KSA, US boost efforts to combat terror funding
JEDDAH – Saudi Arabia and the US discussed ways to further enhance their existing cooperation on efforts to disrupt the financial and support networks of terrorist organizations, announced Minister of Finance Ibrahim Al-Assaf at a joint press conference with US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew here on Tuesday.
Assaf said that he discussed a wide range of issues with Secretary Lew which included joint economic efforts, issues related to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank as well as the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), a law under which foreign banks and investment houses are asked to provide information to US authorities on accounts held by US citizens and firms abroad.
Lew said that Saudi Arabia is one of the most important partners of the US in combating terrorist financing.
“We discussed how we can further enhance our cooperation in fighting illicit financing, not just to groups operating in Iraq but also to groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan and transnational groups such as Hezbollah,” he said.
“I had the opportunity to reinforce our commitment to working together to fight these threats and to highlight the strong cooperation we enjoy with the Saudi Ministry of Interior and the ministry’s financial investigation unit in the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) in achieving our mutual goals,” Lew said.
The Kingdom has been at the forefront of confronting terrorist financing and money laundering by enacting and updating legislation.
Earlier this year, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah approved a law to combat terrorism and its financing.
Yet recognizing the growing threat of terrorist financing which tries to bypass the legal banking network, Secretary Lew asserted that terrorist financing cannot take advantage of the hawala or any other informal banking system. “We need to be vigilant that we are dealing with the targets at the moment and targets in the future,” he said.
The visiting dignitary also expressed concern over the developments in Iraq and said that the Saudi-US cooperation was even more important against this backdrop.
“Our close cooperation is more important given our shared concern about developments in Iraq,” he said, adding, “We discussed the need for coordinated efforts and an effective approach in Iraq and redoubling our efforts to confront financing to terrorist organizations.”
“We recognize the benefit of working together to meet the challenges of supporting the macro-economic activities in countries in transition. We also recognize the progress Saudi Arabia has made in providing economic assistance to countries in transition, especially to Egypt and Yemen,” Lew said.
Earlier this year, the Kingdom announced up to $4 billion in additional aid to Egypt in the form of central bank deposits and petroleum products. Saudi Arabia has given $3.25 billion in aid that it pledged to Yemen in 2012.