Mashreq Bank hit with $100m fine for violating US sanctions on Sudan

Mashreq Bank hit with $100m fine for violating US sanctions on Sudan
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Updated 10 November 2021

Mashreq Bank hit with $100m fine for violating US sanctions on Sudan

Mashreq Bank hit with $100m fine for violating US sanctions on Sudan
  • The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Federal Reserve Board also reached settlements with the bank

RIYADH: Mashreqbank, Dubai’s third-biggest bank, will pay $100 million to settle allegations that it violated US sanctions by illegally processing more than $4 billion of payments tied to Sudan, Bloomberg reported citing a New York financial regulator.

As part of the accord, the bank will provide a report on its anti-money laundering policies and procedures to the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS), which acknowledged the bank’s “substantial cooperation".

“Mashreq is committed to complying with all laws and regulations governing our industry and has been fully cooperating with its government regulators on this matter,” a spokesperson for the bank said in an emailed statement.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Federal Reserve Board also reached settlements with the bank.  

The transactions to Sudan were processed by the bank from 2005 to 2014. The oldest privately owned lender in the UAE instructed employees to leave out key details in messages sent between banks that would have linked the transactions, according to a consent order with DFS. 

This prevented other bank's compliance departments from detecting them, which could have triggered alerts or asset freezes, DFS said.

Mashreqbank closed all US dollar accounts held by Sudanese banks after news in 2009 about putting a Swiss bank used by Mashreq under investigation. 

The Dubai lender still didn’t disclose the prohibited transactions to New York’s regulator, as required by regulations, until 2015, DFS said. From 2010 to 2014, Mashreq’s New York Branch processed another $2.5 million in Sudan-related payments.


The US imposed sanctions on Sudan in 1997 for supporting international terrorism and human rights abuses. 


Mastercard sees rise in digital payment methods across MENA

Mastercard sees rise in digital payment methods across MENA
Updated 12 sec ago

Mastercard sees rise in digital payment methods across MENA

Mastercard sees rise in digital payment methods across MENA
  • Use of digital payments is accelerating at a faster rate amongst younger audiences than older ones

A recent report by Mastercard has revealed a rise in the use  of digital payment methods in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Mastercard’s New Payments Index 2022 found that 85 percent of MENA consumers have used at least one emerging payment method in the last year, including tappable smartphone mobile wallets, buy now, pay later schemes, biometrics, and payment-enabled wearable tech devices. 

While traditional payment methods remain popular, 19 percent of MENA consumers reported using less cash in the past year.

According to the report, security is a key factor when deciding what payment methods to use. Other factors are ease of use, rewards and promotions. 

Sustainability is also a key driver in the region, with 31 percent of MENA consumers citing social and environmental benefits as factors.

BNPL instalments are increasingly used as a budgeting tool in the region, the report found. About  45 percent of MENA consumers said they are comfortable using BNPL today.

“Consumers want the flexibility and convenience of BNPL, but with the sense of security associated with a trusted provider like a bank or payment network,” the report noted.

MENA consumers are also turning to fintech, with 73 percent using open banking to meet their daily financial needs.

Furthermore, 64 percent agreed that using biometrics rather than a card or device makes payments easier.


Saudi Central Bank grants licenses to 2 new fintech firms 

Saudi Central Bank grants licenses to 2 new fintech firms 
Updated 4 min 36 sec ago

Saudi Central Bank grants licenses to 2 new fintech firms 

Saudi Central Bank grants licenses to 2 new fintech firms 

RIYADH: The Saudi Central Bank announced on Sunday granting licenses to two new payment financial technology companies to operate in the Kingdom. 

Enjaz Payments Services Co. received a license to provide electronic wallet service, whereas, Marta Financial Co. to provide payment services through points of sales. 

This brings the total number of payment companies licensed by SAMA to 19, in addition to seven companies that received an In-principle approval.

This comes as part of SAMA’s role to promote the development of the financial technology sector to ensure ultimate stability and growth of the sector by the enticing entry of new products and luring new players and investors, according to a press release. 

 Meanwhile, SAMA accentuates the importance of utterly dealing with licensed or authorized financial institutions, it added.


Number of ‘Made in Saudi’ products hit over 128,000

Number of ‘Made in Saudi’ products hit over 128,000
Updated 6 min 37 sec ago

Number of ‘Made in Saudi’ products hit over 128,000

Number of ‘Made in Saudi’ products hit over 128,000

RIYADH: Since the launch of the Made in Saudi program, the number of products made in the Kingdom has reached over 128,000, occupying around 70 percent of the total space in retail stores, the Saudi Press Agency reported citing the minister of industry and mineral resources.

 Bandar bin Ibrahim Al-Khorayef said his ministry was working with major retail stores to raise the percentage of Saudi products.

The minister added that displaying local products in the Saudi market is important in boosting the national economy . 


Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu’s private sector investments hit $292bn in H1

Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu’s private sector investments hit $292bn in H1
Updated 45 min 39 sec ago

Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu’s private sector investments hit $292bn in H1

Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu’s private sector investments hit $292bn in H1

RIYADH: The Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu’s private sector investments reached SR1.1 trillion ($292 billion) by the end of the first half of 2022, its chairman told Al-Arabiya. 

Khaled Alsalem said the commission aims to double the private sector investments by 2030. 

He explained that the Shareek program, announced by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aims to pump SR5 trillion until 2030, and include 24 companies. 

Alsalem added: “We are currently studying investments worth more than SR100 billion, which are expected to be realized during the next two years.”


Saudi Arabia closes 49 investment deals worth $925m in Q2

Saudi Arabia closes 49 investment deals worth $925m in Q2
Updated 42 min 46 sec ago

Saudi Arabia closes 49 investment deals worth $925m in Q2

Saudi Arabia closes 49 investment deals worth $925m in Q2

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia closed 49 investment deals worth more than $925 million in the second quarter, according to an official report from the Ministry of Investment. 

In a statement, the Ministry of Investment revealed that these investments, which are spread acorss diverse sectors such as advanced manufacturing, construction and real estate, information and communications technology, tourism, entertainment and sports, will create over 2,000 jobs in the Saudi economy. 

One of the major deals finalized in the second quarter was a $133.3 million agreement between the Saudi Ports Authority and DP World to build a logistics park at Jeddah Islamic Port. 

Another deal was a $37 million funding round led by global finance giant Mastercard into Saudi e-commerce firm HyperPay to expand the Kingdom’s digital payment ecosystem.

Other investments include a strategic agreement with pharmaceutical giant Novartis to boost Saudi Arabia’s biopharmaceutical capabilities, a $50 million investment by Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures into Saudi fintech Wahed and a deal by Ma’aden to build the world’s largest solar-powered steam plant to be used to refine bauxite into alumina.

The report titled “Q2 2022 Investment Highlights” suggests that the Saudi non-oil sector witnessed a 5.4 percent year-on-year growth in the second quarter.

According to the report, the real gross domestic product also climbed 11.8 percent in the second quarter compared to the same period last year. 

It stated that the Kingdom’s industrial production expanded by 24 percent year-on-year in May 2022, showing a strong post-pandemic rebound in business and investor appetite. 

March, April and May 2022 recorded the highest Industrial Production Index figures of all quarters in the last three years, the report stated. 

The Kingdom also witnessed a 16.6 percent rise in point-of-sales transactions in the second quarter compared to the same period last year. 

“The National Investment Strategy is a catalyst to deliver on our Vision 2030 national objectives of seeing the private sector contribute 65 percent to GDP and growing foreign direct investment to 5.7 percent of GDP,” said Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih.