November 06,2023

MENA FCCG Holds 2nd Plenary Meeting of 2023

On November 1, 2023, MENA FCCG conducted its second Plenary Meeting of the year (virtual meeting). Dr. Wissam Fattouh commenced the meeting commending members’ passion and commitment that have contributed to unprecedented achievements over the past 12 months. These include working with the American University of Beirut (AUB) on a Trade-Based Financial Crime (TBFC) Certificate Program, publishing a Culture Assessment Guide and Questionnaire (available in both Arabic and English language), as well as preparation of a Guide on Illegal Trade in Wildlife (soon to be finalized and posted on MENA FCCG website).

Mr. Michael Matossian, MENA FCCG Deputy Chair, echoed Dr. Wissam’s remarks calling for members to promote these significant deliverables as part of outreach to the global wider community ensuring they achieve their intended objective of building capacity in the area combating financial crime.

The meeting also provided members with an update on the newly established Artificial Intelligence Working Group (AI WG) that conducted its first in-person meeting in October 2023 in UAE. By way of background, MENA FCCG decided in its Plenary Meeting in May 2023 to establish the AI WG aiming to gather Tech Leads from member banks to discuss latest Combating Financial Crime (CFC) technology initiatives and applications (AI, Advanced Analytics, Machine Learning (ML), Robotic Process Automation, etc.). Among the AI WG key deliverables is to share knowledge among member banks across the CFC AI domain aiming ultimately towards applying new/improved applications of AI, conduct seminars targeting different stakeholders including other banks (in the region or globally), regulatory bodies, and technology companies, as well as analyze local mandates and improve member banks AI readiness to meet/exceed AI regulatory expectations.

Mr. Thomas Noone, Head of MENA FCCG’s Europe Chapter also joined the meeting and provided a brief on the meeting at the Arab Bankers Association (ABA) offices in London attended by CEOs of Arab banks operating in the UK and representatives from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority where he presented the newly released Culture Assessment Guide (hard copies were also provided). He also briefed members about planned actions including a CFC Summit bringing together Arab Banks operating in Europe during 1Q, 2024.

Mr. John Cusack, Chair of the Global Coalition for Fighting Financial Crime (GCFFC) attended as a guest speaker where he provided an update on GCFFC planned initiatives, including the formation of the GCFFC Financial Institutions Group. The Group is intended to represent the private sector – Banking and FIs from around the world, focused on global standards, benchmarking, and information exchange. Two members from the MENA FCCG will participate in this Group.

The meeting was also attended by Mr. Patrick Fitzgerald, Director of Executive MBA, AUB Suliman S. Olayan School of Business, Head of Online Learning who delivered a presentation on the TBFC Certificate Program in collaboration with MENA FCCG and GCFFC – MENA Chapter. The Program offers a unique gateway for participants including from public and private sectors to acquire related skills and knowledge in the sphere of combating TBFC. Level I (Foundation Course) will be launched in 1Q, 2024 while Level II (TBFC) will be launched in 2Q 2024.

Members also deliberated key 2024 planned actions which include a FATCA/CRS Webinar for banks in Egypt, a Privacy and Data Protection Webinar for banks in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, and a Guide on conducting Enterprise Combating Financial Crime (CFC) Risk Assessments (in Arabic Language). The Group is also set to align with the GCFFC – MENA Chapter on another initiative following their collaboration on the TBFC Certificate Program. The Group also discussed geographical expansion of its membership to include banks from Saudi Arabia and North Africa.

Members concluded the meeting with agreeing on the next in-person Plenary Meeting, tentatively scheduled during the last week of April 2024 – location to be finalized.