Saudi Arabia to be the First Arab Country to join FATF

Saudi Arabia has become the first Arab country to be granted full membership after FATF group’s AGM in Orlando.

Saudi Arabia, being a “founding member” of the MENA arm of the group since November 2004 and an “observer member” upon an invitation from the International Financial Action Task Force (FATF) at the beginning of 2015, is the first Arab country to become a permanent member in FATF.

Saudi Arabia is the first Arab country to become a member of FATF—FATF, at the general meeting of the group held in Orlando in the United States of America during the period 19-21 June, agreed on Friday to grant Saudi Arabia a member seat, the first Arab country to win this membership.

Saudi Arabia’s accession comes at a time when FATF is celebrating its 30th anniversary since its first meeting in Paris, France, in 1989.

The approval came after Saudi Arabia’s submission of reports on the tangible progress it had achieved, describing the measures and efforts it had made in implementing the work plan adopted by the FATF.

It’s noteworthy that Saudi Arabia has been a founding member of the MENAFATF since November 2004. Saudi Arabia received an invitation from the FATF at the beginning of 2015 to join as an observer member to the FATF, the group responsible for issuing international standards, policies, and the best international practices to combat money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation of armaments.

MENAFATF’s mutual evaluation report on anti-money laundering and terrorism finance measures

The invitation was an appreciation of Saudi Arabia’s position at the international and regional levels, as well as its efforts and measures in the field of combating money laundering, financing of terrorism, and proliferation of armaments, its compliance with international standards and requirements, and its adherence to all international conventions.

Saudi Arabia’s accession to the FATF is in line with its financial and economic efforts and programs, and in accord with the Saudi vision 2030, which aims to support the development of the national economy and increase the efficiency of the financial sector as being important objectives of the ministry of finance-led financial sector development program.

By virtue of Saudi Arabia’s membership in the FATF, the number of permanent members of the FATF becomes 39, including the most influential countries in the world, such as the permanent member states of the Security Council and most of the G-20 countries.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia’s accession to FATFwill enhance its role in international forums and contribute to highlighting its efforts in the area of ​​combating money laundering, financing of terrorism and proliferation, and finding further geographical balance of the FATF member states as being a weighty country in the Middle East and North Africa region.

In addition, the Saudi participation with its experience along with the FATF member states, will contribute to the development and completion of the global system to combat money laundry, terrorist financing, and armament proliferation. Its membership in the group will enable Saudi Arabia to have the opportunity to participate directly in the formulation of FATF’s decisions and policies.

Saudi Arabia’s accession to the FATF will also contribute to enhancing the capabilities and expertise of Saudi specialists through direct knowledge of the experiences of the developed countries, and participation in the discussions held during the general meetings of the Group, as well as participation in the work and activities of the different team works.

Dr. Ahmad Al-Khulaifi, Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), Chairman of the Standing Committee against Money Laundering, chaired the Saudi delegation participating in the meeting.

Al-Khulaifi explained that this achievement is an appreciation of the great role played by Saudi Arabia in the field of combating money laundry at the international and regional levels and its support for international efforts and actions aimed at combating crime in its comprehensive sense, including crimes of money laundering, terrorism financing, and armament proliferation, adding to its concern on collaborating with the international community to serve the interests of states and Peoples.

On the other hand, “Currency-linked companies will be subject to rules to prevent the abuse of digital currencies such as Bitcoin in money laundering, in the world’s first regulatory attempt to clamp down on a fast-growing sector,” FATF said on Friday.

FATF, established 30 years ago to combat money laundering, has asked countries to tighten supervision of digital currency exchanges to prevent the use of those currencies in money laundering.

This move, which includes from countries ranging from the United States to China and bodies such as the European Commission, reflects FATF’s growing concern among international law enforcement agencies that digital currencies are being used to launder funds from crime proceeds.

“Countries will be forced to oversee digital currencies-linked companies, such as stock exchanges and assets custodians, who will have to conduct detailed customer checks and report suspicious transactions, FATF said in a statement.