The announcement was made by Ayman AlSayari, Vice Governor, SAMA at the Refinitiv 11th Compliance and Anti Money Laundering Seminar organized today by Refinitiv in association with the Financial Academy and under the auspices of Ahmed Abdulkarim Alkholifey, Governor of SAMA and Chairman of the Anti-Money Laundering Permanent Committee (AMLPC).
“In line with our commitment to protect our financial system, we are working diligently and closely with financial institutions to ensure they meet the international standards and also fully execute on our compliance directives and policies. We are continuously exploring new mechanisms to enhance effectiveness in collaboration with both local government entities and international bodies to exchange expertise and fight financial crime activities,” Al Sayari explained.
Mohamed Ismail, Customer Success and Proposition Sales Director, Refinitiv, said: “This year, we celebrated the 5th anniversary of the MENA Financial Crime Report. An analysis of survey responses per country indicates that Know Your Customer is the number one rated financial crime program. Respondents from all countries had KYC in their top three programs and eight of the 12 rated it as their top program,” he said.
Rayan Fayez, Managing Director and CEO, Banque Saudi Fransi, said: “We don’t deal with compliance as a job only, but as a core requirement of our business operations. We have proactively developed several programs to educate the public and compliance officers about the significance of fighting financial crime. As result, we attracted competent compliance managers and also invested in systems and new technologies that enhanced compliance effectiveness.”
“With the acceleration of banking transactions, we need to build a robust compliance system and protect our financial markets. SAMA proved to be instrumental in carrying out awareness activities that enabled our compliance system to grow stronger,” he added.
Adel AlQulish, Senior Advisor to the Governor & Vice-Chairman of the AMLPC, SAMA, said: “We have had several AML laws since 2003. During the past few years, we have been working to fill the gaps in these legacy laws in line with our vision to protect the financial sector and support global efforts in combating financial crime.”
Speaking about the evaluation process, Al Qulish noted that the assessment team came from different countries. “The team had diverse perspectives and interpretations. We knew the process won’t be an easy one and for that reason we started our preparations three years prior to the exercise. The process is rigorous and time challenging. Throughout the exercise, we managed to prove the effectiveness of our system and our capacity to produce solid results.
Mohammed Al-Dughaiyem, Consultant and Director of AML/CTF Department, Ministry of Commerce and Investment, noted that the evaluation process takes seven years. “We overcame the challenges because of our strong leadership. We also reviewed our legacy AML laws and diligently worked on filling the compliance gaps,” he noted.
Lyndsey Merrill, Financial Attaché to the Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, US Department of the Treasury, noted that Saudi’s achievement is a proud moment for the country and truly makes the Kingdom’s leadership in the region. “As other countries preparing for the assessment, it is important and helpful to have a whole government approach and open communications as they embark this ongoing process.”
Naif Alajmi, Head of AML/CFT Compliance, Capital Market Authority, noted that several financial institutions were involved in the assessment process in order to shape a common understanding around risk and compliance. “It is crucial for countries undergoing the assessment exercise to have efficient technologies for data and statics generation. This proved very helpful for us especially with the time challenges and tight deadlines we had to attend to,” he added.