Corporate Governance


Corporate governance is the framework by which business corporations are directed and controlled. It describes a set of relationships between a company’s management, its board, its shareholders and other stakeholders that provides the structure through which the objectives of the companies are set, and the means of attaining those objectives and monitoring performance are determined. The corporate governance structure specifies the distribution of rights and responsibilities among different participants such as the Board, Management, shareholders and other stakeholders, and spells out the rules and procedures for making decisions on corporate affairs. It influences how the objectives of the Bank are set and achieved, how risk is monitored and assessed, and how performance is optimized. The corporate governance structure of BBK is designed to enshrine the concepts of good governance as required by the Corporate Governance Code of the Kingdom of Bahrain issued by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) in their High-Level Controls (HC) Module, Basel II paper on ‘Enhancing Corporate Governance’ of 2006, Bahrain Commercial Company Law and other supporting references.

The guidelines provided herein are to support the principles stated in any other of the Bank’s prevailing governance documents and related policies. The Bank (BBK Group) also adheres to the Code of Best Practice on Consumer Credit and Charging (prepared jointly by the Bahrain Association of Banks and Central Bank of Bahrain).

Governance of Group Structure:

The Board the Bank which acts as a parent company shall:
(a) Have the overall responsibility for the group and exercise adequate oversight over subsidiaries and overseas branches while respecting the independent legal and governance responsibilities that might apply to subsidiary Boards;
(b) Establish, a group structure (including the legal entity and business structure) and a group corporate governance framework with clearly defined roles and responsibilities at both the Bank’s and the subsidiaries’ level as may be appropriate based on the complexity, risks and significance of the subsidiaries;
(c) Set adequate and comprehensive criteria for composing Boards at subsidiaries’ level;
(d) Have a clear strategy and group policy for establishing new structures and legal entities, and ensure that they are consistent with the policies and interests of the group;
(e) Have sufficient resources at group and subsidiaries levels to monitor risks and compliance at the level of the group and its subsidiaries;
(f) Pay special attention and due care to any significant subsidiary based on its risk profile or systemic importance or due to its size relative to the Bank;
(g) Assess and discuss material risks and issues that might affect the group and its subsidiaries and overseas branches;
(h) Establish effective group functions at the Bank, including but not limited to, Internal Audit, Compliance, Risk Management, Human Resources and Cyber Security and Financial Control to whom the relevant subsidiaries’ functions shall report;
(i) Maintain an effective relationship, through the subsidiary Board or direct contact, with the regulators of all subsidiaries and overseas branches; and
(j) ensure that:
i. The Group has appropriate policies and controls to identify and address potential intragroup conflicts of interest, such as those arising from intragroup transactions;
ii. The Group is governed and operating under clear group strategies, business policies and specific set of group policies on Risk Management, Internal Audit, Compliance and Financial Control;
iii. There are no barriers to exchanging information between the subsidiaries and the Bank and that there are robust systems in place to facilitate the exchange of information to enable the Bank to effectively supervise the Group and manage its risks; and
iv. Adequate authority is available to each subsidiary pursuant to local legislations.

Bank’s wholly owned subsidiaries have their own Boards of Directors with separate Board charters. However, as a Group these subsidiaries shall abide by the corporate governance principles set out in this framework as described under 3.3 below. For strategic decisions these subsidiaries will refer to the mother company’s Board of Directors with recommendations.


High standards in corporate governance are fundamental in maintaining BBK’s leading position within the local and regional banking sector and the community. Continuous review and adherence to strong corporate governance practices help enhance compliance levels according to international standards and best practice.

BBK shall continue its endeavor to enhance shareholders value, protect their interests and defend their rights by practicing pursuit of excellence in corporate life. The Bank shall not only comply with all statutory requirements but also formulate and adhere to strong Corporate Governance practices.
BBK shall continuously strive to best serve the interests of its stakeholders including shareholders, customers, staff and public at large with particular emphasis on Environment and Social Governance (ESG) and sustainability reporting, which takes into consideration the UN Sustainable Development Goals into consideration.

The adoption and implementation of Corporate Governance would be the direct responsibility of the Board of Directors, in line with the regulatory and statutory requirements in the Kingdom of Bahrain and other countries where BBK operates. Corporate Governance disclosures shall be made according to the CBB’s requirements as per its rulebook modules PD 1.3.8 and PD 6.1.1 and amendments thereto.


The standard Corporate Governance model interconnects the dynamic relation between the three main stakeholders namely Shareholders, the Board and the Management. The roles of shareholders, the Board and the Management are distinctly different but complimentary to the core objectives and functioning of the institution. Such model can be drawn as under. BBK’s CG model is based on Angelo-American model expanded to include a variety of stakeholders who have interest in the Bank and its success.

