The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has slammed Qatar Central Bank (QCB) for making little effort to enforce its own regulations prohibiting virtual asset service providers.

In a report published on May 31, the global money-laundering and terrorist financing watchdog highlighted that Qatar needs to advance its capabilities to effectively combat evolving forms of criminal activity, including sanctioning virtual asset service providers.

“It needs to improve understanding of more complex forms of money laundering and terrorist financing,” it stated.

It was only in December 2019 that Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA) announced that virtual asset services may not be conducted in or from the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC).

The regulatory authority warned at the time that penalties will be imposed in accordance with the QFCRA’s rights and obligations to any firm that provides or facilitates the provision or exchange of crypto assets.

According to FATF’s recent report, while Qatar has made “positive and sustained progress” in gathering beneficial ownership information for its nearly completed unified register – a consolidation of data of its citizens – there is still more work to be done:

“There are still not sufficient controls to ensure that all information collected remains accurate and up-to-date.”

Qatar’s authorities were urged to improve their investigative efforts towards money laundering, as it was alleged its “sophisticated analysis capabilities” to identify instances of money laundering are not being fully utilized.

Related: UK financial watchdog to crypto industry: ‘Let’s work together’

While Qatar has banned virtual asset service providers, it has revealed that it is actively exploring potential use cases for implementing a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

It was previously reported in June 2022 that Qatar Central Bank (QCB) is in the “foundation stage” of issuing a CBDC.

The QCB governor Sheikh Bandar bin Mohammed bin Saoud Al Thani revealed at the time that the central bank was “evaluating the pros and cons” of CBDCs and working out the right technology and platform.

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