The European Commission has added seven countries, including Saudi Arabia, Panama and Nigeria, to a blacklist of nations this poses a threat because terrorist financing and lax money laundering are controlled.
The new countries, which will be addressed by the Commission on Wednesday, are already joining 16. increase the total to 23
The Commission stated that it had added jurisdictions with "strategic shortcomings in its framework to combat money laundering and the fight against terrorism".
This measure is part of a tough fight against money laundering, as several banks have hit European Union banks in recent months.
However, it has sparked criticism from several EU states that are concerned about their economic relations with the listed states, notably Saudi Arabia.
"We have established the world's strongest anti-money laundering standards, but we need to make sure that dirty money from other countries does not get into our financial system." Vera Jourova, EU Commissioner for Justice, said in a statement.
"Dirty money is the lifeblood of organized crime and terrorism," she added, urging the countries on the list to "quickly redress." Defects ".
The 28 EU countries now have one month, which can be extended to two months to confirm the list. You could reject it by qualified majority.
Jourova, who suggested the list, told a press conference in Strasbourg that she was confident that the states would not block her.
Listing does not trigger any sanctions, but obliges European banks to tighten controls on transactions with clients and institutions in these countries.
In a statement published by the Saudi Press Agency On Thursday, Riad said he regretted the Commission's decision to include the Kingdom in the list.
"Saudi Arabia's commitment to the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing is a strategic priority, and we will continue to develop and improve our regulatory and legal frameworks to achieve this goal," said Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan.
"Russia, UK is missing"
Brussels also added to its list Libya, Botswana, Ghana, Samoa, the Bahamas and the four territories of the United States of America, American Samoa, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam.
The other countries listed are Afghanistan, North Korea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Yemen.
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Guyana, Laos, Uganda and Vanuatu have been removed.
Despite pressure to exclude Riyadh from the list, the Commission decided to list the Kingdom and confirmed a Reuters report in January.
The movement comes as tensions between Riyadh and European capitals have been exacerbated by the assassination of columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul last year.
The Saudi Arabian government office did not respond immediately to a request from the Reuters news agency.
Critics said the list did not include some countries involved in money laundering scandals in Europe.
"Some of the biggest dirty money laundering machines are still missing, including Russia, the City of London and its offshore territories, and Azerbaijan," said Green EU lawmaker Sven Giegold, a member of the European Parliament's Special Committee on Financial Crimes.
MEP Eva Joly, a former examining magistrate, welcomed the new list, but suggested that the Commission "publish the country evaluations in order to increase the transparency of the process and avoid allegations of political negotiation".
European countries such as Cyprus or the UK should also be on the list.
Panama said it should be removed from the list because it recently passed stricter anti-money laundering rules.
Jourova said the Commission will continue to monitor closely other unidentified areas, including the US and Russia.
The EU list is larger than that of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global body that currently includes 12 states – all on the EU blacklist – but not the Saudi Arabia, Panama and US regions. The FATF will update its list next week.