BBK’s Corporate Governance practices ensure a healthy relationship with all the stake holders while achieving core objectives of the institution.

3.1    Board of Directors:

The Bank’s Board of Directors is accountable to the Bank’s shareholders and other stakeholders, to ensure that the Bank is managed in a safe and sound manner. To fulfill their fiduciary duties, the Directors must be independent of the Management of the Bank; familiar with the Bank’s business and general financial and accounting principles; and actively engaged in directing and overseeing Management.

3.2    Management Team:

The Bank’s Executive Management team is accountable to the Board to manage the Bank in accordance with the policies and principles established by the Board and applicable legal and regulatory requirements.

3.3 Subsidiaries and Overseas Branches:

The Bank will ensure that, as a minimum, the same or equivalent corporate governance requirements would apply to its overseas branches and to subsidiaries.  The Corporate Governance framework for BBK covers all subsidiaries and overseas branches.  Subsidiaries would also adopt their own corporate governance policies and frameworks, being independent licensees. Some requirements, however, would be met by subsidiaries through BBK’s corporate governance status. Some of the functions of the subsidiaries such as audit, nomination & remuneration can be outsourced to the main Bank, if recommended by their Boards. The subsidiaries would periodically and on need based basis report to the Bank’s Board.


The purpose of this Framework is to outline the corporate governance structure for the Bank.

This Corporate Governance Framework document together with the Board Charter and the terms of reference of all Board Committees, Code of Conduct for Directors, Directors Remuneration and Compensation Policy, Key Persons Dealing Policy, Disclosures Policy and such other independent policies related to Corporate Governance will form the Corporate Governance Policy Manual and would be the reference document for the Board and the Management.

The individual policies/documents may change with market and regulatory requirements from time to time and will be suitably replaced.


The Bank will follow the corporate governance principles as issued by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in the Corporate Governance Code and the CBB as per the High-Level Controls (HC) Module of the Rulebook.  The principles are as follows:

  1. The Bank shall be headed by an effective, collegial and informed Board.
  2. The approved persons must have full loyalty to the Bank.
  3. The Board must have rigorous controls for financial audit and reporting, internal control, and compliance with law.
  4. The Bank must have rigorous and transparent procedures for appointment, training and evaluation of the Board.
  5. The Bank must remunerate approved persons fairly and responsibly.
  6. The Board must establish a clear and efficient management structure.
  7. The Bank must communicate with shareholders, encourage their participation, and respect their rights.
  8. The Bank must disclose its corporate governance.

Building on the above, the Bank’s guiding principles of good corporate governance are:

5.1 Board operations - the Board’s ability to manage its own activities

5.1.1    The Board would consist of Directors representing varied/appropriate mix of applicable skills and experience and meeting ‘fit and proper’ requirements of the CBB. 

5.1.2    There will be separation and clear division in the roles and responsibilities of the Chairman and the Chief Executive. The Chairman of the Board will be an Independent Director.

5.1.3    Bank would have a nomination process designed to ensure that the appropriate balance and capability of the Board is maintained on the basis of periodic evaluation of the performance of the Board, its Committees and individual Directors.

5.1.4    Bank will have a fair representation on the Board by Directors, including adequate ‘independent’ Directors, to meet minimum regulatory requirements and to facilitate objectivity in decision making.

5.1.5    Bank will provide the Directors with access to training (particularly on induction) and professional advice on issues when required.

5.1.6    Bank will provide access to professional advice to the Board and Board Committees as and when necessary as per specific procedures approved by the Nomination, Remuneration and Corporate Governance Committee.

5.2 Strategy – the Board’s role in the strategy development process will ensure:

5.2.1    Active Board participation in strategy development, including the review and challenge of the strategy.

5.2.2    Creation of an adaptable organization that is able to respond quickly to changing market opportunities.

5.2.3    Appropriate dissemination of the strategic plan of Bank.

5.3 Corporate Culture - the Board’s role in setting and communicating standards for organisational behavior shall:

5.3.1    Promote openness with Management on issues for which the Board will ultimately be accountable.

5.3.2    Sponsor and actively promote adherence to the organization’s defined code of conduct.

5.3.3    Promote the use of incentive schemes that align the interests of the Board and Executive Management with those of the shareholders and other stakeholders.

5.4 Monitoring and evaluation – the Board’s role in monitoring Management and evaluating its performance against defined goals will require to:

5.4.1    Ensure that the organization complies with relevant laws and regulations as well as with accounting, human resource and other internal policies.

5.4.2    Understand organizational risks and be informed routinely about how they are managed and be assured that this is effective.

