Fraud, corruption tackled during COVID-19: Saudi Central Bank

Fraud, corruption tackled during COVID-19: Saudi Central Bank
Saudi Central Bank Governor Ahmed Abdul Karim Al-Kholifey. (Supplied)
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Updated 03 December 2020

Fraud, corruption tackled during COVID-19: Saudi Central Bank

Fraud, corruption tackled during COVID-19: Saudi Central Bank
  • Governor Ahmed Abdul Karim Al-Kholifey on the measures the Kingdom has taken to fight financial crime

RIYADH: The governor of the Saudi Central Bank on Wednesday revealed measures taken by the Kingdom to combat the “risks and threats” posed by financial crimes during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Speaking at the opening session of the 12th Annual Forum for Compliance and Combating Money Laundering, Ahmed Abdulkarim Al-Kholifey said that Saudi Arabia had acted on a number of cases of money laundering, corruption and financial fraud.

“You know about the extent of the impact of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic on health, social, and economic aspects, including the impact on the economies of the entire world. Among the negative impacts that affected the countries of the world are the emergence of new risks and threats,” he told delegates.

Al-Kholifey, who is also chairman of the Anti-Money Laundering Permanent Committee, added: “Among the most prominent of those risks and threats that have been observed during the pandemic period are the increase in financial fraud cases, namely, emergence of individuals claiming to invest in digital currencies or claiming to provide investment services in some major companies.

“(There has also been an) increase in cybersecurity crimes such as hacking into individuals’ smart devices, obtaining their banking information, and exploiting the pandemic period to carry out fake financial donation campaigns for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic by announcing on social networks that they will collect donations for international aid organizations or provide aid to poor countries.”

During his forum address, he noted that his team had observed cases of corruption where officials had exploited support provided by the government to reduce the effects of the health crisis, and engaged in fake or exaggerated deals in an attempt to take advantage of the backing.

Al-Kholifey also pointed out that there had been “cases associated with fraud in medical supplies.” 

Dr. Ahmed bin Abdul Karim Al-Kholifey, Governor of the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) and Chairman of the Anti-Money Laundering Permanent Committee. (Refinitiv)

To combat these issues, Saudi authorities, including the central bank, had introduced numerous procedures and measures to manage the risks, he said. This was done by adopting procedures and international standards for combating money laundering and terrorist financing that had been developed by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in Paris.

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, Saudi officials had managed to maintain communication with the private sector and encourage financial institutions to continue providing financial services, by enhancing electronic and digital payment options, Al-Kholifey added.

This year’s virtual conference was organized by the Anti-Money Laundering Permanent Committee in cooperation with the Saudi Central Bank and global financial solutions company Refinitiv.

David Craig, CEO of Refinitiv, spoke about Saudi Arabia’s leadership in fighting financial crime and the Kingdom’s critical role in the modern global financial system. He also noted that financial criminals were becoming more sophisticated in their tactics. 

David Craig, CEO, Refinitiv. (Refinitiv)

He said: “In the Middle East — as elsewhere — we are witnessing a major increase in identity-related fraud as organizations digitally onboard customers. Not surprisingly, this has become a significant focus of Refinitiv’s recent work and investments. 

“We’re seeing financial criminals move into human trafficking, wildlife smuggling, and other green crimes like the logging of pristine forest — all of which have devastating impacts on people, society, and the biodiversity of our planet. Financial crime is never a victimless crime,” Craig added.

Speaking at the same event, Ali Al-Qahtani, deputy chief compliance officer and head of financial crime compliance at the Saudi British Bank, said that criminal cyber activity had significantly increased around the globe.

“The collective campaign, led by the Saudi Central Bank, helped local banks address these emerging challenges. In line with the local regulations, we kicked off a high-level engagement and set up a crisis management committee. We also had effective planning in place to address staff safety and rolled out precautionary measures outlined by the Ministry of Health.

“Awareness is a key component in promoting a sound compliance culture and that is why I believe that ongoing communication is a necessity,” Al-Qahtani added.

Intel avoids outsourcing embrace, investigates hack of results

Intel avoids outsourcing embrace, investigates hack of results
Updated 14 min 3 sec ago

Intel avoids outsourcing embrace, investigates hack of results

Intel avoids outsourcing embrace, investigates hack of results

The incoming chief executive of Intel Corp. said on Thursday that most of the company’s 2023 products will be made in Intel factories but he sketched a dual-track future in which it will lean more heavily on outside factories.
The lack of a strong embrace of outsourcing from new CEO Pat Gelsinger drove shares down 4.7% after hours. Shares rose 6.5% during regular trade, when the results were released ahead of the close. The company said it was investigating “non-authorized” access to some of the results, with the Financial Times quoting its chief financial officer as saying the microchip maker had been hacked.
Intel also forecast first-quarter revenue and profit above Wall Street expectations, continuing to benefit from pandemic demand for laptops and PCs that have powered the shift to working and playing from home.
Gelsinger said he was “confident that the majority of our 2023 products will be manufactured internally” though he also said the use of outside chip factories is likely to increase “for certain technologies and products.”
Intel has been considering since last July whether to drop its decades-old strategy of both designing and making chips by turning for help on its central processing units, or CPUS, to “foundry” manufacturers. Those partners could be Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics. Intel’s manufacturing technology, called a 7-nanometer process, is expected in 2023.
“We didn’t get our answer on which foundries and when,” said Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy. “They pushed the can down the road.”
Kinngai Chan, analyst at Summit Insights Group, said Intel is not likely to outsource its flagship chips.
“Intel’s 14-nanometer chip transistor speed has always been faster than what any foundry can offer even at 7-nanometer,” Chan said. “We believe it will increase its use of external foundries over-time — just not for its large-core CPUs.”
Keeping manufacturing in-house means higher investments. Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon questioned whether Gelsinger, currently the chief executive of VMware Inc. who previously spent 30 years at Intel and announced his intention to return just last week, has had sufficient time to dig into the issue.
“It was pretty obvious they were trying to borrow his credibility” when Gelsinger endorsed Intel’s delayed 7-naonmeter technology, Rasgon said.
Intel’s decision coincides with US lawmakers having passed bipartisan legislation to fund US chip manufacturing. But the new law has yet to specify funding levels or recipients, and Forrester Research analyst Glenn O’Donnell said Intel might take the opportunity to solicit US government support for domestic manufacturing.
Boosted by a new high-end PC processor, Intel regained some momentum in the PC market, with volumes of PC chips rising 33%, faster than the 26% rise for the overall PC market, according to data from IDC.
Data center group sales, which powered Intel’s growth over the past several years, were $6.1 billion compared with analyst estimates of $5.48 billion, according to FactSet data.
But sales to cloud computing customers, some of the largest and fastest-growing purchasers of data center chips, were down 15% in the fourth quarter. Data center chip operating margins were 34% in the quarter, down from 48% a year earlier.
“We think (data center) operating margins are going to improve as we get toward the second half of the year, when we expect to see a rebound in cloud” chip sales, Intel Chief Financial Officer George Davis said.
The company also raised its dividend by 5%.
The chipmaker said it expects fiscal first-quarter adjusted sales of $17.5 billion and adjusted earnings per share of $1.10, both ahead of analyst consensus, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Fourth-quarter revenue of $20 billion and adjusted earnings per share of $1.52 also beat Wall Street targets.