MECOF Moderator Presided Over International Conference on Governance, Risk and Compliance
The ACC 3rd Annual International GRC & Financial Crimes Conference was recently held in Dubai. The event witnessed high attendance from the MENA region and presence of senior officials. Hany Abou-El-Fotouh, Chief of Staff of Cairo-based investment bank CI Capital – was the chairperson and moderator of the conference. Hany is also the owner and moderator of Middle East Compliance Officers Forum (MECOF)
In his inauguration speech, Abou-El-Fotouh said, "As a result of the financial crisis of 2008 financial institutions and regulators have taken measures to protect the financial sector against future failures. An important area is the need for better transparency, mainly regarding remuneration, and how boards should improve their corporate governance practices to reduce the chances of a repeat of the credit crunch."
Stressing this theme, he said, "There are several recommendations for good governance available for the board of directors. However, the most important '10 commandments` include: tone at the top; qualified board members; independent non-executive directors; board-risk governance; expansion of the scope of the remuneration committee; IT governance; rigorous board evaluation; managing conflicts of interest; tracking governance failures and monitoring clients' governance."
Speaking on risk governance, Abou-El-Fotouh explained that the board should never be in a position of being surprised by failures and deficiencies. To prevent such surprises, the board should establish a board risk committee to work in tandem with existing audit committee. The risk committee would concentrate on risk strategy and management, free from any conflict with demands placed on audit committees. The risk committee has authority to seek external advice to test its risk management assumptions, particularly in the context of risk related to significant transactions.
He further added, "the board should periodically review and revise its strategic plan that assesses all risks in many areas such as customer base, geographies, products and services, distribution channels, and mergers and acquisitions, cross-border transactions. The board needs to be clear on higher-risk transactions, areas and issues."
Addressing the delegates about anti-money laundering governance, Abou-El-Fotouh said that money laundering is a global concern that requires intensive international action. The huge amounts of dirty money injected into the international financial markets may also undermine the financial system. He further added that regulators expect to see convincing evidence that banks and other financial institutions govern themselves well. An important measurement of AML good governance is how well senior management and board of directors are being informed about key aspects of AML compliance, risk management and events that may call for their attention."
He concluded by saying that despite the global effort and progress achieved to deter financial crimes and improve governance practices, there is a considerable amount of work still to be done in this area.