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EDITIONS
Monday, 9 September, 2002, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
More Saudi funds return home
Saudi Arabia's 2000 riyal note
Saudis deny they have funded terrorists
Saudi investors are exiting Europe after cutting their overseas cash deposits by 10% to $45.9bn in the first three months of 2002.

Data from banks in the US, Japan and Europe showed Saudi's withdrew $5bn in those three months, compared with $9.7bn for the whole of 2001, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the global clearing bank, said in its quarterly report.

"Almost the entire amount withdrawn by Saudi residents in the first quarter came from banks in Europe and most of the funds were denominated in US dollars," the BIS said.

It was the fourth successive quarter in which Saudi funds were repatriated and marks a substantial increase since the 11 September attacks, the resulting crackdown on the Islamic financial systems and the lawsuits threatening to freeze assets.

But the shift also coincides with the global stock market slump and turbulent oil prices.

"Coupled with new bank credit, withdrawals resulted in net flows of $7bn into the region in the first quarter... most (of which) went to oil-exporting countries, in particular Saudi Arabia," the BIS said.

Another Saudi accused

The data comes as the US Treasury listed another prominent Saudi businessman to its list of sponsors of terrorism and ordered his US assets frozen.

Wa'el Hamza Julaidan, who the US alleges is an associate of Osama bin Laden, is well-known as charity worker who has run the Rabita Trust Islamic charity since February 2000.

"Those who make this accusation should provide convincing evidence," Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif said about the asset freeze.

The oil-rich kingdom is the main US ally in the Gulf but Washington has identified 15 of the 19 suicide hijackers in last year's 11 September attacks as Saudis.

Saudi Arabia has more than 230 non-profit-making societies which raise about $270m annually for charitable work.

Many Saudi charities have been active in Afghanistan for more than two decades, which put them under US suspicion of funding al-Qaeda.


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European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

22 Aug 02 | Business
21 Aug 02 | Business
17 Aug 02 | Americas
16 Aug 02 | Middle East
16 Aug 02 | Americas
12 Mar 02 | Americas
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