Deloitte and PwC shine light on financial crime at UAE conferences

11 October 2019 3 min. read

Financial crime is in the air in Dubai this week – with leaders from Big Four firms Deloitte and PwC sharing their expertise at two separate conferences.  

Financial crime has been a hot topic in Dubai during the week with two separate conferences covering the global $2 trillion-plus economic bane in the past few days; the fourth annual Regulatory and Financial Crime Conference hosted by Deloitte – which featured a number of the firm’s local and international senior leaders – and on the following day, the inaugural MENA FinCrime Symposium, with several financial crime experts from PwC speaking during the event.

Held at the Habtoor Palace Dubai, Deloitte’s fourth annual Regulatory and Financial Crime Conference once again welcomed back the firm’s US-based Global Financial Services Industry Leader Bob Contri, who during the opening remarks shared his thoughts on the future of financial services. Serving at the firm for close to 34 years, Contri leads a Deloitte division which spans more than 40 countries with a headcount of over 65,000, covering Banking & Securities, Insurance, Investment Management, and Real Estate.

Exploring recent developments in the regulatory landscape and how technology and the digital revolution will impact the regulatory regime, general compliance and the wider financial services industry, the conference this year brought together over 200 attendees for a series of addresses and panel discussions on the latest strategies in advancing the financial services industry, highlighting “the need to aspire, innovate and evolve in today’s rapidly changing environment.”

Deloitte and PwC shine light on financial crime at UAE conferences

Joining Contri on the bill from the US was Deloitte’s Global Financial Crime Practice leader Michael Shepard, who moderated a panel on regional considerations around the Financial Action Task Force (FATF – an intergovernmental organisation formed to tackle money laundering), while other international guests included Alex Comyn, Director of Forensic Technology at Deloitte UK, and Deloitte South Africa risk advisory partner and data expert Muzzi Ebrahim.

A large contingent from Deloitte’s UAE office was also present at the forum, including Middle East Forensics Leader Neil Hargreaves, who delivered the closing remarks. Others to appear included Deloitte Corporate Finance Partner and Managing Director Declan Hayes, assistant director May Mhanna, partner Francesco Sarti, and Nick Athanasi, who joined Deloitte’s local branch from the UK as a partner and Forensics Technology Leader at the end of last year.

Financial Crime Director Nipun Srivastava was also a moderator, stating; “In the globalised business environment of the last few years, the regulatory landscape for financial services is not only becoming complex but is resulting in a vital change in the rules of the game of the business.  Whether it’s the prospects provided by FinTech, the opportunities of blockchain, or the varying regulatory landscape, the pace of change confronting the financial services sector is phenomenal.”

Meanwhile, a day later at the JW Marriott Marquis, the first MENA FinCrime Symposium delved into issues around regulatory compliance for local businesses, with 150 financial crime specialists in attendance including PwC panellists Mahmoud Al-Salah (financial crime leader and recently admitted partner), financial crime advisory director Hafed Ajmi (previously together with Al-Salah at Ernst & Young), and fellow director and financial crime expert Helen Brewster.

The latter joined a panel on the tricky subject of tackling financial crime challenges in post-merger integrations, while Ajmi served as the moderator for a discussion on the use of regtech to optimise compliance programmes and Al-Salah together with his fellow panelists covered Exploring the way forward in regulatory compliance during the opening session - "as focus shifts on digital transformation for banks and financial institutions alike."