BRUSSELS: The adoption of a European Union money-laundering blacklist, which includes Saudi Arabia and four Unites States territories, could be blocked by EU governments under a procedure initiated on Thursday, two EU diplomats told Reuters.
At a meeting on Thursday, some national envoys opposed the adoption of the list, triggering a process that could lead to the delay or withdrawal of the blacklist, the diplomats said.
For the list to be blocked, a majority of 21 states is necessary. EU officials said that around 15 countries have already declared their opposition to the listing.
The list was first adopted by the European Commission on Feb 13 and lists 23 jurisdictions including Nigeria, Panama, Libya, the Bahamas and the four US territories of American Samoa, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam.
Saudi Arabia previously expressed its regret about the European Commission's decision 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 Agency. “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.