EU states block putting Saudi Arabia, U.S. territories on dirty-money list

BRUSSELS, March 1 - European Union member states unanimously rejected on Friday a proposal to blacklist Saudi Arabia and four U.S. territories for lax controls on terrorism financing and money laundering, sources told Reuters.

Saudi Arabia, a major importer of EU weapons and goods, had lobbied against being branded a "high-risk" country, as had been proposed by the bloc's executive European Commission.

Representatives of EU states meeting in Brussels on Friday agreed a statement on the matter, which was seen by Reuters and is expected to be formally adopted by justice and home affairs ministers meeting on Thursday.

"We cannot support the current proposal that was not established in a transparent and credible process that incentivizes affected countries to take decisive action while also respecting their right to be heard," the statement said.

The U.S. Treasury Department has also spoken out against the proposal, saying the listing process was "flawed" and rejecting the inclusion of U.S. territories American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam.