header banner

The watchdog on financial crimes has criticized Qatar for not enforcing the ban on cryptocurrencies

Paris-based group says Qatar not doing enough to address loopholes in cryptocurrency that can be exploited by terrorist groups

Centre: Qatar's Central Bank Gov. Sheikh Bandar Bin Mohammed Bin Saoud al-Thani at Council of Arab Central Banks and Monetary Authorities meeting in Saudi Arabia's Jeddah, on 18 September 2022 (AFP)

Published date: 2 June 2023 21:23 BST | Last update: 5 months 2 weeks ago

A financial watchdog has raised concerns that Qatar is not doing enough to address loopholes in cryptocurrency that can be exploited by terrorist groups for financing.

The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) urged the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) to ramp up efforts to identify and sanction virtual asset service providers (VASPs) that violate the Gulf state's 2019 crypto prohibition.

“Qatar has not demonstrated that the competent authorities proactively identify and take enforcement action for potential breaches” of the prohibition on crypto firms announced by the Qatar Financial Center Regulatory Authority in 2019, the report said.

“No formal sanctions have been applied on a natural or legal person for contravening the prohibition,” even in a case where an unlicensed crypto provider was allegedly found operating in the country, it added.

The watchdog said that Qatar had a very strong overall level of compliance with FATF standards. The report cited 2,007 crypto transactions that were rejected and 43 accounts closed for digital asset links, but said more needed to be done.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

VIDEO: 🇶🇦 Qatar Hesitates on Enforcing Crypto Ban

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Qatar’s central bank released a statement saying the report demonstrates “the country’s commitment to combatting illicit financing”.

“The State of Qatar is particularly effective in the areas of assessing and understanding the risks of money laundering and terrorism financing,” the Central Bank added.

Policymakers and regulators worldwide have been alarmed about the potential use of cryptocurrencies in financing terrorism and money laundering.

Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, provide a high degree of anonymity, which makes them appealing to criminals and groups targeted by sanctions.

FATF decisions are closely watched because they impact how countries’ financial systems are perceived around the world. The G7-created body has the power to “blacklist” banking systems if they determine enough isn’t being done to stop money laundering and terrorist financing.

On Wednesday the UAE Central Bank rolled out new anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism guidance lines for financial institutions dealing with virtual assets based on FATF guidelines.

The Gulf state, which includes the trade-to-tourism hub Dubai, was placed on the FATF 23-“grey list“ in March last year for failing to do enough to combat illicit finance. Yemen, Syria, and South Sudan are included on the list.

Washington has called the UAE a "country of focus" as it looks to crack down on Moscow’s sanctions evasion amid the war in Ukraine. Qatar, a gas-rich Gulf state of just 300,000 nationals, has generally not been a destination for wealthy Russians, but it is a base for groups like Hamas and the Taliban, which the US has labelled terrorist organisations.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.


Article information

Author: Kimberly Kirk

Last Updated: 1700229481

Views: 718

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (55 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kimberly Kirk

Birthday: 1952-07-02

Address: USS Johnson, FPO AA 36469

Phone: +3736210358217314

Job: Article Writer

Hobby: Dancing, Beekeeping, Writing, Running, Robotics, Arduino, Quilting

Introduction: My name is Kimberly Kirk, I am a priceless, Colorful, risk-taking, vibrant, honest, fearless, enterprising person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.