Bahrain urged to protect financial information
Manama, April 9, 2014
Bahrain has been urged to introduce strict conditions to ensure classified financial information is not leaked to public.
The Bankers Union says the findings of a government inquiry that confidential documents were revealed by a local bank was alarming and could happen again if immediate measures are not taken, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The names, salaries and private details of 499 Jordanians working in Bahrain as part of security co-operation between both countries were leaked recently.
A report from online e-newspaper Bahrain Mirror, whose website continues to be blocked by authorities, said their salaries cost the government $1.8 million a month.
It posted a link to alleged Interior Ministry documents showing the salaries were transferred to the employees via Jordan's Arab Bank.
Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa earlier said the information was "confidential and shouldn't have been published without permission".
"The investigation revealed that the document was leaked by the bank that holds their accounts, in particular two departments within the bank," said an Investigation and Forensic Science Directorate official.
Arab Bank officials in Bahrain declined to comment.
But Bankers Union chairman Khalil Zainal said the leaking of the documents was a worrying matter.
"There are banking ethics that should be followed by financial institutions and if confidential information is leaked it is a breach of trust," he said.
"In my personal view, I disagree with the release of details such as names, accounts and other information.
"This is all confidential information that should have never come out."
Zainal said classified documents detailing the alleged freezing of assets of a high-profile Bahraini businessman had also recently been leaked online.
"The problem will be endless until there are measures or guidelines set to prevent any information leak," he said.
He claimed unionists and companies who continue to politicise issues to suit their own agenda were also part of the problem.
"They keep trying to promote their political agenda with all these information leaks and we should stop this culture," said Zainal.
People found guilty of leaking Interior Ministry documents can be jailed for up to a year and fined BD100 ($263.9).
If the violator is a public employee who was entrusted with the leaked information then the punishment rises to five years.
A petition was launched last year by a group calling itself Bahrain Watch after a leaked document that claimed to be an Interior Ministry tender notice, dated June 16 last year, was published online.
It invited tenders from companies to supply police with 1.6 million tear gas canisters, 145,000 sound and flash grenades, 45,000 CS hand grenades and 45,000 tear gas hand grenades. - TradeArabia News Service