Riyadh : Saudi Arabia has expressed regret about the decision by the European Commission (EC) to place the Kingdom on a blacklist of 23 non-EU countries and territories accused of posing a high risk of money laundering and financing terrorism, despite the efforts being made by the Kingdom to combat such crimes.
“The Kingdom finds it regrettable that it was included in the proposed list of ‘high-risk’ countries for money laundering and terrorist financing that was issued by the European Commission on Feb. 13, 2019,” Saudi authorities said in a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
“This comes despite the Kingdom’s ratification of many laws and procedures relating to combating money laundering and terrorist financing, to reduce the risks associated with such crimes,” said the statement.
It added that the Kingdom reaffirms its strong commitment to the joint global efforts to combat money-laundering and the financing of terrorism, as part of which it works with international partners and allies.
“Saudi Arabia, who is a key partner in the international coalition against Daesh, has been leading a group, along with the United States and Italy, to fight the financing of the group,” the statement continued.
“The Saudi Mutual Evaluation Report, published by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in September 2018, praised Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the group’s recommendations. The FATF report stated that the Kingdom’s preventive measures against money laundering and terrorist financing are strong and robust.”
The Kingdom has a legal framework and coordinated procedures in place for the swift implementation of targeted financial sanctions imposed by the United Nations, it added.
Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said: “Saudi Arabia’s commitment to combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism is a strategic priority and we will continue to develop and improve our regulatory and legislative frameworks to achieve this goal.”
“The announcement by the European Commission that the Kingdom will be included in the proposed list of high-risk countries for money laundering and terrorist financing will have to pass the voting stage in the European Parliament before it becomes effective,” he said.
The minister invited EC officials and members of the European Parliament to visit Riyadh to learn about the Kingdom’s ongoing efforts and initiatives to combat money-laundering and the financing of terrorism at local, regional and international levels. He also stressed that the Kingdom looks forward to a constructive dialogue with its partners in the EU to help strengthen and support efforts to combat the flow of ‘dirty money’.