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After Saudi Arabia Protected, EU Will Revive Money Laundering Blacklist

The EU’s Justice Commissioner, Vera Jourova, announced a blacklist of countries believed to be aiding money laundering to be revived. The action comes after Saudi Arabia allegedly pressured to be taken off said list, and the United States complaining about four overseas territories to be added.
Jourova told The Financial Times that a newly-comprised European Commission by October would use a new formula to identify countries which aren’t complying. She did not specify on the Commission’s stance on Saudi Arabia, which has major trade deals with the EU.
Saudi influence is said to be so strong that a major British defense company accused of paying bribes to princes to secure contracts was protected by the United Kingdom government. Public officials didn’t deny but said the matter was of national interest.
The Saudis flexed their political and financial muscle in February, convincing 27 of the EU’s 28 member states to provide cover and block the release of a blacklist draft on which it would have been included. They were successful despite being accused of ordering the assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, for which no one has been prosecuted.
The EU’s most powerful members, the UK, France and Germany jumped to Saudi Arabia’s aid and complained they weren’t informed and that the list was not drawn up in a “transparent and credible process,” without giving further explanation.
Jourova told the news site that it “is still not easy for me to swallow”, but that she’d try again with a new blacklist using a new methodology that has been devised in co-operation with EU capitals. It remains unclear whether it was tailor made to exempt the Saudis.
“I believe we honestly did our best to have the methodology right and to have the assessment right,” said Jourova, who has been nominated by the Czech government to serve a second term as Prague’s EU Commissioner from November. She did not offer to resign in protect over her rebuff.
The countries who were going to be blacklisted said they should have been notified, including Guam, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Puerto Rico, who don’t appear on the global authority Financial Action Task Force money laundering list.
Jourova hinted that despite her concerns that Saudi Arabia would be left off again although in July it was reported that the country could be put on a gray list if it agrees to EU reforms to meet worries about countries that represent a threat to the bloc because of lax controls against terrorism financing and money laundering.
Sven Giegold, a Green Member of the European Parliament from Germany, told the news site that the new list should not “bow to the political pressure exerted by the member states”.
“Rather than shortening the list, it should be completed by countries such as Russia, Azerbaijan and the United Arab Emirates,” he said.

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