European Union adds Nigeria, Saudi to dirty-money blacklist

Evarado Alatorre
Febrero 14, 2019

The European Commission has added Saudi Arabia to a list of 23 countries seen as havens for money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Brussels also added to its list Libya, Botswana, Ghana, Samoa, the Bahamas and the four United States territories of American Samoa, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam.

The new countries targeted by the commission, including Saudi Arabia and Panama, would join another 16 already on this register - such as Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Ethiopia and North Korea. They could reject it by qualified majority.

Also added to the list which was initially 16, are Saudi Arabia, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Panama, Libya, Botswana, Ghana, Samoa, the Bahamas and four USA territories of American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam.

The list now includes 23 jurisdictions, with Bosnia Herzegovina, Guyana, Laos, Uganda and Vanuatu removed.

The countries listed, however, are not expected to be sanctioned or have restrictions applied on their trade relations with the EU.

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"[The list] is a warning to the banking and financial sector that they must use extra caution when dealing with transactions from these countries", she added.

London has led a pushback against the EU list in past days, and at closed-door meetings urged the exclusion of Saudi Arabia, EU sources told Reuters. Several top British banks have operations there.

"The UK will continue to work with the Commission to ensure that the list that comes into force provides certainty to businesses and is as effective as possible at tackling illicit finance", a British Treasury spokesman said.

Criteria used to blacklist countries include weak sanctions against money laundering and terrorism financing, insufficient cooperation with the European Union on the matter and lack of transparency about the beneficial owners of companies and trusts. "Dirty money is the lifeblood of organized crime and terrorism".

The EU released its first ever blacklist previous year in the wake of the Panama Papers leak, but was widely criticised for failing to apply its criteria to its own states which have some of the world's worst tax havens. "These include Russian Federation, the City of London and its offshore territories as well as Azerbaijan", said Greens lawmaker Sven Giegold, who sits in the European Parliament special committee on financial crimes.

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