US voices ‘significant concerns’ over new EU money laundering blacklist

The US Treasury said on Wednesday it had "significant concerns" about the substance of a European Union Commission proposal to put 23 non-EU countries and terrirorities on a money laundering and terrorist financing blacklist. (AFP)
Updated 13 February 2019

US voices ‘significant concerns’ over new EU money laundering blacklist

  • US financial institutions will "not take into account" list, which includes Saudi Arabia
  • The list must be approved by the European Parliament and EU members

BRUSSELS: The US Treasury said on Wednesday it had "significant concerns" about the substance of a European Union Commission proposal to put 23 non-EU countries and terrirorities on a money laundering and terrorist financing blacklist.

The list of countries, which includes Saudi Arabia, was released on Tuesday and names states the EU Commission believes to pose a high risk when it comes to money laundering or funding terrorist activities.

A US Treasury statement said that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is the global standard-setting body for combating money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing.

The statement said the FATF, which includes the US, the European Commission, 15 EU member states, and 20 other jurisdictions, already develops a list of high-risk countries as part of a careful and comprehensive process.

The US treasury said the EU commission had not given the countries concerned sufficient time to discuss regulations, adding that it did not expect the US financial institutions to take the EU list into account in their policies and procedures.

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said on Wednesday that the list, which also named countries like North Korea and Nigeria, will be used to increase checks and investigations on financial operations to find any "suspicious money flows."

Jourova said that "we have to make sure that dirty money from other countries does not find its way to our financial system." She said that "Europe cannot be a laundromat for dirty money."

The European Parliament and the member states must now approve the list over the next weeks.


Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

Updated 12 July 2020

Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

  • Exercise being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory

HONG KONG: Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers turned up over the weekend to vote in an unofficial two-day primary election held by the city’s pro-democracy camp as it gears up to field candidates for an upcoming legislative poll.
The exercise is being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory in a move widely seen as chipping away at the “one country, two systems” framework under which Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997. It was passed in response to last year’s massive protests calling for greater democracy and more police accountability.
Throngs of people lined up at polling booths in the summer heat to cast their vote despite a warning by Hong Kong’s constitutional affairs minister, Eric Tsang last week that the primaries could be in breach of the new national security law, because it outlaws interference and disruption of duties by the local government.
Organizers have dismissed the comments, saying they just want to hold the government accountable by gaining a majority in the legislature.
The legislation prohibits what Beijing views as secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities or as foreign intervention in Hong Kong affairs. Under the law, police now have sweeping powers to conduct searches without warrants and order Internet service providers and platforms to remove messages deemed to be in violation of the legislation.
On Friday, police raided the office of the Public Opinion Research Institute, a co-organizer of the primary elections. The computer system was suspected of being hacked, causing a data leak, police said in a statement, and an investigation is ongoing.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp, which includes multiple parties, is attempting to join forces and use the primaries as a guide to field the best candidates in the official legislative election in September. Its goal is to win a majority in the legislature, which is typically skewed toward the pro-Beijing camp.
To hold the primary elections, pro-democracy activists had raised money via crowd funding. They pledged to veto the government’s budget if they clinch a majority in the legislature. Under the Basic Law, under which Hong Kong is governed, city leader Carrie Lam must resign if an important bill such as the budget is vetoed twice.
On Saturday alone, nearly 230,000 people voted at polling booths set up across the city, exceeding organizers’ estimates of a 170,000 turnout over the weekend.