Posts Tagged ‘banking’

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The money behind the jihad: suggested reading

December 18, 2014
  • During Operation Protective Edge, Israel Defense Forces seized kalashnikovs, electroshock weapons, uzis, and RPG’s among other goodies smuggled through tunnels by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihadmore>>
  • The Union of Arab Banks is concerned that U.S. courts will allow even more cases to be brought against them for facilitating terrorism… more>>
  • A human rights lawyer decries the Salafi business cartels that have taken over Somalia… more>>
  • Congressman wants answers on whether CENTCOM attempted to make a payment for the release of Bowe Bergdahl from its $5 million fund … more>>
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Lawsuit: sanctions evasion helped kill U.S. troops

November 30, 2014

Many of the attacks during the Iraq insurgency that left over 4,000 American troops dead were carried out by Sunni militants funded by and aligned with Al Qaeda, former members of Saddam Hussein’s regime, the Gulf monarchies, or combinations of all three. But a new lawsuit by veterans and the families of our war dead is pointing out that a lot of the killing of coalition forces also came from Shia terrorists trained and funded by Iran. Iran was able to fund the trainers of those terrorists partly because of Iran’s access at the time to the international financial system as allowed by major banks with branches in the U.S. despite the sanctions against Iran throughout the 2000s.

From Reuters earlier this month (h/t El Grillo):

U.S. veterans sue banks, claim they should pay for Iraq attacks

Wounded U.S. veterans and family members of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq sued five European banks on Monday, seeking to hold them responsible for shootings and roadside bombings because they allegedly processed Iranian money that paid for the attacks.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York, named Barclays Plc, Credit Suisse Group AG, HSBC Holdings Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Standard Chartered.

Barclays, Credit Suisse, RBS and Standard Chartered declined to comment. HSBC did not respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit was brought under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, a 1992 law that permits victims to bring private suits against alleged financiers of militant operations.

The lawsuit alleges the banks conspired with Iranian banks to mask wire transactions in order to evade U.S. sanctions. The Iranian banks then funneled more than $100 million to militant groups that operated in Iraq at Iran’s direction, according to the suit.

The militant groups included a Shi’ite militia in Iraq, Kataib Hezbollah, as well as Quds Force, the overseas arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the suit says.

Since 2009, the five banks have agreed to pay about $3.2 billion to the U.S. government to resolve allegations that they handled money in violation of sanctions against nations such as Iran, Libya and Cuba. All the banks signed deferred prosecution agreements with the U.S. Justice Department in addition to settlements with U.S. banking regulators…

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Financial war on terror: recommended reading

August 21, 2014
  • Time for a good old-fashioned asset freeze, arms embargo, and international travel ban against 6 ISIS terrorists… more>>
  • The beltway chatter is that the U.S. can’t do much to stop the financing of ISIS because it makes millions locally, which is harder to interdict that international funds transfers. Newsmax disagrees… more>>
  • ISIS may be behind high-profile cyber-hacks against Tony Blair, P-Diddy, and banks in order to finance their terror in Iraq… more>>
  • A British mosque will host a fundraiser with a speaker from the radical Hizb ut-Tahrirmore>>
  • U.S. taxpayer dollars fund UNRWA, a UN agency in the Palestinian territories staffed by a Hamas-run labor union whose members’ salaries are siphoned by Hamas as union dues… more>>
  • The German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that the main civilian airport is Iran has been transformed into a “hub of terror” for arms shipments by the IRGC to Hezbollah… more>>
  • The feds will force 21,550 banks to mine more data on 8 million accounts a year. The American Bankers Association asks, “Once you have that information, what do you do with it?” more>>
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HSBC closes accounts: 2 Islamic nonprofits and 1 mosque

August 12, 2014

HSBC has closed the accounts of the Islamic charity Ummah Welfare Trust (UWT), the Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, and an Islamic advocacy group called the Cordoba Foundation. The closures are part of the British bank’s effort to improve compliance with U.S. and British regulations and after being heavily criticized and fined in 2012 for being too lax about the customers and correspondent banks it chose to do business with.

UWT’s accounts were closed by Barclays in 2009. A student group has reported that UWT has conducted projects together with the Al-Salah Islamic Association, a Hamas front. The Finsbury Park Mosque was formerly pastored by hate preacher and jihadist Abu Hamza. The Cordoba Foundation advocates for Palestinian causes, invited a guest to speak from the radical group Hizb-ut-Tahrir, and is run by a member of Britain’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Alex Brummer, city editor of the Daily Mail, offers this insightful analysis of HSBC’s move:

The notion that HSBC is closing down the bank accounts of Muslim groups and charities because of some kind of Islamophobia could not be more wide of the mark.

Britain’s biggest and most international bank is engaged in a determined effort to clean up its reputation and preserve its banking licenses in the United States after settling charges of money laundering and sanctions busting brought by the US Justice Department.

A coruscating 2012 report by the powerful Senate sub-Committee on Investigations found that HSBC had exposed the US ‘financial system to a wide array of money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorist financing risks due to poor anti-laundering controls’.

The bank subsequently agreed to pay £1.12billion ($1.9billion) in fines to settle the claims and was given a five year probationary period to clean up its act.

