Unemployment Rate: 3% (2014 est.)
Languages Spoken: Arabic (official), English is widely spoken.