Background screening is critically important for business worldwide. Providing such service is a complex process, and it is different for every country and region. In the United States, investigators have a web of databases at their disposal and a vast network of local resources that provide a wealth of information at the mere click of a mouse. It’s a different world in the Middle East. Technology is limited in many parts of the region. Privacy legislation varies from country to country and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Cultural differences can impact the flow of information. Language barriers can contribute to inaccurate reporting.
Instead of database-driven investigations like those conducted in the U.S., professionals in the Middle East must conduct large parts of their investigations literally on foot, travelling to remote regions to scour records and interview sources. If you’re looking for accurate, reliable information in the Middle East you need to turn to qualified, professional sources that are familiar with the countries, cultures, terrain, languages, resources and – most of all – the laws that govern personal privacy. In this part of the world, your contacts and resources are your greatest assets.
Discovering Hard-to-Find Facts in Hard-to-Reach Locations
The biggest challenge in conducting background investigations in the Middle East is collecting reliable information most efficiently. This requires a well-trained and diverse group of professional investigators who are multilingual and multi-cultural, are familiar with those geographic regions and can easily traverse the obstacles that often impede international investigations. Those obstacles include:
- Working with local customs offices.
- Complying with data protection laws and mandates.
- Knowledge level of local investigative researchers.
- Lack of centralised information resources and databases; and
- The proliferation of multicultural environments that are particularly influenced by locals who vastly differ in their approaches to investigative screening and public record searches, particularly with information collected via database sources.
To address these obstacles, successful background investigators in the Middle East are often required to work deep in the field, travelling to remote destinations to conduct interviews, develop resources and enlist local assistance to verify information. Leading background screening firms will conduct investigations that regularly involve a thorough review of local press records, using online and proprietary databases augmented by manual field research to locate the appropriate public records. This in-depth investigative approach is necessary to bring to light any instances of malfeasance or notable, publicly aired criticism. These professionals will also research all public records that are available within the respective government institutions such as a region’s trial courts, police and SEC sources, and global sanctions lists. The goal of providing this level of investigative legwork is to collect timely, well-documented and substantiated information which will measure up to the high standards often required by our U.S. partners.
How to Locate and Partner With Reputable Screening Firms in the Middle East
The following checklist will help in securing a reputable background screening service:
- To begin, research the listing of expatriate background screening firms provided by the Professional Background Screening Association https://thepbsa.org/.
- Ask your provider how they comply with local and regional laws governing individual privacy protection and the methods they utilise in protecting information.
- Make sure your service provider’s physical address is in the region they’re conducting investigations. If not, they could be simply outsourcing their cases to a third party.
- Ask about the manner in which your service provider conducts investigations. Avoid firms that investigate exclusively through media searches.
- Inquire about the internal policies and procedures the service provider uses to monitor the protection of data, and if it conducts regular audits to ensure compliance with regional privacy mandates. Specifically, the provider should be in compliance with GDPR and must maintain Information Security Management System ISMS (ISO27001).
- Don’t settle for firms that say they specialise in providing checks of the International Terrorist Watch List and the OFAC watch list. Those lists are available online to anyone at no cost.
- Avoid firms that won’t supply you with the source of the records they obtain, where available from public record resources. Also, be sure to ask how old the information collected is.
- Reputable firms will combine in-depth field investigations with routine public records searches. Make sure your provider is doing both. Background checks involve investigative research and not just press-clippings.
- Service delivery is critical in foreign investigations. Ask about average turnaround times and get commitments for delivery in advance of the investigation.
- Find out what other U.S. companies use the service provider. Ask for references.
As the world economy shrinks and the pool of foreign job applicants expands, a partnership with a reputable international background screening service provider to conduct investigations abroad is essential for maintaining a safe hiring program for your clients. To ensure you’re using the best providers available, a little investigating of your own will result in big benefits down the road.
If you have any further questions or interest in implementing compliance solutions, please contact us.
CRI Group has safeguarded businesses from any risks, providing investigations (i.e. insurance fraud), employee background screening, investigative due diligence, business intelligence, third-party risk management, forensic accounting, compliance and other professional investigative research services. In 2016, CRI Group launched Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption (ABAC®) Center of Excellence – an independent certification body established for ISO 37001:2016 Anti-Bribery Management Systems, ISO 19600:2014 Compliance Management Systems and ISO 31000:2018 Risk Management, providing training and certification. ABAC® operates through its global network of certified ethics and compliance professionals, qualified auditors and other certified professionals. Contact ABAC® for more on ISO Certification and training.
About the author:
Zafar Anjum | Group Chief Executive, CRI Group, Anjum is the founder and CEO of CRI Group and ABAC Center of Excellence. Having dedicated three decades to the areas of fraud prevention, protective integrity, security, compliance, anti-bribery and anti-corruption, Zafar Anjum is a highly respected professional in his field.