Under the chairmanship of the redoubtable Scotsman Douglas Flint, who has been in charge of HSBC since 2010, it has rigorously sought to eliminate the risks of further money laundering charges that might put in danger its American banking licenses.

It has ruthlessly closed down branches, cancelled relationships with overseas banks and shut down the accounts of customers that might conceivably be regarded as risky because of links to money laundering, sanctions busting or potential terrorist activities.

In the troubled Middle East alone, it has doubled the number of compliance officers—internal enforcers—to 3,500 over the two years since it reached a settlement with the American authorities…

Improving the bank’s standards has been hugely expensive, with the global cost of the internal enforcement operation climbing to £296million ($500 million) a year…

Among the relationships that HSBC has severed, as it has gone about its task, is that with the Vatican Bank, recently renamed the Institute for the Works of Religion, because of its past association with money laundering. Such a move involving a prominent Roman Catholic institution strongly suggests Muslim causes and accounts have not been singled out as HSBC seeks to rebuild its reputation in Washington…

If HSBC could be accused of anything it is of being over-cautious in its dealings with the authorities and its elimination of potentially risky clients.

Thanks to Rushette for sending in the news.

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Financial mischief: recommended reading

September 26, 2013
  • “We should bleed America economically,” says Zawahiri…  more>>
  • It was a lot of fun laundering $1.4 million for terrorist guerrillas, until he got caughtmore>>
  • The Muslim Brotherhood created international sharia-compliant finance, and still controls it… under Saudi supervision.  More>>
  • If Muhammad Atta II waltzed into SunTrust today, would he qualify for a bank account?  More>>
  • Uzi Shaya could prove to be a crucial witness in the terror finance trial against the Bank of China—if Israel lets him testify… more>>
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Financial data mining yields no gold nuggets

September 19, 2013

Financial privacy is becoming a fading memory of the past due to aggressive regulations by Western governments that require bankers to serve as snitches against their own customers for transactions that may or may not be criminal in nature. These regulations are costly for the banks to comply with (costs which are ultimately passed on to customers), and they carry a price for citizens’ privacy as well.

All that might be forgiven if the invasive policies actually result in stopping terrorists, their financial transactions, or their operations.  But according to new research being conducted in the European Union, the results of such programs are “meager and sometimes debatable.” The government holds the data while you’re left holding the bag.

A tip of the hat to Andrew S. Bowen for sending this over:

Terrorism financing barely traceable using data analysis

28 August 2013

Doctoral research by Mara Wesseling has shown that the data analyses being performed as part of the European fight against terrorism financing are of little use for preventing terrorism. Wesseling will receive her doctorate from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) on 3 September.

Immediately following the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, the European Union created the EU Action Plan for Combating Terrorism, which included action against terrorism financing as a ‘core component’. Politicians, policymakers and legal experts stress the importance of combating terrorism financing, as they see money as a crucial element in the propagation of terrorism. Specific programmes have been set up to address the problem.

‘My research shows that it cannot yet be demonstrated whether these programmes have had much success with regard to tracking down suspected terrorists or preventing terrorist attacks. In light of the meagre and sometimes debatable results of both programmes, the question arises whether the social and political changes instituted as part of the data-analysis-driven fight against terrorism are (still) desirable or justified,’ Wesseling says.

Terrorist Finance Tracking Program

In her research, Wesseling analysed the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP – better known as the SWIFT programme in the wake of the ‘SWIFT affair’) and the Third European AML/CFT directive. These two programmes constitute the most significant initiatives in the European fight against the financing of terrorism.

It has been shown that risk analyses carried out by banks as part of the Third European AML/CFT directive have revealed virtually no patterns that point to terrorism financing. Wesseling goes on to say that the preventive power of the TFTP to detect terrorist networks at an early stage is also limited…

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Pakistan scrambles to get off FATF’s gray list

September 16, 2013

The world’s leading financial standards body, FATF, alerted the international community earlier this summer that Pakistan and 11 other countries have failed to make sufficient progress in preventing money laundering and terrorist financing.

The newspaper Pakistan Today notes that if Pakistan fails in “coming up with proper and combating the financing of terrorism and anti-money laundering legislations the country may face severe financial sanctions that may affect its financial deals with the World bank, the Asian Development Bank and other top financial institutions” (h/t Zia Ur Rehman).  Pakistan should make reforms prior to FATF’s next meeting in October to avoid such sanctions.

Not so coincidentally, Pakistan’s central bank has rolled out a new requirement for Pakistani financial institutions to adopt nationwide software by Sept. 30 that will facilitate the filing of suspicious activity reports by bank employees.  When a certain customer or transaction is regarded as suspicious, the financial institutions would use this software to report their observations back to the central bank.

Anybody familiar with new software deployments, even under the best circumstances in well-developed high-tech nations, will recognize that this is an overly ambitious timetable to for implementation.  Widespread training and adoption of the software is unlikely to be complete by FATF’s deadline, but the stated goal may be enough to persuade FATF that Pakistan is moving in the right direction.

Pakistan has been cited before by the Financial Action Task Force for its financial regulatory deficiencies.  Despite the history of shortcomings, Western nations have continued to saturate Pakistan with foreign aid.  Without adequate money laundering an CFT controls in place, there is a high risk of any such military and development aid being abused by malicious actors without fear of detection or prosecution.

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