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Bank Muscat honored by Hawkamah for benchmark corporate governance

MUSCAT, 15 December 2014 – Bank Muscat, the flagship financial services provider in the Sultanate, has been honoured by Hawkamah for the fourth year running for benchmark corporate governance practices.

Hawkamah is a regional initiative aimed at recognizing and encouraging superior governance practices in the banking sector in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The award jury commended Bank Muscat for adopting a unique approach to corporate governance. The jury evaluated the bank's performance vis-à-vis various award criteria and interviewed a panel from the bank to decide the winner.

AbdulRazak Ali Issa, Chief Executive, said: “Being honoured by Hawkamah for the fourth year is a unique achievement as Bank Muscat has absolute belief in and understanding of the key principles of corporate governance which is reflected in the way we do business. The prestigious recognition for superior governance leadership is one that we greatly cherish. As the leading bank in the Sultanate, it is important that we set the standards and we have done this by creating a culture of openness, transparency and accountability, which are important for any organisation. Creating this culture has helped the institution progress steadily over many years."

The Bank, in partnership with the US-based Institute of International Finance (IIF), recently organised a customised programme on corporate governance and board risk oversight for the bank's board of directors.  The bespoke interactive programme provided the bank's directors with an overview of ongoing developments and best practices in the field of bank governance and board effectiveness. The programme introduced the bank's new board charter as the directors deliberated on the best practices on how board committees may adequately contribute to board decision-making. The programme also reviewed the board's role in setting the bank's strategy, risk appetite and overseeing the management of key risks.

AbdulRazak added: “The main advantage of advanced corporate governance is that it protects all stakeholders - from customers to creditors, to regulators, shareholders and employees. The GCC is a very competitive region, hence it is important that we create an advantage in corporate governance so that we can contribute to attracting foreign investment. Investors looking at a company or a country see strong corporate governance equating to stability."

Bank Muscat invests heavily in its people. The assurance functions of Risk, Audit and Compliance have seen their teams qualify as certified internal auditors, financial risk managers, fraud examiners, anti-money laundering specialists (AML)officers and compliance officers. The full suite of relevant policies in the areas of risk management, disclosures, AML and whistle-blowing has equipped the bank to flag areas of concern and thereby foster the culture of openness, transparency and accountability that is critical in today's business environment.