April 24,2019

MENA FCCG Holds its Plenary Meeting and a Workshop with the Wolfsberg Group

The MENA Financial Crime Compliance Group (MENA FCCG) held its Plenary Meeting on April 11, 2019 at the Four Seasons Hotel, Amman – Jordan. This private event is of great significance to the region’s banking sector as it united the strategic compliance members of the Group where they discussed how to best further their actions for making MENA a safer place to do business including through enhanced outreach, dialogue, and targeted training.

The MENA FCCG is an industry-driven, voluntary initiative, currently consisting of 13 proactive leading financial institutions from nine MENA countries that seeks to bring collective action in the fight against money laundering and terrorist finance in the region. The Group, incepted in 2016, is presided over by Mr. Wissam Fattouh, Secretary General of the Union of Arab Banks (UAB) while both UAB and Refinitiv act as strategic partners to the Group.  According to Mr. Fattouh: MENA FCCG will continue to capitalize on its members collective capacity and to weave strong relationships with public and private partners building on its record in the fight against financial crime in the MENA region. The first quarter of 2019 also produced significant accomplishments including a series of whitepapers  and outreach initiatives  reinforced by involvements in prominent events including the OECD Seminar “Public and Private Sectors’ Alliances in the Fight against Corruption in MENA and GCC Countries” in Kuwait and the Oman FIU AML/CFT workshop in Muscat. 

The purpose of the Plenary Meeting was to deliberate key priorities for 2019-2020 and how to best steer the collective efforts towards areas in need for greater intervention. Key planned actions for 2019 include conducting the second MENA FCCG Regional Compliance Forum and enhanced awareness and training initiatives addressing thorny issues among which compliance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  Amidst the Group’s planned activities is also the publication of a MENA wide compliance survey results, which have unveiled certain areas of improvement that the region needs to focus on within the coming years. The Group is also contemplating conducting a Workshop with Financial Intelligence Unit (FIUs); this first of its kind MENA workshop is intended to pave the way for driving significant change in the area of public private sector dialogue in the region.

The members concluded the meeting with electing Mr. Michael Matossian, EVP and Global Head of Group Regulatory Compliance, Arab Bank as the new Deputy Chair for a second two-year term.  In concluding the Group’s fruitful Plenary Meeting, Mr. Matossian said: since its inception three years ago, the Group has yielded significant accomplishments. Looking forward, the Group will continue to deliver on its mission; working together constructively and cooperatively to ensure combating financial crime efforts are more precise and effective in tackling the magnitude of risks we face.

As part of the Plenary Dinner, MENA FCCG was honored to have the participation of Ms. Dana Junbulat, Chief of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing Unit, Jordan. Ms. Junbulat delivered an engaging speech addressing among other things the role of banks in protecting the communities they serve and evolving financial crime risks. Ms. Junbulat noted: You all have the appetite and stamina to fight financial crime. However, in steering your efforts your best compass is and should always be your sense of responsibility towards your markets and communities. Looking at financial crime as a business imperative rather than a regulatory objective, you are better equipped to bring value in the fight against financial crime.

On April 12, 2019, MENA FCCG conducted a workshop with the Wolfsberg Group on the revised Wolfsberg Correspondent Banking Due Diligence Questionnaire (CBDDQ).  The Wolfsberg Group is an association of thirteen of the most influential global financial institutions from North America, Europe and Asia.  The Workshop is a continuation to the MENA FCCG’s partnership with Wolfsberg which started in December 2017 in Paris. Representing the Wolfsberg Group, the CBDDQ workshop was lead by Mr. Angus Grandfield, Acting Head of FCC Germany and Americas FCC CIB Standard Chartered Bank AG and member of the Wolfsberg Group CBDDQ Steering Committee. The Workshop builds on MENAFCCG’s commitment to support the proper implementation of the Wolfsberg’s CBDDQ across the MENA region. It aims to equip MENA FCCG members with enhanced knowledge of the revised CBDDQ to be conveyed to MENA banks via targeted awareness initiatives including webinars and member presentations. Mr. Angus welcomed the event concluding: as we share the same overarching objective, there is no doubt that collaboration and dialogue between different stakeholders and across borders is the only way by which we can turn the vulnerabilities of globalization into an advantage.