5.4.3    Apply a rigorous process for evaluating and monitoring the performance of the Chief Executive (“CE”) and Executive Management.

5.5 Stewardship – the Board’s responsibility towards stakeholders and accountability for their interests will need to:

5.5.1    Uphold rigorous standards for individual members’ preparedness, participation and conduct.

5.5.2    Protect the organization and its stakeholders from potential damage due to conflicts of interest.

5.5.3    Manage stakeholder expectations regarding the safeguarding of their interests, in part by ensuring that communication is thorough, timely and transparent.

5.6 Risk Management

The Board is responsible for ensuring that the Bank has a robust Risk Management Framework. The Bank has in place a comprehensive Risk Management Strategy, a strong Risk Appetite Framework and a detailed Policy Manual which are approved by the Board.  These provide an environment of strong risk & credit governance and a robust credit management framework.

5.7 Regulatory Compliance

Compliance with regulatory requirements and AML is an ongoing process. The Bank is conscious of its responsibilities in observing all regulatory provisions and best international practices in its functioning. The Bank has established an independent group compliance function in keeping with Basel and CBB guidelines. The Compliance and AML Department at BBK consists of four primary sections, including; (a) Financial Crime; (b) Fraud; (c) Regulatory Compliance and Advisory, part of which is the Data Privacy team; and (d) Compliance Assurance.

5.8 Internal Audit

The Internal Audit Department is an essential part of the overall corporate governance at the Bank, established by the Board of Directors to independently examine and evaluate the activities of the BBK Group. The Internal Audit function is headed by the Group Chief Internal Auditor, who reports directly to the Board Audit & Compliance Committee on functional matters, and with day-to-day administrative reporting to the Group Chief Executive. Guided by all applicable regulatory and other directives, Internal Audit assignments are conducted across all functions in the Group towards the accomplishment of its objectives – reviewing the reliability, adequacy and effectiveness of the respective governance, risk management, and internal control systems.

5.9 Anti-Corruption

As part of its ESG framework the Bank has adopted anti-corruption policy.


The Board will form the necessary Board and Management Committees to assist the Board in providing effective oversight over the Bank’s operations. The Board would review the structure periodically and modify it if deemed necessary.  Additional committees may be formed from time to time and/ or the existing Committees could be assigned additional responsibilities. The structure, is as under:

6.1 The role of the Head of Group Corporate Secretariat:

The role of the Head of Group Corporate Secretariat is to assist the Board and its Committees in the maintenance of the relationship between Executive Management and the Board, and between the Board and shareholders and vice versa. His role extends to be the Corporate Governance Officer of the Bank.

6.2 Other functions:

The financial control function would be independent of the business lines. The Audit and Compliance & AML functions would be independent and report to the Audit and Compliance Committee of the Board. The Risk Management would be independent and report to the Risk Committee of the Board.

6.3 Principal Responsibilities of the Group Chief Executive:

The Group Chief Executive is responsible for the day-to-day management, operations and administration of the Bank.  The Chief Executive shall have the following duties:

  • Implement, manage and administer corporate business strategy with the aim of executing the business plans and budgets of the Bank;
  • Manage the overall human resources and skills/competencies pool to ensure the effective and efficient running of the Bank;
  • Represent BBK with customers, suppliers, governments, financial institutions, the media, the community and the public;
  • Formulate and recommend strategic objectives and plan of action for continuously enhancing shareholders’ value to Board of Directors;
  • Ensure adherence to policies and procedures, applicable regulations and laws, and monitoring exceptions and serious deviations,;
  • Manage the Assets and Liabilities of the Bank in accordance to Board policy and regulatory requirements;

Manage the risk portfolio of the Bank.

6.4 Board Committees:

The Board delegates (without abdicating) some of its responsibilities to different Board Committees. The present established Board Committees are given below. The terms of references have been separately established for each Committee.

Executive Committee Role: reviews, approves/recommends and directs the Executive Management on matters raised to the Board of Directors
Audit and Compliance Committee  

Role: reviews the internal audit program and internal control systems, considers the major findings of internal audit review, investigations and Management’s response and ensures coordination between internal and external auditors

Tracks, monitors and reports trading activities of Key Persons and Insiders in accordance with the requirements of CBB and the Bahrain Bourse Company.

Nomination, Remuneration and Governance Committee  

Role: establishes a Board compensation policy for the Directors and Executive Management, recommending Board members’ appointments to various Committees, to the Board for approval, in addition to reviewing, assessing and having oversight on all aspects of Corporate Governance in keeping with the regulatory and statutory requirements.

