Saudi Arabia cracks down on suspicious funds
Saudi Arabia has set up a financial intelligence unit at the interior ministry as part of a series of measures to crack down on money laundering and funding terrorism, a newspaper reported Thursday, December 13.
Saudi banks have also taken a number of steps to prevent misuse of funds to finance terrorism, Al-Watan daily quoted the Saudi embassy in Washington as saying. The new intelligence unit will work in close coordination with the Saudi monetary and financial authorities.
The decisions are part of the Saudi contribution to the worldwide anti-terror campaign and the crackdown on its sources of funding following the September 11 attacks in the United States, the embassy said. Acting on instructions by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), or the central bank, Saudi banks and financial institutions have conducted investigations on transactions made by specific people or groups in the past few years. They also formed high-level supervisory committees to coordinate efforts to freeze accounts and assets accused of funding terrorism.
These committees must respond to local and international inquiries about suspicious accounts only through SAMA, an embassy statement added. A high-level US team is visiting Riyadh for talks with Saudi officials to coordinate in the financial war against terrorism. Discussions of the 10-member delegation have been kept confidential. The team was also expected to discuss the establishment of a mechanism to supervise the activities of charities.
The delegation, comprising officials from the US Treasury, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Department and National Security Council, began discussions with Saudi officials on Saturday. SAMA has a special unit to combat money laundering which cooperates with monetary and security authorities, the embassy statement said. Saudi banks are banned from opening accounts for non-residents or firms without the prior approval of SAMA.
A number of Saudi businessmen and organizations who appeared on US lists of people suspected of funding terrorism have categorically denied the charges and some are fighting cases in courts.— (AFP, Riyadh)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)