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13 February 2019 EU’s Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing blacklist: Saudi Arabia added, Tunisia remains

On 13 February, the European Commission (EC) adopted the new “blacklist” of 23 countries with strategic shortcomings in their anti-money laundering and terrorist financing frameworks. The countries were selected on the base of the following criteria: (1) Countries having a systemic impact on the integrity of the EU financial system, (2) Jurisdictions reviewed as international offshore financial centers, (3) Economic relevance with the EU and the magnitude of the financial centers. One featured newcomer is Saudi Arabia. Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan deplored the decision and declared that the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism “is a strategic priority” and that they will “continue to develop and improve” their “regulatory and legislative frameworks to achieve this goal”. Another country that is among the blacklisted countries is Tunisia. Patrice Bergamini, EU Ambassador in Tunisia, insisted that “it is not a new list, but an update”, recalling that there are two lists of the EC. The first concerns tax evasion issues and from which Tunisia managed to shift from the black to the grey list and is set to leave in March 2019. The second list includes countries with strategic shortcomings in their anti-money laundering and terrorist financing frameworks, to which Bergamini said that “the objective is to enable Tunisia to fulfill its commitments to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as soon as possible” and the cooperation between the EU and Tunisia is ongoing in order to allow Tunisia “to leave this second list before the summer of 2019”. Former Finance Minister, Houcine Dimassi, said that by keeping Tunisia on the blacklist the EC is pressuring Tunisia to sign the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). The Commission has adopted the list in the form of a delegated regulation. It will now be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council for approval within one month (with a possible extension of one month). Once approved, the delegated regulation will be published in the Official Journal and will enter into force 20 days after its publication.