Posts Tagged ‘hawala’

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Imran Khan says ditch the banks and use hawala

September 9, 2014

The ex-cricket star, political gadfly, and possible future prime minister of Pakistan Imran Khan is commanding his supporters and their families abroad to send money back and forth to each other through hawala, the traditional Islamic system of transferring money, rather than using conventional banks or wire transfer services.

This account comes from Dispatch News Desk on Aug. 23. As the article notes, Pakistan has officially sought to discourage hawala since it has been so often used to finance terrorist attacks, which is what makes Khan’s instructions disturbing.

“Use Hawala Hundi system for transfer of money to Pakistan”, says Imran Khan

The Chairman of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Inasaf (PTI) Imran Khan has directed his followers living outsides Pakistan to stop sending money to their families in Pakistan through banks(remittances)  and directed them to use Hawala Hundi system for transfer of money to Pakistan. He passed these directions while addressing his workers on Saturday night.

Chairman Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) Imran Khan on August 17, 2014 announces Civil Disobedience against sitting government asking his workers and followers not to pay any utility bills and taxes. Now he has directed to stop sending remittances to Pakistan.

Hawala or Hewala also known as hundi, is an informal value transfer system based on the performance and honour of a huge network of money brokers, primarily located in the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and the Indian subcontinent, operating outside of, or parallel to, traditional banking, financial channels, and remittance systems. This is the biggest channel being used by Arab and Afghan terrorists including Al-Qaeda to transfer money and finance their projects, therefore this channel is being discouraged by Pakistan since war on terror.

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Modi cocks gun and takes aim at illicit money

June 1, 2014

Newly elected prime minister Narendra Modi is reportedly putting the finishing touches on a new framework to tackle illicit money in India. While some of the new task force’s work will probably be geared toward ferretting out money allegedly stashed in Swiss bank accounts by political opponents, their objectives will also include the detection of hawala and terrorist financing.

Illicit money has been flowing into India from Kashmir and Pakistan for years under the Congress party’s nose. Modi’s BJP party must act as quickly as possible in order to begin reversing that.

Thanks to Sumon Chakraborty for sending this in from India Today:

Black money: Modi’s task force is almost ready

It could be the first big step from PM-designate Narendra Modi to bring back black money stashed abroad.

Sources in central agencies tell Indiatoday.in that a framework for a new task force to deal with black money has been prepared.

“Under the directions of senior officials of Department of Revenue, this task force has been created. It will be headed by the Financial Intelligence Unit,” said an official, requesting anonymity.

Central agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate, the Income Tax Department and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence are the members of the task force.

The task force will deal with black money derived from corruption, money laundering, hawala, terrorist financing or through off-shoring of wealth via tax havens.

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Recognizing the risks of Somali remittances

March 11, 2014

This piece is also appearing over at Terror Finance Blog today:

Last week, Bell State Bank in North Dakota announced that it would stop doing business with companies that remit money to Somalia.  The move follows decisions by Minnesota banks in 2011 to stop providing Somali remittance services, and an attempt by Barclays last year to cut off its partnership with Dahabshiil, a money transfer company with primary operations in Somalia.  The banks have been challenged in courts on both sides of the Atlantic, and advocacy groups have heavily criticized the banks’ decisions on humanitarian grounds.

Indeed, humanitarian considerations are of the utmost importance.  Unfortunately, money transferred to Somalia, particularly through Dahabshiil, all too often falls into the wrong hands and perpetuates the cycle of violence in Somalia.  Banks should stand fast in their original decisions, and here are five reasons why:

