“For a financial services company like NOUV, the notion of governance is a paramount value which we not only uphold, but also want to instil amongst the clients we service and work with.” ANDREW NAUDI talks to BusinessToday about why, a year ago, NOUV established Getgovernanz as part of its ESG efforts and as a tangible contribution towards promoting the importance of good governance.
What were the main activities you engaged in and what has been the overall reception to this initiative in its first year?
Under NOUV’s corporate umbrella, Getgovernanz’s 2020 strategy was to focus on the development of training programmes that reflect our strengths and that of our partners, the International Due Diligence Organisation, and the American Anti-Corruption Institute. Meanwhile, we also managed to successfully conclude an agreement with the Malta Chamber through which Getgovernanz provided a series of four open webinars to its members and the general public on anti-corruption and related subjects. We are now in the process of concluding other similar agreements with professional bodies and representative associations to support their training requirements.
Currently, we are piloting one of our core training programmes “Due Diligence Master Class” sponsored by the Ministry for Finance’s National Coordinating Committee on Combating
Money Laundering and Funding of Terrorism and we are conducting advisory services including local and International Corporate Governance Assessments.
How many courses and advisory services have you offered to date?
In addition to the in-house training, we hold within the Group, we have provided training to external participants on due diligence including the United Nations, banks, and regulatory bodies and investigation agencies and departments. Our Governance assessments are extensive in scope, and we are finalising an assessment for an international oil and gas company.
How many participants have you addressed and who is typically enrolling for your courses?
Our training and advisory services are attracting mid-level and senior personnel who have responsibilities in regulatory and investigative organisations. To date, 33 persons have attended and graduated with our course certifications. Webinars have to date attracted over 200 businesspersons and professionals. The reception to the topics we addressed has been extremely positive even though courses were being delivered online due the pandemic’s restrictions. Participants however are looking forward to returning to ‘in classroom ‘ training which offers opportunities for more interaction between participants and lecturers who exchange experiences and the chance for networking.
Have the outcomes to date met your expectations you had set when you established Getgovernanz?
I believe that we should be in a better position to answer that question once 2021 passes, as our full menu of courses and advisory services will be available in the second half of 2021. Having said that, I also think that corporations and the public sector will be required to assess where they need more training in light of ongoing changes and new legislation in particular the impact on regulatory and oversight services that emerged because of the Moneyval and Venice Commission reports’ recommendations.
Getgovernanz was set up in collaboration with the American Anti-Corruption Institute (AACI) together with the International Due Diligence Organisation (IDDO).
Unlike other local training companies, our partners have an international ‘footprint’. Many of their training programmes, together with ours, have been delivered in other countries - often where there are serious large-scale issues of corruption and money laundering. We are therefore able to draw from this international experience acquired by our trainers and apply what we learn to our training which we then share with the participants.
What are the most tangible effects that your courses are bringing to those organisations who attend them?
Participants are enjoying a better understanding of how they can source information from open international sources, they are learning how to become less emotional but more objective and concise in drafting their reports and fluent in the use of other tools such as networking and alternative sourcing. They are also learning to apply the case study approach through real cases which enhances their understanding of cause-and-effect scenarios.
What courses are you offering at the moment and what new courses are you planning to introduce in the coming months?
Current training programs include Introduction to Fraud Awareness, Fraud Detection, Investigation and Prevention, Due Diligence Masterclasses, Anti-Money Laundering, Pre-Regulatory Audits, Certification as an Anti-Corruption Manager and more. The full list of courses is available on our website www.getgovernanz.com/training.
What is your personal take on the outcomes of Moneyval as reported over the past few days?
The ‘cautious’ approval to date was a political decision intended to send a ‘not bad’ but ‘much more to do’ signal. This has as much to do with optics as it has to do with substance. I refer here to the lack of accountability by politicians who have not yet collectively taken responsibility for the events of the past. Signalling out three or four persons (PEPs) and shouldering full responsibility is political expediency. To date, not one person or group, past or present from amongst our politicians has pleaded guilty. I believe it will take several years for us to get a clean approval. Personally, I am not very optimistic that there will be change in the next five years.
Do you believe that Malta’s efforts to clean up its act are being effective? If not, what more can be done?
Effective means demonstrable achievements. Failure to hold accountable all those who were directly and, or indirectly knowledgeable of and or were party to corrupt practices, will continue to undermine the trust by investors. In my opinion, there is little evidence that ‘lessons’ have been learned from this sad chapter of events. I believe it all starts from educating our younger generations. Only this could help us reverse the culture that has allowed many to accept bad practices and corrupt behaviour.