12 Jul 2019
The European Union is preparing an overhaul of its listing of countries that pose money-laundering risks, an EU confidential document shows, a review that could allow Saudi Arabia to be moved to a new gray list after having been briefly blacklisted.
The EU executive added the oil-rich kingdom in February to its blacklist of 23 jurisdictions that represent a threat to the bloc because of lax controls against terrorism financing and money laundering, but after Saudi pressure the list was struck down by EU states.
Fearful of the economic impact of that listing, European governments led by Britain and France said the EU executive commission had given no chance to Riyadh and other listed states to address concerns.
Required by EU rules to adopt a list, the commissioner in charge of the issue, Czech liberal Vera Jourova, went back to the drawing board and has now come up with a revised process to list countries.
Instead of directly blacklisting those with shortfalls, the new process would be based on a “staged approach” under which risk countries would need to commit to changing their rules and practices by set deadlines, the document seen by Reuters said.
This would effectively produce a gray list of jurisdictions that would be blacklisted only if they failed to apply required reforms, a European official told Reuters.
Saudi Arabia, the largest economy included in the original blacklist, would likely be relegated to the less contentious gray list, the official said, a move that could ease investors’ concerns about the reputational consequences of the listing.
That could also avert obstruction from EU states and fresh diplomatic rows with the kingdom the year before Riyadh hosts the G20 summit of the world’s 20 most industrialized countries in November 2020.
By Francesco Guarascio, Reuters, 11 July 2019
Read more at Reuters
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