Bri­tain pushes to take Saudi Ara­bia off Europe’s dirty money black­list

Hindustan Times (Bathinda) - - Htworld - Reuters let­[email protected]­dus­tan­

BRUS­SELS: Bri­tain is lead­ing a group of Euro­pean Union (EU) states who are try­ing to block a plan to in­clude Saudi Ara­bia and 22 other ju­ris­dic­tions on a black­list of coun­tries that pose mon­ey­laun­der­ing and ter­ror­ism fi­nanc­ing threats, sources said.

The EU’S ex­ec­u­tive com­mis­sion re­cently adopted a draft list that adds Saudi Ara­bia, Panama and small Pa­cific and Caribbean is­lands to the ex­ist­ing list of 16 states, which cur­rently in­cludes Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Ye­men and North Korea.

The list needs the en­dorse­ment of a ma­jor­ity of the 28 EU na­tions but Bri­tain and other heavy­weights of the bloc, in­clud­ing Germany, France, Italy and Spain, are rais­ing con­cerns, three EU of­fi­cials told Reuters.

Two of the sources said EU states’ re­luc­tance to en­dorse the list was mostly driven by con­cerns over the in­clu­sion of Saudi Ara­bia and Panama on the list.

Listed coun­tries face higher scru­tiny in their fi­nan­cial deal­ings with the EU, with bloc’s banks forced to carry out ad­di­tional checks on pay­ments in­volv­ing en­ti­ties from those ju­ris­dic­tions.

Bri­tain is the coun­try that is push­ing more openly not to in­clude Riyadh in the list, one of­fi­cial said, while Spain is in­sist­ing it ex­cludes Panama.

Oil-rich Saudi Ara­bia is a top im­porter of EU prod­ucts and weapons, while Panama is a ma­jor fi­nan­cial cen­tre in Latin Amer­ica with many EU firms in­volved in the multi-bil­lion-dol­lar ex­pan­sion of its trans-oceanic canal.

Bri­tish of­fi­cials were not im­me­di­ately avail­able for a com­ment.

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