The Union of Arab Banks (UAB) has launched the Euro – Arab Banking Dialogue to discuss eliminating sources of terrorist financing and addressing money laundering operations.
This discussion was held during the Euro-Arab Banking Dialogue conference organised by UAB in the Belgian capital, Brussels, on combating the financing of terrorism.
Chairman of the Union of Arab Banks, Mohamed Barakat, the President of the European Banking Federation (EBF) and Vice President of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), opened the conference. Those attending included representatives of the European Central Bank, the European Commission, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and the US Department of Treasury.
During the conference, Mohamed Barakat said if anti-money laundering initiatives and efforts to combat the financing of terrorism were to be effective, those involved needed a thorough understanding of the risks which banks and countries are exposed to, as well as weaknesses that can be exploited by criminals.
He also explained that compliance with laws and regulations of AML/CFT within financial institutions requires a high commitment at all levels, as well as the necessary tools and infrastructure.
Barakat added that reducing and eliminating risks reflects the will of some correspondent banks to reduce or cut business ties with banks in high-risk classified areas, which may conflict with other key targets set by international institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to reduce poverty in the world and encourage growth through banking activities, creating employment opportunities, as well as through financial integration.
Barakat also said the banking and financial sectors in the Arab and European regions play a crucial role in combatting the financing of terrorist activities, and they bear a heavy responsibility to ensure proper protection against the illegal flow of funds.
He added that the initiative launched by the Union of Arab Banks is a top priority, and designed for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, in a bid to join efforts to combat the financing of terrorism.
Further, Wissam Fattouh, Secretary-General of the Union of Arab Banks, said the union has succeeded in uniting Arab – American banking efforts through the initiative, which it launched in 2006 in New York.
He added that the role of the financial and banking sector in combating the financing of terrorism and money laundering is very important, especially in discussing cooperation between security forces and the financial sector to reduce suspicious transactions.
According to Fattouh, this initiative came to fall within the framework of a dialogue between Arab and European banks, since both Arab and European countries have faced many terrorist operations, which the banking sector could play a major role in fighting.