According to critics, the past prosperity of some Middle Eastern countries has been supported not only by the flow of oil into the global economy, but by corruption and illicit funds. Whatever the fairness of this judgement, there can be little doubt that until recently, a tough approach to financial crime has not been a priority for the leading oil-producing economies of the Middle East.

But this is beginning to change. With the region’s major economic players – Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in particular – now considering a post-oil world, there is increasing recognition that priorities will need to shift.

Finance is thought by many to be the likely ‘new oil’ of the region, and if these countries are to succeed in their ambitions in becoming financial hubs and homes for Financial Technology (FinTech), they will need to address negative perceptions about their past records.

As a result, there is a new competition across the region, with countries vying for the approval of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the international standard setter on FinCrime.

In this session, our panel of experts will take a closer look at the region’s new race to comply with FATF’s standards, assessing the depth, scope and tempo of countries’ efforts to reform, as well as providing an honest appraisal of their impact so far on underlying money laundering, terrorist financing and sanctions evasion risks. If the region does indeed have a gulf to cross, how realistic is it that FinCrime professionals will see quick results?

Host:

• Maya Braine, Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, FINTRAIL

Panellists:

• Aamir Hanif, UK Money Laundering Reporting Officer and EMEA Financial Crimes, Stripe

Ibtissem Lassoued, Partner, Head of Advisory for Regional Financial Crime at Al Tamimi & Company, and Chair of the Global Coalition to Fight Financial Crime - Middle East & North Africa Chapter

Nadine Ghosn Eid, Director – Head of Compliance, areeba 

Collin Lobo, Chief Compliance Officer MENAT, HSBC Bank Middle East Limited

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