by Katriina Kuusniemi
Argentum Law attended the Global Investigations Review (GIR) Live, the first of its kind in Dubai, on November 14, 2022.
The event gathered bankers, regulators, compliance professionals, litigation and arbitration attorneys and investigations, due diligence and asset tracing specialists from the Middle East region to discuss matters relating to financial crimes and investigations and prosecution thereof.
There were three main topics.
• The first panel discussion centered around navigating a continuously changing global sanctions regime.
• The second panel discussion focused on Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption topics (ABC).
• The third panel discussion explored the relationships between money-laundering (AML) and other financial crimes.
To start off the afternoon, key-note speaker Mr. Patrick Meaney, Head of Enforcement at the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), provided some insights into recent enforcement efforts of the DFSA. The DFSA is actively monitoring the activities of companies registered within the DIFC that are under the DFSA’s regulatory scheme and are principally focusing on anti-money laundering efforts by the financial community it regulates. Recent investigations have centered around major flaws in know-your-client (KYC) processes by banks and other financial institutions. Mr. Meaney made a point of noting that there are various companies registered with the DIFC, which are not regulated by the DFSA (or any other authority), and hence anyone dealing with companies operating within the DIFC are well advised not to assume there is regulatory oversight of all companies and should enquire from their counterparts at the DIFC registered company whether or not it is regulated by the DFSA.
Next covered were sanctions and, not surprisingly, the discussion focused on the various sanctions against Russia and Russian entities. The representative of the UAE Government, Mr. Mohammed Darwish, Section Head of Research and Policies at Executive Office for Control & Non-Proliferation (EOCN) spoke about the UAE sanctions list and how the bespoke AML notification system in the UAE works. In the UAE, EOCN plays an active role in implementing export control and curbing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction with relevant associated technology. EOCN also coordinates and supervises the application of targeted financial sanctions relating to the anti-terrorist lists system.
Finally, following the discussion on sanctions, two panel discussions relating to best practices in ABC and AML programs took place. The key take-aways are that the authorities globally (including in the UAE, in the wider Middle East region and the US department of Justice (DOJ)) are all looking at compliance programs in a more systematic and analytical way. The authorities have moved on from finding “one-size-fits-all” or generic compliance programs satisfactory for the purpose they serve. Companies are instead well advised to design a program that is the result of a “real” risk assessment of their operations, and importantly the company’s “culture of compliance”. Several items will come into play in assessments by the authorities, such as territorial reach of operations, business sector, transactional questions, data privacy questions and more. A bespoke due diligence program of customers and suppliers would also be advised. Further, and perhaps most importantly, the work is not finished when a red-flag report is completed or even when a bespoke compliance program is in place – it needs constant monitoring, training and re-evaluation.
Argentum Law has extensive experience in ethics and compliance advisory support, providing our clients with pragmatic advice and support across a variety of industries:
• Corporate governance and compliance department strategy and formation
• Setting objectives and SLAs and tracking performance
• Standardizing internal reporting
• Marketing and communicating performance internally
• Identifying, acquiring and implementing time saving technologies
• Organizational design and resource optimization
• Spend analytics and management
• Performance benchmarking and metrics
• Anti-bribery and anti-corruption
• Trade sanctions and export control
• Conducting risk assessments, corporate investigations and compliance audits
• Compliance reviews in the context of M&A
• Anti-money laundering
If you have any questions or would like to receive more information about how Argentum Law can support you with your Ethics and Compliance requirements please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.