Saudi Arabia strengthened its anti-money laundering regulatory framework

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
  • Follow author on
Representational Image

Saudi Central Bank Governor H.E. Dr. Ahmed Alkholeify said that the Kingdom has strengthened its regulatory and legislative framework to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing in line with recommendations developed by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

He was speaking at the 12th edition of the compliance and money laundering seminar organized by the Saudi Central Bank and Refinitiv.

H.E. Dr. Ahmed Alkholeify
H.E. Dr. Ahmed Alkholeify
Saudi Central Bank

“Based on its belief in the importance of enhancing compliance with the international standards issued by the Financial Action Task Force for combating money laundering and terrorist financing, the kingdom has been keen over the past years to strengthen the legislative and regulatory framework to combat these crimes. The relevant authorities have approved the regulations and instructions that contribute to raising the level of protection of financial transactions and their integrity and transparency.”

The countries around the world are tightening controls on money laundering and the prevention of terrorist funding. The UAE Ministry of Economy has recently introduced a new anti-money laundering department to ensure that all non-financial businesses and professionals are obeying the local laws.

And also all hawala providers were instructed by the UAE Central Bank to register with the central bank to “enhance transparency in financial transactions” and reinforce the oversight of money transfers. It also levied administrative sanctions on two exchange houses operating in the kingdom and fined them $395,000 (Dh1.45 million) for failing to comply with the anti-money laundering laws of the country.

Mr. Alkholifey said the kingdom’s Permanent Committee on Anti-Money Laundering is conducting a range of measures and offering foreign expertise to improve the authorities’ performance and effectiveness in resolving the issue.

“The Anti-Money Laundering Permanent Committee, in partnership with the appropriate committees in the kingdom, has been keen on developing the performance of the competent authorities, undertaking several initiatives and providing international expertise to contribute to enhancing the performance and efficiency of the authorities concerned, and boosting the application of international obligations and standards in this regard,” he further added.

G20 leaders are dedicated to fighting against the activities such as money laundering, terrorism and weapons trafficking funding, said Mr. Alkholifey, who is also the chairman of the Kingdom’s Anti-Money Laundering Committee. “These crimes affect the global financial system and G20 leaders will work closely with the FATF to prevent criminal organizations from benefiting from the conditions experienced by countries of the world”, he continued.

According to the cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, more than 2.57 million cyber-attacks were founded in the Middle East region in the second quarter of this year.

The company stated, “Saudi Arabia, the biggest Arab economy, witnessed 973,061 phishing attacks, the most in the region, followed by the UAE with 617,347 attacks.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the kingdom is taking effective steps to detect cybercrimes and is encouraging financial institutions to improve electronic and digital payments, noted the central bank governor.

“In response to the threats arising from the spread of the corona pandemic, the kingdom, represented by the competent authorities, including the Saudi Central Bank, has taken many procedures and measures necessary to manage these risks by developing appropriate policies to respond to them,” concluded Mr. Alkholifey.