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Adlem ... raising awareness on key financial issues.

Financial crime compliance seen rising in Mena

DUBAI, November 4, 2015

A majority of Mena business leaders and senior compliance specialists expect to spend significantly more on sanctions and financial crime compliance over the next 12 to 18 months with increasing financial crime risks across the region.

Meanwhile, an even greater majority (74 per cent) predict that Mena businesses are set for a significant increase in compliance risk scrutiny from global banks and regulators.

The findings were revealed during the recently held Sanctions and Financial Crime Symposium in Dubai, UAE and organised by EY Mena, a professional services firm.

A total of 300 business leaders, compliance professionals and industry experts were present at the event and took part in an exclusive poll. Findings also revealed that 63 per cent expect interaction with global correspondent banks relating to sanctions and financial crime matters to be significantly more over the same time period.

The majority of business representatives present at the event (64 per cent) said their organization had conducted a sanctions and financial crime risk assessment within the last year, although 20 per cent said their organization had never undertaken such an exercise.

Michael Adlem, Mena Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services leader, EY, said:  “The results of our exclusive poll show that never before have financial crime challenges and risks been greater across the Mena region.”

“There is a significant awareness of an increased level of scrutiny across the Mena region from regulators and banks – and this level will further increase over the next 12 to 18 months.

“As a result, businesses are prepared to put the resources needed into ensuring their compliance standards are up to scratch. Raising awareness on key issues such as financial crime, sanctions, money laundering, illicit finance, and other risk management challenges will help businesses in the region to be better equipped to manage the sanctions and financial crime risks,” he added.

“The call for vigilance is a real one. This is a very interesting time in the world of compliance; businesses in Mena need to know how to evolve to keep up with the changing sanctions landscape,” Adlem continued.

“For banks, knowing who your customers are and what’s going on in the transactions will require additional time and investment; we’re currently not seeing the required level of scrutiny and investigation that is actually needed.

“There will be a constant pressure to maintain this level of diligence but if there is a continued effort to thoroughly understand the risks, identify where the risks lie and put controls in place to mitigated risk, relationships between businesses can be protected through transparent and clear communication. Compliance is a tricky landscape and protecting institutions against risk is not an easy job. What is certain is that more can definitely been done to protect against these risks,” he added.

Stuart Jones, executive director, Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services at EY said: "Regional banks' access to the international financial system is a critical pillar in the economic growth of Mena.  Enhancing risk management and compliance effectiveness is a necessary step in keeping channels open for banks.  This includes compliance stress testing, risk assessments, urgent attention to customer due diligence and a proactive approach to technology driven next-generation compliance tool.” – TradeArabia News Service




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