EU blacklists Nigeria, Libya over money laundering, terrorism financing

The proposal must now be approved by the European Parliament and the 28 member states with France and Britain against the new list. — File

The proposal must now be approved by the European Parliament and the 28 member states with France and Britain against the new list. — File

Saudi Arabia has been added to the European Commission's dirty money blacklist as part of a crackdown on money laundering and terrorism financing.

Reacting to the report, Saudi finance minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said in a statement published by Channel News Asia: "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". I would like first to explain the context and our main objectives. "The EU financial system must not serve as a vehicle for money laundering and must not serve as an instrument for financing crime including terrorism", said Vera Jourova, EU commissioner for justice and gender equality.

Libya, Botswana, Ghana, Samoa and the Bahamas were also added, while Bosnia Herzegovina, Guyana, Laos, Uganda and Vanuatu were removed from the previous list revealed in July past year.

European Union banks are forced to carry out additional checks on payments from countries and locations on the list.

The proposal must now be approved by the European Parliament and the 28 member states, with France and Britain against the new list. They could reject it by a qualified majority.

The new countries targeted by the commission, including Saudi Arabia and Panama, would join another 16 already on this register - such as Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Ethiopia and North Korea.

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"Saudi Arabia notes with regret the European Commission proposed a revised list of "high risk" countries".

Saudi Central Bank Governor Ahmed Al-Kholifey does not expect the EU's decision to add his country to a list of "high risk" countries to have any impact for now, Al-Arabiya TV reported on Thursday.

Bosnia-Herzegovina, Guyana, Laos, Uganda and Vanuatu were removed from the list.

"Some of the biggest dirty-money washing machines are still missing".

Critics said the list fell short of including several countries that have been involved in money-laundering scandals in Europe. "These include Russian Federation, the City of London and its offshore territories as well as Azerbaijan", said EU green legislator Sven Giegold, who sits in the European Parliament special committee on financial crimes.

"Saudi Arabia will continue to communicate with the Commission and looks forward to a constructive dialogue with its partners in the European Union to contribute to strengthening and supporting the means of countering money laundering and terrorism at the global and regional levels", he said.

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