ABU DHABI Ñ Saudi Arabia has suspended the transfer of Islamic charities's funds outside the country and has approved legislation for an oversight
body on the charities in a move to prevent the financing of Al Qaida and
So far, officials said, Saudi authorities have suspended the relaying of
funds by Islamic charities to institutions outside the kingdom. The ban
affects more than 240 Saudi charities, Middle East Newsline reported.
"This is where the trouble starts as there is no record of the movement
of funds," Motashar Al Murshed, a financial consultant, told the Jedda-based
Arab News. "The thrust of the anti-money laundering legislation is to track
money transfers and prevent their diversion into suspect accounts."
The Saudi Shura Council, which reviews domestic legislation, has
approved the establishment of the new Supreme
Saudi Relief and Charity Foundation. The foundation has been slated to
regulate the raising and spending of funds by
licensed charities in the kingdom.
Hamoud Al Badr, secretary-general of the consultative council, said the
new body would also audit the accounts of charities. Saudi charities have
been the biggest funders of international Islamic groups that operate in
Asia, Europe and the United States.
Saudi officials said the new body marked one of several recommendations
proposed by the United States in an effort to prevent financing
to Al Qaida and related groups. The officials said the kingdom has already
agreed to restrict Saudi fund-raising.
The government has also established a committee to monitor financial
transactions in an effort to prevent funding to Al Qaida. The panel was
established by Interior Minister Prince Nayeff and Finance Minister Ibrahim