|24 March, 2019

Saudi Arabia is fighting dirty money

Saudi Arabia continues to develop and enhance regulatory framework to achieve its goal

image used for illustrative purpose. Saudi officials count ballots at a polling station at Prince Salman center in Riyadh .

image used for illustrative purpose. Saudi officials count ballots at a polling station at Prince Salman center in Riyadh .

REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed

Saudi Arabia and four US territories were among the places ranked as high-risk countries for money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
The aim of the revised draft and listing is to protect the EU’s financial systems, by better preventing money laundering and terrorist financing risks.
As a result of the listing, banks and other entities covered by EU anti-money laundering rules will be required to apply increased checks (due diligence) on financial operations involving customers and financial institutions from these high-risk countries to better identify any suspicious money flows.

Saudi Arabia issued an official statement regretting the EC’s proposed revised list that described the Kingdom as a high-risk country with regard to money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

In the statement, the Kingdom strongly reaffirmed its commitment to the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing, a commitment that it shared with its international partners and allies.

The US and other countries have also rejected the EC’s revised draft statement of AMLD4, due to the lack of transparency and credibility.
There is already an international watchdog concerned with money laundering and the financing of terrorism, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and the European Parliament has suggested that the FATF’s recommendations be followed.

It is believed that including Saudi Arabia on AMLD4 is unfair, as it has made efforts locally and internationally to fight money laundering and terror financing.

The country is an active member of the Global Coalition Against Daesh and co-chair, along with the US and Italy, of the Counter Daesh Finance Group (CIFG).

The CIFG has implemented laws and procedures to combat money laundering and terror financing, as well as mitigating associated risks.
Mohammed Al-Jadaan, the Saudi minister of finance, said: “Saudi Arabia’s commitment to fighting money laundering and terrorism financing is a strategic priority for the Kingdom and we will continue to develop and enhance our regulatory framework to achieve this goal.”

The FATF published a report last September that commended Saudi Arabia on the level of its technical compliance with FATF recommendations. The FATF report showed that the Kingdom’s anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing measures were strong and well-established.

Saudi Arabia also has an established legal framework and coordination process for implementing UN targeted financial sanctions on terrorism without delay.

In my opinion the EC’s proposals are not well thought out.

Saudi Arabia has called on EC officials and members of the European Parliament to visit Riyadh and observe the efforts and initiatives at all levels to fight terror financing and money laundering.

Talat Zaki Hafiz is an economist and financial analyst.

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