Saudi Arabia describes inclusion on EU ‘dirty money’ list as regrettable

Saudi Arabia’s commitment to combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism is a strategic priority. (Shutterstock)
Updated 14 February 2019

Saudi Arabia describes inclusion on EU ‘dirty money’ list as regrettable

  • Saudi authorities highlighted the efforts being made by the Kingdom to combat such crimes

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has expressed its regret about the decision by the European Commission 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. In response, Saudi authorities highlighted the efforts being made by the Kingdom to combat such crimes.
“The Kingdom finds it 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 Association. “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.”
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 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,” said Mohammed Al-Jadaan, the Saudi minister of finance.
“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.”
The minister invited European Commission 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.
Al-Jadaan added that The Kingdom looks forward to a constructive dialogue with its partners in the European Union to help strengthen and support efforts to combat the flow of ‘dirty money.’
The Saudi response came just hours after the US Treasury on Wednesday expressed “significant concerns” about the substance of the European Commission list, which was released the previous day. It pointed out that the FATF is the global standard-setting body for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing, and that the task force — the members of which include the US, the European Commission, 15 EU member states and 20 other jurisdictions —already compiles a list of high-risk countries as part of a careful and comprehensive process.
The Treasury said the EU commission had not given the listed countries sufficient time to discuss regulations, and added that it did not expect US financial institutions to take the EU list into account when deciding policies and procedures.
EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said on Wednesday that the list, which also includes countries such as North Korea and Nigeria, will help to increase checks and investigations on financial operations to find “suspicious money flows.”
“We have to make sure that dirty money from other countries does not find its way to our financial system,” she said. “Europe cannot be a laundromat for dirty money.”
The list will now go to the European Parliament and member states for approval over the next few weeks.


Snap happy: Every face tells a story for Saudi photographer

Updated 20 February 2020

Snap happy: Every face tells a story for Saudi photographer

  • “There is something majestic about people’s faces, their expressions,” says Abdullah Al-Joghiman

DHAHRAN: Saudi portrait photographer Abdullah Al-Joghiman has a message for everybody: You are beautiful just the way you are.

If you don’t believe him, let him take your picture.

“Even if you’re not photogenic, or think you look bad in pictures, I can always turn your frown upside down,” he said.

Al-Joghiman is a full-time financial analyst for the Saudi Electricity Co., but allows plenty of time for his work as a freelance portrait and event photographer on the side.

“I started off doing landscape photography, but I love portrait photography more. Landscape photographers have to travel a lot, and I wasn’t able to commit to that lifestyle for many reasons. But since I was a child I’ve always loved taking pictures of people. There is something majestic about people’s faces, their expressions,” he told Arab News.

The 34-year-old was born in Al-Hofuf and now lives in Dammam, but his passion for photography has taken him all over the Kingdom and to other areas of the world.

Al-Joghiman at the 2018 Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai. (Supplied)

Al-Joghiman has been asked to shoot for local events such as Gamers’ Con and internationally at conventions in Kuwait, Singapore and the UAE. In 2019, he was commissioned to photograph the World Cosplay Summit in Japan, traveling with a Saudi team competing at the event for the first time.

“It was amazing, I met people from around 20 countries who came to take part,” he said. “It was a great experience.”

Completely self-taught, Al-Joghiman caught the photography bug at college and has been training himself ever since. “I’ve been dabbling in photography since high school, but I started taking it more seriously in college. I’ve been shooting professionally since 2012 or 2013,” he said.

Al-Joghiman started off humbly, with a camera-centric smartphone, but has since expanded his collection significantly, and now shoots with a variety of high-tech cameras from Sony. Now he is attracting interest from both local and international sponsors, especially in the gaming and cosplay areas.

“Cosplayers are kind of difficult to shoot because they can be perfectionists, but I love seeing the joy on their faces when they see the final pictures. That makes it worthwhile,” he said.

Al-Joghiman is happy that social restrictions on photography in Saudi Arabia are easing, allowing him to find more opportunities to do the work he loves.

“It’s difficult to take pictures of people here, especially strangers, but I can’t really blame them, considering that they are not really used to that in our culture. But things are changing and it’s much easier to be a photographer in Saudi Arabia now,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

Abdullah Al-Joghiman has been asked to shoot for local events such as Gamers’ Con and internationally at conventions in Kuwait, Singapore and the UAE. In 2019, he was commissioned to photograph the World Cosplay Summit in Japan, traveling with a Saudi team competing at the event for the first time.

He is grateful for the Ministry of Culture’s efforts to revive the Kingdom’s art scene, and has long hoped that photography will become more regulated in the country.

“The market for photography and videography really needs to be regulated. It’s hard enough putting a price on one’s work without scoping out the competition and finding that someone else is charging thousands for just a headshot when I’m doing shoots for two or three hundred,” he said.

“I love my work, and I’d love to be able to do it for free, but at the end of the day I still need to eat,” he said.

Al-Joghiman doesn’t want to limit anyone else’s opportunities but simply wants the playing field evened out a little.

“As a photographer, I just want a fair chance for everyone. More importantly, a client should know exactly what they are paying for,” he said.

His advice to young Saudis looking to become photographers is this: “If you pursue photography, don’t worry. Just do what you love, and if people tell you that they don’t look good in pictures, convince them by taking a picture of them.”

AlJoghiman’s work can be found on Instagram and Twitter (@finalecco), and on his website, https://www.eccofantasyph.com