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Last Updated: Friday, 2 July, 2004, 19:35 GMT 20:35 UK
Saudi urged to fight terror funds
Money crimes generic
Saudi was praised for its efforts but urged to work harder
Saudi Arabia must tighten its laws to fight terrorist financing, an anti-money laundering watchdog has said.

The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) also called on the country to speed up co-operation with international investigations.

The FATF said Saudi Arabia "almost" complies with all of its guidelines on preventing money laundering, but added more needed to be done in key areas.

The kingdom should be more prepared to seize funds linked to terror, it said.

"It's a positive report," FATF secretary general Patrick Moulette said.


He welcomed new anti-terrorism and money laundering laws brought in by Saudi - but added more work was needed to bring them up to international standards.

One shortcoming is the fact that the kingdom defines terrorist financing as a kind of money laundering, implying that any money involved has to be from illegal sources for the transaction to be considered a crime, the report said.

It also said that a requirement for all investigations into suspect transfers to be passed through the central Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency was creating a bottleneck which was slowing down inquiries by foreign and Saudi agencies.

The FATF report said Saudi "should review and amend its legislation" to allow quicker and easier access to financial data in terror probes.

A further recommendation urged the country's government to demand more identification from people wiring funds abroad.


On a positive note the FATF found Riyadh had clamped down on money transfers by charity organisations, which in the past have been suspected of channelling money abroad to help radical groups and individuals.

Following the 11 September 2001 attacks, the US government had accused Saudi Arabia of being lax about its control over terrorist money transfers.

The FATF report also announced that Guatemala had been removed from its blacklist of countries or territories which fail to provide enough co-operation with international efforts to tackle money laundering.

"Significant steps" such as new laws requiring off shore banks to be licensed and supervised, as well as compelling staff to report suspect transactions had seen the central American country removed from the list.

Nigeria, the Philippines, Indonesia, Burma, Nauru and the Cook Islands are still on the FATF blacklist.

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