[Washington, DC] – An international organization, established by G-8 nations, has completed an in-depth evaluation of Saudi Arabia’s laws, regulations and practices to combat money laundering and terror financing. The evaluation conducted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) concluded that Saudi Arabia is “in line with the best international practices” and meets or exceeds all FATF recommendations in the areas of money laundering and terror financing.
According to Adel Al-Jubeir, Foreign Affairs Advisor to Crown Prince Abdullah: “A FATF team of experts came to Saudi Arabia and was given total access in order to understand what we are doing to fight money laundering and terror financing. The FATF team in its report confirms that the rules, regulations and control mechanisms put in place by Saudi Arabia to combat money laundering and terror financing are among the strictest in the world.”
The FATF was established by the G-7 countries (now G-8) in 1989 for the development and promotion of policies, both at national and international levels, to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. The Task Force is a policy-making body which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
In conducting the evaluation, the FATF examiners reviewed the Saudi legal and regulatory systems, criminal law enforcement systems, financial control mechanisms and the extent of international cooperation. The study found that Saudi Arabia has met all of the obligations of the FATF 40+8 recommendations, which comprise a comprehensive framework for anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorism efforts designed for universal application.
The FATF also identified a number of areas of excellence. For example, in the area of charities, the assessors determined that the Saudi system of regulation of charities was more thorough and more effective than anything they had encountered elsewhere, and that it should serve as a model for other jurisdictions. The FATF team also determined that the country’s investigation and enforcement mechanisms were substantive and effective.
Al-Jubeir stated: “The FATF evaluation should make it clear to all that Saudi Arabia takes the issue of money laundering and terror financing seriously and that it will work hard to ensure that its financial institutions and charities cannot be used for criminal activities.”
The FATF also found areas where improvement is needed, and based on the FATF recommendations, Saudi Arabia has already taken corrective action. For example, the team believed that the definition of terrorist financing in the criminal law which proscribes it should be clearer. Subsequently, Saudi Arabia has clarified these definitions in the implementing regulations of these laws, which have removed any ambiguities in this respect.
According to Al-Jubeir: “Any fair-minded observer will conclude that the actions Saudi Arabia has taken are bold, decisive and effective. And God willing, they will help rid our world of the scourge of terrorism.”
[see summary of FATF report and conclusions]
[see SAMA Report on Initiatives And Actions Taken To Combat Terrorist Financing And Money Laundering ]