Friday, 3 April 2009

Combating AML and terrorist financing

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is reported to have announced a "donor-supported fund" that will provide $31 million over the next five years in the fight against anti-money laundering (AML) and terrorist financing. Fund donors include the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, Luxembourg, France, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Japan.

The fund will commence operations in May and is geared towards providing "technical expertise" to those countries that want to strengthen their national AML and counter-terrorist financing strategies. Currently, at least in countries such as the UK and the US, a lot of the onus for detecting money laundering and terrorist financing falls on banks, however, not all funds are laundered through banks. The diamond trade is also a conduit for laundering.

The figures speak for themselves in terms of how successful governments have been in seizing terrorist funds. Since 2001 in the UK there were £400,000 worth of cash seized under the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act, £475,000 seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act, and £477,000 frozen by HM Treasury.

One of the challenges for banks is that some of them have been unwittingly caught out by US terror financing legislation for transferring money to organisations in Palestine, for example, that the US recognises as terrorist organisations, but which other countries don't necessarily.

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