‘Money laundering must be contained’, says Saudi central bank
Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency’s governor has advised banks and financial institutions to enhance their capabilities to combat money laundering.
March 24, 2010 12:28 by Ben Flanagan
The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency’s (SAMA) governor has advised banks and financial institutions to enhance their capabilities to combat money laundering.
Muhammad Al-Jasser was making the keynote address at a two-day symposium on compliance and anti-money laundering at the Institute of Banking (IOB) in Riyadh on Tuesday.
“We should enhance our capabilities and do our utmost to fulfill the tasks entrusted to us. Achieving success also requires cooperation among concerned authorities and an exchange of information that would help achieve our goals of dealing positively and effectively with the challenges we face,” the governor said.
Describing money laundering as a heinous crime at the security, economic and moral levels, Al-Jasser said that the Kingdom introduced a money-laundering law in 2003.
He added that SAMA has appointed a permanent committee comprising representatives from seven ministries and government departments to monitor criminals involved in money laundering. He recalled that the IOB conducted 47 training programs to train 800 officials last year on the latest developments in the fight against money laundering.
Al-Jasser said that SAMA issued guidelines to all banks operating in the Kingdom on preventing and combating money-laundering operations in 1995.
“For the past 10 years, SAMA has collected information on the methods and techniques adopted in money laundering and accordingly provided the local banks with such information, for the purpose of building a database to be linked automatically with the goal of tracking money-laundering activities.”
The Kingdom has hosted numerous national and international conferences to develop an awareness of this problem.
“The first meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) outside Paris was held at the IOB headquarters in Riyadh in 1994,” Al-Jasser said.
He said the BASEL Committee on Banking Supervision, in cooperation with SAMA, issued a paper pertaining to the principles of compliance and its functions at banks in April 2005.
The paper, he said, was designed to specify the fundamental principles of compliance with regulations, covering a number of areas that included the responsibilities of the board of directors and senior management of banks.
In May 2005, SAMA directed local banks to adopt principles laid out in the paper and incorporate them into existing procedures and programs regarding the risks of noncompliance.