Saudi Arabia has worked to combat money laundering, terrorist financing for decades: EU envoy

The 28 member states of the European Union all backed a decision on Thursday to reject a proposal from the EU executive to add Saudi Arabia to the blacklist. (File/Reuters)
Updated 08 March 2019
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Saudi Arabia has worked to combat money laundering, terrorist financing for decades: EU envoy

  • The 28 member states of the EU all backed a decision on Thursday to reject a proposal from the EU executive to add Saudi Arabia to the blacklist
  • The decision will force the European Commission to prepare a new list

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has worked to combat money laundering and terrorist financing for decades, Saad bin Mohammed Al-Arifi, the Kingdom’s EU envoy, said on Thursday. He added that all EU states were surprised by the blacklist of countries suspected of being lax on terrorist financing and money laundering.  

Al-Arifi’s comments come after the 28 member states of the EU all backed a decision on Thursday to reject a proposal from the EU executive to add Saudi Arabia to the list.  

EU states said in a statement the unanimous decision was taken because the European Commission’s proposed list was not established in a transparent process that encouraged countries to take action while also respected their right to be heard.

The decision will force the European Commission to prepare a new list.

“I’m disappointed, but I hope I don’t look like somebody who is giving up,” the EU commissioner in charge of the listing, Vera Jourova, said on Thursday.

The process had been conducted in a transparent manner and followed EU states’ commitments to act against money laundering and terrorism financing, she said.

The commission had published last month a provisional blacklist with 23 jurisdictions, including the four US territories of American Samoa, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam, in a move that Washington said was “flawed.”

Among other listed countries were Nigeria, Panama, Libya, the Bahamas, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and Afghanistan.

In a hearing in the EU Parliament, Jourova this week said she was subjected to heavy lobbying by some countries affected by the decision.

Earlier, Salman Al-Ansari, founder of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee, told Arab News that EU confirmation of the list would have caused damage in three areas.

“First, it would have degraded the Financial Action Task Force (FATF),” he said. “Second, it would have harmed the EU’s reputation and made its lists politicized rather than authentic and legitimate. “Third, it would have greatly damaged the EU’s financial interests with their biggest trading partner in the Middle East.”

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar in Riyadh, said the Kingdom “should never have been put there in the first place.”

He added: “We have been in the forefront of fighting terrorism in myriad ways, including by cutting off financing. To put Saudi Arabia on that list is laughable.”


Four killed in failed terrorist attack on interior ministry building north of Riyadh

Updated 21 April 2019
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Four killed in failed terrorist attack on interior ministry building north of Riyadh

  • Three government security personnel suffered minor injuries during the exchange of fire
  • The identities of the four gunmen are still being determined

RIYADH: Four heavily armed attackers were killed in a failed terrorist attack on an interior ministry building in Zulfi, north of Riyadh.

A spokesperson from the Kingdom’s Presidency of State Security also said that three government security personnel suffered minor injuries during the exchange of fire, Saudi state news agency SPA reported.

Al-Arabiya reported that the assailants belonged to Daesh, but the group had not claimed responsibility for the attack and there was no official confirmation from Saudi authorities as to the identity of the attackers on Sunday afternoon.

“The security authorities in the Presidency managed to thwart the terrorist act targeting the center of investigations ... and dealt with them as required by the situation,” the spokesman was quoted by SPA as saying.

The identities of the four gunmen are still being determined by government authorities, the news agency added.

Special security personnel were still working on the site to assess and identify the explosive materials that the terrorists had in their possession, the spokesperson said, and the findings would be announced later.

The suspects, who were on board a car, tried to crash through the main entrance of the General Directorate of Investigation’s Center in Riyadh, but were intercepted by security to prevent the vehicle from gaining access into the compund.

Two gunmen died during the initial exchange of fire with the security forces, while one was killed as he attempted to flee. The fourth attacker died as he tried to blow up an explosive belt,  pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported. 

The Kingdom of Bahrain condemned the actions of the suspects and the terrorist attack on Sunday, the country's news agency said.