Posted on : Thu, 11 Feb 2010

Doha, 11 February 2010 - Under the patronage of the National Committee for Anti-Money Laundering & Combating Terrorism Financing (NAMLC), QNB held a workshop on “Compliance, Anti-Money Laundering (AML) & Combating Terrorist Financing (CTF)” at the Diplomatic Club on Wednesday, 10 February, 2010.

The workshop aimed to combine the efforts of QNB and the NAMLC in uniting governmental agencies and departments in addition to financial institutions. The workshop was headlined by many top representatives of the banking and financial sector including H.E. Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud Al-Thani, Governor, Qatar Central Bank (QCB); H.E. Sheikh Fahad bin Faisal Al-Thani, Deputy Governor, QCB, and Chairman of NAMLC; H.E. Sheikh Ahmad bin Eid Al-Thani, Head of the Financial Information Unit (FIU) and Mr. Ali Shareef Al Emadi, QNB Group Chief Executive Officer.

During his address, H.E. Sheikh Fahad Bin Faisal Al Thani, said the main goal of the workshop is to provide an opportunity for dialogue and consequently help develop the expertise of officials involved in combating both money laundering and terrorist financing activities, as well as helping compliance officers at Qatar’s many financial institutions amplify their efforts to eliminate suspicious transactions.”

He identified training as fundamental to the fight against money laundering and financing terrorism and said this was the inspiration behind forming a central committee for training and increasing awareness among all stakeholders in Qatar.

H.E. Sheikh Fahad said Qatar has witnessed many such developments in recent times. The NAMLC has already drafted a national legislative policy to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism which lays out a framework for efficient reporting in line with international standards.

During his inaugural address QNB Group Chief Executive Officer Mr. Ali Shareef Al Emadi thanked H.E. Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud Al Thani, the Governor of the QCB, H.E. Sheikh Fahad bin Faisal Al Thani, Deputy Governor of the QCB and Chairman of the NAMLC, and H.E. Sheikh Ahmed bin Eid Al Thani , Head of the Financial Information Unit (FIU), and other government representatives for their interest in this workshop and for contributing to strengthening the role of compliance and AML/CTF function at banking institutions through their support of these events.

The role of supporting AML/CTF policies is important for each employee working in the banking sector, Mr. Al-Emadi said, and confirmed QNB’s commitment to abiding by the laws, regulations and directives of the QCB and legislative bodies at both the local and international level.

The workshop included a presentation by Mrs. Rania Khoury, Senior Compliance Officer at the Special Investigation Commission (SIC) of Lebanon, who spoke about the quality of reporting standards relating to suspected money laundering and terrorism finance operations. These reports are prepared by financial institutions and forwarded to financial information units such as the SIU in Lebanon and the FIU in Qatar. They must be complete dossiers on suspicious activities involving individuals or entities, the analysis of which will result in providing financial information units with precise information to help prevent such crimes and punish perpetrators, she said.

Mrs. Nora Al Bahar, Legal Researcher at the FIU, later discussed the new AML/CTF law which defines the application of the law and identifies the terms under which persons or entities can be charged of crimes. The law also outlines the penalties and criminal procedures that can be imposed on those found guilty of crimes.

Mr. Ali Al Sulaity, Head of AML/CTF at QCB’s Supervision Department, who was another major speaker on the day, reiterated the importance of adhering to the QCB’s new directives for combating money laundering and terrorist financing. He said all financial institutions have already been asked to commit to these new regulations.

Mr. Talal Al Abdullah of the Qatar FIU, later reviewed the new requirements for filing reports to the FIU on suspicious activities, which will use these findings to further develop regulatory tools that help to identify and swiftly elimininate money laundering and terrorism financing operations.

Mr. Saleh Nofal, QNB Group Compliance Officer, while addressing the audience, spoke of the important role of the compliance officer in monitoring operations in adherence with the regulations and best practices set forth by the Basel Committee and the QCB. Mr. Nofal says that beyond the role of compliance, it is important for financial institutions to also establish strong relationships with customers to gain a better understanding of their financial activities and transactions.

Mr. Nofal defined compliance as a tool used by institutions to measure adherence to strict regulations and national legislations. He said the executive management of financial institutions must complement this by building an internal community that abides by these rules.

The Basel Committee in a policy statement issued in 2005, had identified clear responsibilities and requirements of these internal functions and has continued to highlight the importance of Compliance being an independent function within financial institutions. The Committee has also continued to support the important role of the Board of Directors and Executive Management in committing to the implementation of comprehensive compliance frameworks. These include helping compliance units carry out their responsibilities to very high standards which will serve in fortifying the corporate vision of the institution, as well as ensure adherence to all applicable laws and regulations.

The workshop also addressed other issues that financial institutions have to monitor to eliminate money laundering and terrorist financing activities. These include closely monitoring daily transactions and following up on suspect activities in accordance with the regulations of QCB and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). It also identified the role of every employee of financial institutions in implementing policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. This is especially essential to preventing illegal funds from entering the system through new customers or through new financial transactions. This helps support Qatari laws such as Decree Number 28 of 2002 which defines operations related to money laundering and identifies appropriate penalties.

A senior team from QNB Group Compliance, including Rabih Kassis, Mohamed Gado & Riadh Al Fayech, reflected on the Bank’s compliance responsibilities and the role it plays in adhering to ATF/CTF regulations. QNB Group Compliance utilizes various tools and procedures to fight money laundering and terrorist financing. These tools, which also include automated systems, also help the department follow-up and monitor the operations of suspected individuals or entities, which are consequently filed with the Qatar FIU for further review and legal action.

QNB is committed to fighting money laundering & terrorist financing activities and coordinates closely with the NAMLC and the FIU to ensure prompt disclosure of suspect transactions and continues to consult with these bodies on ways of enhancing AML/CTF activities and to exchange knowledge, ensuring full transparency during the process, especially considering the integral role that the financial services industry has in the State of Qatar.

The Bank adheres to a unified reporting standard that has been adopted by the QCB and the NAMLC to guide financial institutions in their reporting of suspicious transactions to the FIU. These reports are filed upon completion of internal checks and controls to verify all pertinent documentation that supports such claims.

To combat money laundering and terrorist financing activities, QNB Group proposed a fresh and comprehensive review of all the Bank's business activities to be carried out in compliance with QCB regulations and all national AML/CTF laws and regulations.

QNB Group has also committed to adhere to these policies across various group activities internationally and implement procedures and control mechanisms to comply with the directives of the QCB and local regulatory bodies.

The Group is developing more enhanced automated systems to supervise and control functions such as the opening of accounts and other daily operations of the Bank, including the functions of its general administrative departments and of foreign affiliates in line with local and international regulatory and legislative requirements.

The Bank will also continue conducting training programs for its staff throughout the year to keep them informed of updates and new developments in the effort to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.