KUWAIT: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s anti-money laundering and terrorism funding department urged real estate bodies, including the real estate union, real estate brokers’ union and real estate assessors, to contact it as soon as possible to make their suggestions prior to issuing a ministerial decision soon on fighting suspicious real estate transactions.
The letter that the ministry sent read as follows: “With reference to law number 106/2013 pertaining with fighting money laundering and terrorism funding, and with reference to ministerial decision number 37/2013 on issuing the executive chart of the money laundering and terrorism funding law, we would like to inform you that the ministry was in the process of preparing a ministerial decision in this regard.”
The sources added that the anticipated decision would re-organize and regulate the professions of real estate brokers, offices, agencies and companies according to the aforementioned law. The sources also noted that the decision would also set new strict measures to track down any of the incriminated suspicious transactions as well as regulate local real estate markets by monitoring local transactions and real estate exhibitions held in Kuwait. Further, the sources noted that ministry urged the addressed bodies to respond within a week and to set an appointment for an urgent meeting to be held as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, banking and financial sources said that auditing bodies were currently conducting wide scale auditing and inspection on financial and brokerage companies, funds, portfolios and banks, to verify their commitment to anti-money laundering policies at all their units and branches. The sources added that according to instructions of the Capital Markets Authority (CMA), anti-money laundering measures also apply for the branches of those companies or banks abroad.
Further, the sources pointed that inspections might also include the policies of the fees collected for those companies’ services by limiting the maximum non-refundable cash fees to be collected to KD 100, to be paid directly by the client or by his/her legal representative.
The source added that the ban would include brokerage companies that sued to accept settlement differences of over KD 1,000 in cash. “This measure will be replaced by deduction from the client’s account,” explained the sources, noting that Kuwaiti companies subject to those new measures would have to be very cautious on dealing with companies registered outside Kuwait and verify clients’ identity to prevent manipulators infiltration. Moreover, the sources said that CMA goes beyond those measures by mandating licensed companies to check and verify the true identity of a foreign body or company before carrying on with acquisition plans. — Al-Rai, Al-Jarida