SICO’s Corporate Governance framework comprises of Board and Committee Charters, Code of Business Conduct, operational policies and procedures, internal controls and risk management systems, compliance procedures, delegated authority limits (DAL), internal and external audit, effective communications and transparent disclosure and measurement and accountability.
Code of Business Conduct
SICO conducts itself in accordance with the highest standards of ethical behaviour. A Code of Conduct for SICO Staff has been developed to govern the personal and professional conduct of all employees. The Code of Conduct outlines areas of conflict of interest, confidentiality, fair and equitable treatment, ethics and acting responsibly, honestly, fairly and ethically; and managing customer complaints. A Whistleblowing Policy and Procedures is included within the Code of Conduct for SICO Staff.
Recruitment of Relatives Policy
The Bank has in place policies that govern the recruitment and appointment of relatives to the Bank. Existing employees are required to alert the Human Resource Department of any relatives, or relationship of other employees or candidates being interviewed. Failure to do so will be seen as a breach of conduct and subject to disciplinary action as per the Bank’s policy.
Compliance and Anti-Money Laundering
As a licensed conventional wholesale bank and listed company, SICO has in place comprehensive policies and procedures to ensure full compliance with the relevant rules and regulations of the CBB and the Bahrain Bourse. The Bank has an independent Compliance Department in keeping with Basel and CBB guidelines. The Compliance Department acts as the central coordinator for all matters relating to regulatory reporting and other requirements.
Anti-money laundering measures are also an important area for the Compliance Department, with a designated Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO) and Deputy MLRO. The Bank has documented anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism procedures in conformity to the regulatory requirements in the Kingdom of Bahrain. SICO has implemented a risk-based automated transaction monitoring system, which further enhances the Bank’s anti-money laundering measures in line with the regulations of the CBB.
SICO conducts all communications with its stakeholders in a professional, honest, transparent, understandable, accurate and timely manner. Main communications channels include an annual report, corporate website and regular announcements in the appropriate local media. To ensure disclosure of relevant information to all shareholders on a timely basis, the Bank publishes its annual report and the past ten years’ financial statements on the corporate website.
Remuneration of Board Members and Senior Management, and Fees Paid to External Auditors
The remuneration paid to Board members and senior management personnel are disclosed in Note 26 of the Consolidated Financial Statements. The information on fees paid to External Auditors for audit and other services will be available to the CBB and shareholders upon request, provided such disclosure does not impact the interest of Bank.
Compliance with the CBB’s High Level Controls Module
Every conventional bank licensee is expected to comply with rules and guidance mentioned in the High-Level Controls Module issued by the CBB under Rulebook Volume 1. Any non-compliance with the Module needs to be explained by disclosure in the annual report to shareholders and the CBB.
SICO is in compliance with the module except for the following:
HC-1.4.6 and HC-1.4.8, which stipulate that the chairman of the Board of Directors should be an independent director, SICO Chairman Shaikh Abdulla bin Khalifa Al Khalifa is considered an Executive Director as he represents SICO’s major shareholder. However, this does not compromise the high standards of corporate governance as the bank follows strict policies to manage conflict of interest in Board decisions.
HC-1.8.2, HC-4.2.2 and HC-5.3.2 state that the Corporate Governance Committee, Nomination Committee and Remuneration Committee must include only 3 independent directors. The Chairman of the Nomination, Remuneration and Corporate Governance Committee is an independent director, however, the remaining two members are executive directors. The bank is of the opinion that this does not compromise the high standards of corporate governance as the bank has implemented measures to manage potential conflict of interest.
HC-6.5.49 stipulates that every 5 years, the audit committee must commission an independent external quality assurance review of the internal audit function. Currently, SICO plans for the same before the end of 2020.
HC-6.5.51, requires senior management to ensure that all internal audit findings and recommendations are resolved within six months for high risk issues and twelve months for others from the issue date of the subject internal audit report. Some of the findings have not been resolved within the stipulated time frame, however, relevant management is working on addressing this issue.