November 10,2016

Inaugural Meeting Opening Remarks

Mr. Wissam H. Fattouh, Chairman, MENA FCCG, Union of Arab Banks Secretary General

Dear All,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to this group. The fact that you are here today demonstrates the extent of your commitment to share thoughts and insights for better financial crime detection and prevention. This Group provides a platform to engage with multi-stakeholders to find solutions to promote best AML/CTF practices in a collaborative, open and transparent manner.

The idea of forming a dedicated MENA AML/CTF working group was first raised during the Public Private Sector Dialogue (PSD) meeting in New York in October 2014. The suggestion was applauded by the Union of Arab Banks. It was followed by a series of discussions were we agreed on the initial Financial Institutions that were contacted to form the Founding Members of the MENA FCCG as well as key governing documents and the assignment of roles and responsibilities to ensure group efficiency. In this regard, we must particularly appreciate the efforts of Michael Matossian; Chief Compliance Officer and Global Head of Regulatory Compliance at Arab Bank.

UAB will act as a MENA Strategic Partner to the Group. In this capacity, UAB role consists of:

  • Supporting the objectives of the MENA FCCG and the work within its communities
  • Facilitating liaisons with international or local, governmental agencies, regulatory bodies, specialized organizations
  • Aiding the group in engaging in public relations & networking initiatives
  • Collaborating, where required, on common endeavors such as research, surveys and reports

As banks, you compete with each other. At the broader industry level, you must collaborate with each other to reach common ground to find solutions that target the uniqueness of the region; MENA FCCG provides an ample opportunity to achieve this objective.

Whilst you have built up considerable AML/CTF processes, controls, and expertise over the years, in recent years, developments including those of geopolitical nature has increased the risk levels in the region including terror finance. Hence the momentum on AML/CFT efforts must be brought to a higher level. The evolving environment requires proactive and collective actions in all jurisdictions. It is therefore important that, we continue to work together to stay abreast of current developments and continue to guard against financial flows associated with money laundering, terrorism, weapons proliferation, corruption, and most recently, tax crimes which was added to the list of FATF money laundering offences.

Looking ahead, this Group provides a prospect for leveraging on each other’s resources and sharing information. I expect this Group to grow in stature and size over the years.