EU states block putting Saudi Arabia on dirty-money list

Member state unanimously rejected the move to put the kingdom on the blacklist



European Union member states unanimously rejected on Friday a proposal to blacklist Saudi Arabia and four US territories for lax controls on terrorism financing and money laundering, sources told Reuters.

Saudi Arabia, a major importer of EU weapons and goods, had lobbied against being branded a “high-risk” country, as had been proposed by the bloc’s executive European Commission.

Representatives of EU states meeting in Brussels on Friday agreed a statement on the matter, which was seen by Reuters and is expected to be formally adopted by justice and home affairs ministers meeting on Thursday.

“We cannot support the current proposal that was not established in a transparent and credible process that incentivises affected countries to take decisive action while also respecting their right to be heard,” the statement said.

The US Treasury Department has also spoken out against the proposal, saying the listing process was “flawed” and rejecting the inclusion of US territories American Samoa, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman recently sent letters to all EU leaders urging them to reconsider the inclusion of Riyadh on the list

Read After Saudi king’s letter, EU states move to block dirty-money list

A majority of 21 states was needed in order for the list to be blocked. Before the EU’s unanimous decision, an official told Reuters said that more than 20 countries, including Britain, France and all the largest members, had already declared their opposition to the listing.

Countries are blacklisted by the EU if they “have strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism regimes that pose significant threats to the financial system of the Union”. They can also be blacklisted if they do not provide sufficient information on company ownership or if their rules on reporting suspicious transactions or monitoring financial customers are considered too lax.