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EU Unanimously Rejects Money Laundering Blacklist

EU Unanimously Rejects Money Laundering Blacklist

Friday, 8 March, 2019 - 10:30
European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, January 18, 2018. (Reuters)
Brussels - Abdullah Mustafa
The European Council at the level of foreign ministers rejected a draft list of 23 countries submitted by the European Commission considered as high risk in the field of money laundering and terrorist financing.

A statement said the Council “unanimously decided to reject a draft list put forward by the Commission of 23 high-risk third countries in the area of money laundering and terrorist financing.”

It added that the decision was based on the grounds that it “cannot support the current proposal that was not established in a transparent and resilient process that actively incentivizes affected countries to take decisive action while also respecting their right to be heard.”

The Commission will now have to propose a new draft list of high-risk third countries that will address member states’ concerns, the statement noted.

According to EU institutions, the fifth directive on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing sets out an obligation to identify third country jurisdictions, which have strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regimes that pose significant threats to the financial system of the EU.

The listing aims to protect the EU financial system from risks of money laundering and terrorist financing coming from third countries. On this basis, banks and other financial institutions are required to be more vigilant and to carry out extra checks of transactions involving high-risk third countries.

European sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the refusal of representatives of EU member states to include Saudi Arabia on the blacklist is an “additional defeat to the European executive body, whose term will end this year.”

The list that was presented to member states also includes US administrative territories, in addition to Afghanistan, Bahamas, North Korea, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Syria, Yemen, Laos, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Uganda, Ethiopia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Guyana and others.

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