June 21, 2019 / 7:14 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Saudi Arabia named full member of anti-illicit funding body

(Adds statement details, context)

RIYADH, June 21 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has been granted full membership of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global body dedicated to fighting illicit money flows, Saudi Arabia’s monetary authority said on Friday.

The kingdom had been previously denied membership after not meeting criteria in anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing, and its accession will likely be a boost to its standing with foreign investors.

“The kingdom’s accession to the group will enhance its role in international forums and will highlight its efforts in the area of ​​combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism,” the authority said in a statement.

The decision was made during a plenary FATF meeting held in Orlando, Florida on Friday, and it marks the first time an Arab country has been granted full membership, the statement said.

The inter-governmental body headquartered in Paris granted Saudi Arabia observer status in 2015, but denied it full entry last year after finding that the kingdom was not effectively prosecuting individuals for large-scale money laundering or confiscating proceeds.

Its earlier denial was a blow for the kingdom as it looks to modernise its economy and improve ties with banks.

Last March European Union member states unanimously blocked a European Commission decision to add Saudi Arabia to a blacklist of countries suspected of being lax on terrorist financing and money laundering. (Reporting by Ali Abdelaty and Stephen Kalin, Writing by Eric Knecht, Editing by William Maclean)

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