Risk Committee  

Role: establishes an effective risk management framework through appropriate risk policies/processes, monitors risk profile of the Bank to ensure that it is in accordance with risk appetite of the Bank.

Independent Directors’ Committee Role: provide independent analysis of issues raised to the Board and raise recommendations to the Board if required including determining whether decisions taken by the Board or its other Committee have any material of negative impact to the interests of the minority/small shareholders of the Bank


The Board reserves the right to form temporary Committees and discontinue them, from time to time as it sees it necessary.

6.5 Management Committees:

Management Committees are chaired by the Chief Executive and, other Committee members are heads of the relevant divisions appointed by the Committee Chairman. Specific terms of references have been established for each Committee formed.

The Group Chief Executive reserves the right to form temporary Committees and discontinue them, from time to time and as necessary. The Group CE shall submit a list of all management committees during the year to the Nomination, Remuneration and Governance Committee on an annual basis. Some of the main Management Committees are:

Committee Summary Terms of Reference
Asset & Liability Management Establishes strategies and guidelines for the overall management of the balance sheet and its associated risks.
Senior Human Resources Establishes appropriate policies, procedures and guidelines for the management of human resources.
Provision Reviews and establishes provisioning requirements for loans, advances and investments.
Risk Management Identifies, measures, monitors and controls risk by establishing risk policies and procedures.
Strategy Review Reviews and monitors progress on strategic initiatives.
Credit Management Approves credit and investment proposals of a certain limit. Also reviews and recommends any proposals requiring Executive Committee or Board approvals.

6.6 Delegation of authority

The Board Committees, Management Committees and other specific Management personnel will execute activities/transactions on behalf of the Bank in accordance with the delegated authority limits. As a principle, policies covering operational issues, internal control, risk management, human resources, IT, compliance and such other functions in the Bank would be approved by the Board.  The approval of relative Procedure is delegated to the Chief Executive.

The procedures / processes relating to the functioning of the Board or Board Directors would be part of the Board Charter or approved either by the Board or by the appropriate Board Committee.

The application of the authority limits to different functionaries will be based on principles of delegation and will form part of the relevant Policy and Procedure.

Risk appetite statement:

An effective risk appetite framework (‘RAF’) is a crucial component of sound enterprise-wide risk management. Risk Appetite can be explained as the maximum risk the Bank is willing to accept in order to attain its business objectives. The RAF explicitly defines the boundaries within which management is expected to operate when pursuing the Bank’s business strategy.

The Bank has put in place a comprehensive Risk Appetite Framework in line with global best practices and continuous monitoring of the same to avoid any unexpected shocks in the future.  The risk appetite framework revolves around three basic elements:

  1. Risk Capacity – The maximum risk the Bank can assume subject to availability of capital, its business objectives and other resource constraints. Risk capacity offers the first line of defense for capital management.
  2. Risk Appetite – The maximum risk the Bank is willing to accept in order to attain its business objectives. This may be lower than or equal to the Risk Capacity.
  3. Risk Limit – The thresholds to monitor that actual risk exposure does not deviate much from the risk target and stays within the Bank’s risk tolerance/risk appetite. This may be lower than or equal to the Risk Appetite.

The corresponding triggers or thresholds for all category of risk indicators are set in accordance with the historical experience of the Bank, future outlook, business plan and strategies formulated by the Board for current financial year, or the regulatory minimum prescriptions as considered appropriate.

The Bank adopts a 3-year Business Strategy as well as an Annual Budget / Strategy process, which provides direction to each business segment for achieving the overall objectives. Additionally, the Bank also has in place the Annual Investment Strategy. The Bank conducts its capital planning on an enterprise-wide basis in conjunction with the business strategy of the Bank.

The Bank’s Risk Appetite Statement is approved by the Board on an annual basis. The actual position vis-à-vis limits is reviewed at various levels (Board Risk Committee, RMC, ALMC, Senior Management, etc.) depending on the nature of limits and as specified in the Risk Policies. This will ensure that the breaches are identified on a prompt basis and Management Action Plan is executed.

The main objective of governance of Risk Appetite Framework is to focus on long term shareholder value creation and preservation. It provides greater transparency of key objectives, principles, and measures of appetite for risk in pursuit of values, awareness, communication and risk culture with internal decisions makers and external stakeholders.

The RAF governance structure requires regular conversations on risk appetite, through the Board and Board committees and management concerning matters such as strategy formulation and execution and business cases to pursue major new initiatives. The Board has an integral part to play in the definition and monitoring of risk appetite and the interchange with management, risk management, and the business is crucial in this. The Board and Senior Management have overall responsibility for determining the Risk Appetite for the Bank, which will be measured and monitored by Business Verticals in their operational activities.

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