Terrorist financing targeted

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 November, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 November, 2001, 12:00am

The world's financial watchdogs gather in Wellington, New Zealand, today to agree an eight-point checklist aimed at combatting terrorist financing.

The meeting comes two days after the International Monetary Fund, meeting in Ottawa, Canada, urged its 183 member countries to adopt immediate measures to combat terrorist financing.

Heading the special two-day meeting of the Paris-based 29-country Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is Hong Kong Commissioner for Narcotics Clarie Lo Ku Ka-lee. Hong Kong holds the presidency of the FATF this year.

Speaking before her departure for Wellington, Ms Lo said: 'We are going to ratify guidelines to help combat the financing of terrorism . . . It is an annual meeting to study the trends and types of money-laundering activity, but this year we are going to exam terrorist financing in particular.'

A framework already tentatively agreed by the FATF - and one which Ms Lo hopes non-FATF members will agree to 'buy into' - sets out eight measures the organisation believes will help to detect and prevent terrorism financing.

Heading the list are undertakings to ratify all applicable United Nations conventions and resolutions and to pass the necessary laws to criminalise terrorist financing under money-laundering statutes.

The Philippines barely met a deadline to pass its anti-money laundering law by the end of September, having been singled out by the FATF as a delinquent.

The FATF, established after a Group of Seven summit meeting in 1989 to examine and recommend anti-money laundering standards, also singled out Russia and the Pacific Island of Nauru as countries with deficient legal systems, threatening economic sanctions if the three did not pass the necessary statutes.

All three met the deadline, though Nauru was given a grace period to revise its new law further.

Also likely to be agreed at the Wellington meeting is an undertaking to implement measures to allow the freezing of assets of terrorists and those who finance terrorism, under existing United Nations resolutions.

'We will also agree a timetable for implementing the recommendations,' said Ms Lo. 'By the end of this year, all FATF members will be required to complete a self-assessment questionnaire designed to identify the level of compliance against the eight recommendations.

'We hope we can encourage non-FATF members to do this self-evaluation as well, so that by the end of the year we will roughly understand the compliance level of both member and non-member jurisdictions.'

Ms Lo said she was writing to all United Nations' ambassadors, finance ministers and central banks to appeal to them to adhere to the eight recommendations, as well as the anti-money laundering guidelines administered by the task force.