Anti Money Laundering (AML) in Saudi Arabia
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Money laundering in Saudi Arabia is an enduring problem. The country continues to take steps to combat money laundering and has focused on the fight against terrorist financing. Saudi Arabia has implemented many of the provisions of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Forty Plus Nine Recommendations. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront of international efforts in fighting terrorism and combating money laundering activities.
Saudi Arabia is among the first few countries to give special attention to the countering of money laundering by committing to and complying with many rules and international conventions and putting them into practice.
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) exert extensive efforts in the area of financial crime and money laundering. Saudi Arabia realized the seriousness of the problem of combating money laundering at an early stage.
Recently, Saudi Arabia and several member countries of the FATF have decided to intensify their efforts to fight money laundering on three levels – local, regional, and international.
Saudi Arabia established its Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime with the issuance of the Anti-Money Laundering Statute in 2003 and its Implementing Regulations in 2005. These laws provide a statutory basis for criminalizing money laundering and terrorist financing activities. Article 11 of the Law created the Saudi Arabian financial intelligence unit (FIU), which is responsible for receiving and analyzing reports on suspicious transactions.
AML Training in Saudi Arabia
Article ten of Saudi Arabia's Anti-Money Laundering Law of 2003 requires financial institutions to develop AML/CTF training programs that must be reviewed annually for adequacy.
The Economy of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia's economy is petroleum-based; roughly 75% of budget revenues and 90% of export earnings come from the oil industry. The oil industry comprises about 45% of Saudi Arabia's gross domestic product, compared with 40% from the private sector.
In spite of the recent surge in its oil income, Saudi Arabia continues to face serious long-term economic challenges, including high rates of unemployment, one of the world's fastest population growth rates, and the consequent need for increased government spending. Saudi Arabia has faced nearly two decades of heavy budget and trade deficits, the expensive 1990-1991 war with Iraq, and total public debt of around $175 billion. Conversely, Saudi Arabia has extensive foreign assets (around $110 billion) which provide a substantial fiscal cushion.
Banking in Saudi Arabia
Some of the major banks in Saudi Arabia include:
Until the mid-twentieth century, Saudi Arabia had no formal money or banking system. To the degree that money was used, Saudis primarily used coins having a metallic content equal to their value for storing value and limited exchange transactions in urban areas. For centuries, foreign coins had served the local inhabitants' monetary needs. Development of banking was inhibited by the Quranic injunction against interest.
The government issued a silver riyal in 1927 to standardize the monetary units then in circulation. By 1950 the sharp increase in government expenditures, foreign oil company spending, and regulation of newly created private banking institutions necessitated more formal controls and policies.
With United States technical assistance, in 1952, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) was created, designed to serve as the central bank within the confines of Islamic law.
Saudi Arabian Currency
The Currency of Saudi Arabia is Saudi Arabian Riyal (SR). Presently one of the richest countries in the world, the Currency of Saudi Arabia has a global significance. There are bills of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 Riyals. The coins are available in 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 Halala.
Other Key Statistics of Saudi Arabia
Time Zone: AST(UTC+3).
Location: Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, north of Yemen (Geographic coordinates for Saudi Arabia are 25 00 N, 45 00 E.)
Population: 30,770,375 (2014 estimate)
Languages Spoken: Arabic.