Saudi Arabia has occupied an advanced ranking among the G20 countries and other developed nations in fighting money laundering and terror financing, according to a financial watchdog.
"This has been made possible by enacting stringent rules for eradicating financial crimes and by complying with the provisions of international bodies like the France-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF)," said Talat Zaki Hafiz, secretary-general of Saudi Banks, a watchdog set up by banks to curb financial crimes.
Hafiz said the Kingdom had complied with all 40 recommendations for combating money laundering issued by the FATF. "It has also approved the nine recommendations on combating terror financing," said Hafiz, while launching the third fraud awareness campaign in Riyadh Saturday. The event was attended by senior banking officials.
Hafiz said the initiative to curb money laundering, fraud and terror financing has been strongly backed by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency. SAMA has set up a special unit that regulates and supervises all local banks to ensure the banking system is not exploited by money launderers.
Asked about the compliance of Saudi banks and financial institutions with the guidelines issued by international agencies, he said the Kingdom and all its banks have been at the forefront of implementing international resolutions of the UN Security Council on money laundering and financing of terrorism.
The Saudi Financial Investigation Unit of the Ministry of Interior has issued a comprehensive manual outlining the measures the government has taken with respect to international developments in the financial and non-financial sectors to prevent money laundering and terror finance activities.
Hafiz said the third campaign to raise awareness about banking fraud was designed to foil fraud attempts, educate the public about fraudulent transactions and ensure that people take basic steps to protect their personal details from criminals. Saudi Banks is at the forefront of the campaign, said the secretary-general.
The campaign aims to raise awareness on how to foil fraud attempts, especially when using PIN numbers, electronic channels and credit cards. Hafiz pointed out that more than 4,800 fraudulent transactions were carried out in Saudi Arabia taking into account ATM and point-of-sale (POS) transactions over the last three years.
This figure is, however, quite small, keeping in view the more than 1 trillion banking transactions reported annually in Saudi Arabia, he explained.