2003 Press Release

Saudi Arabian monetary agency implements new regulations regarding charities

[Washington, DC] -- The Head Office of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) recently distributed a circular to all banks and financial institutions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia requiring the full and immediate implementation of nine new policies and procedures that relate to the accounts of charitable and welfare institutions. SAMA Governor Hamad Saud Al Sayyari issued the following order in regard to the updated directives: “These rules and instructions are to be implemented immediately upon receipt of this circular, and SAMA is to be informed on the actions taken.”

According to Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin Sultan, “Charitable funds can no longer go outside of Saudi Arabia without strict government oversight and control.”

The new policies and procedures have been implemented to ensure that funds meant for charitable purposes are not misappropriated. For example, all bank accounts of a charitable or welfare society must be identified and consolidated into a single account for each such society; and deposits in these accounts will be accepted only after the depositor provides the bank with identification and all other required information for verification. No charitable or welfare society can open or operate these bank accounts without first presenting a valid copy of the required license. Cash withdrawals from such accounts are strictly prohibited.

Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan declared: “We have closed the door on the possibility for charitable giving to be misappropriated for illegal purposes.”

In another memo issued by SAMA’s Head Office regarding its Rules Governing Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Terrorist Financing, the Agency states: “SAMA intends to verify the implementation of these rules by Saudi banks through the Agency’s on-site inspections, receipt of regular compliance reports and certification by external auditors.” The rules incorporate the Banking Control Law, all of SAMA’s regulations, the FATF 40 Recommendations, the FATF 8 Special Recommendations on Terrorist Financing, and all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.

Saudi Arabia remains determined to combat and bankrupt terrorism. Since the recent terrorist attacks on Riyadh, the Kingdom has accelerated its counter-terror activities and efforts in order to protect the security of its citizens and residents.