Bahrain emerges as a regional banking hub: BAB Chief

Adnan Ahmed Yousif, BAB Chairman led the BAB Board to Washington meeting

Washington: The Kingdom of Bahrain’s banking and financial sector has been known as a regional leader since many decades, says a senior banking and financial expert.

This came as Bahrain Banking Association (BAB)’s hosted annual reception in the US capital Washington highlighting the importance of the banking industry in

“BAB promoted Bahrain as a regional and global financial and banking centre and provided the opportunity for Bahraini banks to meet with the largest possible number of officials in Arab and international banks and exploring the avenues of strengthening cooperation with them,” Adnan Ahmed Yousif, BAB Chairman told the participants of the reception on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank.

During the reception, the association also organised media presentations highlighting Bahrain’s economy, development indicators, information on the advantages enjoyed by the national economy and investment opportunities, and information on the financial and banking sector in the Kingdom.

“This great success would not have been possible without the strong support of all stakeholders in the Government of Bahrain, particularly the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of Bahrain, the Economic Development Board and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain in the United States. We extend our thanks and appreciation to all of them. We also thank all banks and institutions that have provided sponsorship and support for this great event,” he said.

“The reception this year was attended by a large group of ministers and banking officials led by the Minister of Finance Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, the Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain Rasheed Al Maraj, and a number of Arab central banks’ governors, and a large crowd of CEOs and officials in Bahraini, Arab and international banks.

“We are delighted that our efforts are converging, unifying and complementing the efforts of the Central Bank of Bahrain, which is making every effort to strengthen the position of the banking industry in Bahrain and with the efforts of the Economic Development Board, which has made the financial sector one of the main sectors to attract investments from around the world. The Bahrain Association of Banks organizes the event in order to encourage international financial and banking institutions and international investors to take Bahrain as a financial and investment center, thus contributing to the diversification of the Kingdom’s national economy.”

“The activities of BAB this year included participation in the high-level US – MENA Private Sector Dialogue on combating the financing of terrorism and strengthening relations with the correspondent banks, which was organized by US Federal Reserve and the Union of Arab Banks in New York. We have given a speech at the meeting on behalf of the Association, in which we call for caution and accuracy in the application of de-risking measures by global correspondent banks as this may prompt more customers to go outside the formal banking system, which increases the risk of non-compliance. We also called for de-risking procedures to be based on comprehensive assessments, and should be done based on data and not done randomly. At the same time, however, we have shown our understanding that the US Dollar clearing banks are under pressure from the regulators, and as a result we have De-Risking and the clearing banks have put in place new requirements such as “Know Your Customer’s Customer or KYCC.

“We at Bahrain Association of Banks always urge banks in Bahrain to comply with compliance standards at a higher level than is required through modernizing legislation, improving systems, technical and human resources to make them stronger, with the support and supervision of the CBB. Over the past years, the CBB has tightened its control and compliance legislation on banks in Bahrain, which in turn have spent significant sums on the development of compliance infrastructure and IT systems. Cooperation with the Bahrain Institute for Banking and Financial Studies (BIBF) has also been carried out to issue highly professional certificates in compliance and AML / CFT courses.

“During the dialogue, we raised the idea that the forms of combating money laundering should expand to include new fraudulent methods by laundering goods and services, not only money, and the need to issue legislation to protect institutions and banks from such practices.”

“We also suggested that a joint committee of all stakeholders be established. The Committee could form its own task forces on various issues related to this subject. We have nominated a steering group composed of senior colleagues in the Union of Arab Banks to discuss and coordinate policy actions on an ongoing basis with all relevant regulatory authorities and stakeholders. We suggested that the Committee begin its work on the basis of the recommendations emanating from the dialogue so that we could reach some agreed actions by the end of the first quarter of 2018.”

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