November 27,2019

MENA FCCG releases MENA Financial Crime Survey in collaboration with UAB

Building on the MENA Financial Crime Compliance Group’s (MENA FCCG’s) commitment to bring collective action in the fight against financial crime, the Union of Arab Banks in collaboration with the FCCG launched a survey on AML and CTF practices. The purpose of the survey was to gain better understanding of how MENA banks measure against the global yardstick, identify pain points, and collect views on key efforts that would result in enhanced financial crime detection and prevention across the region.

According to Mr. Wissam Fattouh, Chairman MENA FCCG and the Secretary General of the Union of Arab Banks: “MENA banks are increasingly bringing their AML/CTF programs in alignment with international leading practices.” For example, the survey revealed increased reliance on advanced technological solutions, targeted and risk-based training programs, and enhanced oversight over group operations.

Given the reputational risks associated with non-compliance, it is no surprise MENA banks are embracing specialized compliance teams; (63%) of respondents have a dedicated AML Investigative Team, (56%) have a dedicated Sanctions and Embargo Team, while (34%) have a dedicated Financial Intelligence Team, a trend that is likely to increase.

The survey also aimed to collect insights on MENA banks’ key areas of concern and what they believe will add greater value in the collective fight against financial crime. Uncertainties related to US sanctions topped the list of areas of concern among (70%) of respondents while KYC update and tuning transaction monitoring solutions came second and third respectively.

Roughly two thirds of respondents believe more collaboration with Central Banks/AML Units and correspondent banks is critical for enhancing AML/CTF performance while (56%) cite more involvement of the Board of Directors as a key factor. The Group founder and current Deputy Chair, Mr. Michael Matossian, EVP and Head of Group Regulatory Compliance at Arab Bank stated “effective partnership requires continued dialogue on how best to achieve mutual objectives starting with knowledge sharing, including a consensus on priority risk areas and concerns.” The survey offers in-depth insights on the status quo and essentials for enhanced financial crime detection and prevention from a strategic lens.

Mr. Antoine Hobeiche, Strategic Advisor and Managing Partner-React Adapt Lead, stated “the report is a comprehensive guide for compliance executives, regulators, and financial intelligence units alike. It can help identify common obstacles, including areas for improvement vis-a-vis reliable industry benchmarks.”

MENA FCCG will steer future dialogue and technical assistance initiatives towards relieving cited concerns and areas identified as critical for effectively managing financial crime.  Click to download the survey.