Qatar Central Bank (QCB) has received strong criticism from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for its inadequate enforcement of regulations that prohibit virtual asset service providers. According to a report released on May 31 by the global watchdog for money laundering and terrorist financing, Qatar must enhance its capacities to effectively tackle emerging types of criminal behavior, including the sanctioning of virtual asset service providers.
The report emphasizes the need for Qatar to enhance its comprehension of sophisticated money laundering and terrorist financing methods The Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA) declared in December 2019 that conducting virtual asset services within or from the Qatar Financial Centre is prohibited.
The regulatory authority cautioned that it would impose penalties in line with the rights and obligations of the QFCRA on any company engaged in providing or facilitating the provision or exchange of cryptocurrency assets.
As per the recent report by FATF, Qatar has made significant and continuous advancements in collecting beneficial ownership information through its nearly comprehensive unified register, which consolidated data on its citizens. However, the report also emphasizes that further efforts are required to accomplish the task at hand.
The authorities in Qatar were advised to enhance their investigative endeavors in combating money laundering, as it was claimed that their “sophisticated analysis capabilities” for detecting instances of money laundering are not being fully utilized.
Qatar has prohibited virtual asset service providers, but it is currently exploring the implementation of a central bank digital currency (CBDC). In June 2022, the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) was in the early stages of developing a CBDC. The governor of Qatar’s central bank, Sheikh Bandar bin Mohammed bin Saoud Al Thani, stated that they are assessing the advantages and disadvantages of CBDCs and determining the suitable technology and platform.