Conversations: Shawki Ahwash, North Africa Commercial Bank

Course Duration: 23 minutes
Course Points: 20

This week Fridays with Fintelekt hosted by Shirish Pathak, Managing Director, Fintelekt features Shawki Ahwash, Head of AML/CFT & Sanctions Division, North Africa Commercial Bank from Beirut, Lebanon.

A career banker, Shawki enjoys sharing the knowledge that he has gained with others through training and teaching. He feels that AML/CFT is a dynamic and evolving field and technology has changed everything about it – be it onboarding, profiling or monitoring of customers and transactions.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, banks have had to take proactive measures to combat fraud and cybercrime and have had to sensitize their clients. The need of the hour is to upgrade and re-skill front-line staff that is dealing directly with the customer.

For AML/CFT to become more effective, he recommends that banks and financial institutions conduct a separate risk assessment for sanctions and AML, ascertain the quality of data to reduce false positives and move away from filing defensive STRs. High quality STRs which provide the underlying predicate offence, an elaborate narrative, profile of clients and the circumstances of the transaction to the extent possible will contribute to the regulator’s database and aid the understanding of newer trends and typologies.

On the new AML law in the UAE, Shawki thinks that many Arab or GCC countries may copy some of the steps – around screening, targeted financial sanctions, DNFBPs, etc. – to fortify their regulatory environment on anti-financial crime.

For many regional trends and insights on crypto, financial inclusion, screening, and others, tune in to the entire episode.