EU blacklists Nigeria, other countries for money laundering, terror financing

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The European Commission has added Nigeria to a blacklist of countries it says poses threat because of their lax control on terrorism financing and money laundering.

Also added to the blacklist are Saudi Arabia and Panama, amongst others to push the list from 16 jurisdictions to 23.

An EU executive, while speaking with Reuters, said the EU added jurisdictions with “strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing regimes.”

Other new comers to the list are Libya, Botswana, Ghana, Samoa, the Bahamas and the four United States territories of American Samoa, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam.

The other listed countries are Afghanistan, North Korea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Yemen.

Just as new jurisdictions were added, Bosnia, Guyana, Laos, Uganda and Vanuatu were removed.

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The move is said to be part of a crackdown on money laundering after several scandals at EU banks but has been criticised by several EU countries, including Britain.

They are said to be worried about their economic relations with the listed countries, especially Saudi Arabia, while Panama has demanded that it be removed from the list because it recently adopted stronger rules against money laundering.

Apart from damaging the reputation of the jurisdictions listed, inclusion on the list complicates financial relations with the EU. The bloc’s banks will have to carry out additional checks on payments involving entities from listed jurisdictions.

The 28 EU member states have one month, which can be extended to two, to endorse the list. They could reject it by qualified majority.

The EU Justice Commissioner, Vera Jourova, who proposed the list, was quoted as saying at a news conference that she was confident states would not block it.

She said it was urgent to act because “risks spread like wildfire in the banking sector.”

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