The European Commission added Saudi Arabia, Panama, Nigeria and other jurisdictions to a blacklist of nations seen as posing a threat because of lax controls on terrorism financing and money laundering, the EU executive said on Wednesday.
The move is part of a crackdown on money laundering after several scandals at EU banks but has been criticized by several EU countries including Britain worried about their economic relations with the listed states, notably Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi government said it regretted the decision in a statement published by the Saudi Press Agency, adding: “Saudi Arabia’s commitment to combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism is a strategic priority”.
Panama said it should be removed from the list because it recently adopted stronger rules against money laundering.
Despite pressure to exclude Riyadh from the list, the commission decided to list the kingdom, confirming a Reuters report in January.
Apart from reputational damage, inclusion on the list complicates financial relations with the EU. The bloc’s banks will have to carry out additional checks on payments involving entities from listed jurisdictions.
The list now includes 23 jurisdictions, up from 16. The commission said it added jurisdictions with “strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing regimes”.
Other newcomers to the list are Libya, Botswana, Ghana, Samoa, the Bahamas and the four United States territories of American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam.
The other listed states are Afghanistan, North Korea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Yemen.
Bosnia, Guyana, Laos, Uganda and Vanuatu were removed.