  1. The risks are real.  The frequency of cases involving Somalis in the West transferring funds to al-Shabaab over the last few years presents genuine concerns to financial institutions.  For instance, four men in California were found guilty last year of transferring money to al-Shabaab through Shidaal Express, a Somali hawala business.  Two Somali women in Minnesota were sentenced in 2013 for sending money to al-Shabaab through several remittance channels including local hawala dealers and Dahabshiil.  A Saudi-American was also indicted last year for wiring money to al-Shabaab.  In 2012, a man in London admitting transferring £8,900 to fighters in Somalia.  Danish intelligence revealed in 2012 that the equivalent of thousands of dollars a day is sent to terrorist organizations outside of Denmark—mostly to Somalia, and often unwittingly.  In addition to genuine risks on the ground in Somalia, Western banks have real reasons for concern that if they continue relationships with Dahabshiil, they could subsequently be fined by regulators at a future date if political winds change.  U.S. banks are surely aware, for example, that decisions on whether to fine, settle with, or prosecute banks with lax compliance programs have a great deal to do with the shifting political and prosecutorial priorities of whoever happens to be in charge at the Department of Justice and the financial regulatory agencies.  One official may take a very friendly view toward facilitating Somali remittances this year, but a different person will be calling the shots two years from now.
  2. The risks are not decreasing.  Gone are the days of 2012 when al-Shabaab appeared to be on the ropes in 2012 both financially and militarily.  Al-Shabaab was able to turn around its financial situation after the fall of Kismayo by cutting deals with occupying forces.  Al-Shabaab continues to profit from imposing taxes on commodities such as charcoal and sugar, and their role as ivory trade middlemen between poachers and buyers appears to be growing.  Al-Shabaab is still capable of carrying out devastating strikes such as the Westgate Mall attack and the recent assault against Somalia’s presidential palace that left 11 dead.
  3. Dahabshiil poses a unique risk.  Western readers should be aware of independent reports by the Somali diaspora news media that Dahabshiil finances terrorism.  According to reports by Waagacusub, Kalshaale, and Suna Times, Dahabshiil pays one-half million dollars twice a year to al-Shabaab. The payments allegedly resumed last year after a brief dispute during which Dahabshiil had ceased making payments.  One Guantanamo Bay detainee previously worked for Dahabshiil, and the presiding officer at a hearing for that detainee determined that his Dahabshiil branch transferred money for terrorism.  However, coverage of these allegations has been limited partly due from legal threats against journalists and online reputation management by Dahabshiil. Read the rest of this entry ?
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Illicit transfer news: recommended reading

February 20, 2014
  • Palestinian Islamic Jihad “receives between $100-$150 million dollars annually from Iran,” says an Iranian expert… more>>
  • FinCEN shuts down a Michigan-based hawala dealer who sent 8,000 wires to Yemen and never checked a single customer’s ID… more>>
  • We don’t know how much money is financing terrorism, and we don’t know how much it costs to combat its financing either, so how do we know if what we’re doing is working?  More>>
  • A New Jersey company illegally shipped $70,000 worth of protective gloves to Iranmore>>
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Fourth Somali sentenced in terror cash case

February 9, 2014

Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mohamud, a taxi cab driver in California, has been sentenced to six years in prison for transferring funds overseas to the terrorist group al-Shabaab.  His fellow conspirators–another cabbie, an imam, and a hawala dealer–were sentenced to longer terms previously.

Money Jihad readers will recall that this case illustrates how the Somali remittance industry is fraught with the constant risk of funding al-Shabaab.  U.S. and British banks that have ceased doing business with Somali hawala houses like Shidaal Express, Qaran Financial Express, and wire services companies such as Dahabshiil, are well-justified if not required by anti-money laundering and know-your-customer requirements to sever such ties.  The humanitarian benefits of sending money to Somalia are far outweighed by the high probability that the money will be directed to, diverted by, or extorted for al-Shabaab to buy weapons and carry out operations that ultimately harm more Somalis than such money helps.

U-T San Diego reports (h/t Arun Hindu):

Final sentence in Somali terror case

By Kristina Davis, Jan. 31, 2014

SAN DIEGO — An Anaheim cabdriver who raised funds to aid terrorists in his war-torn homeland of Somalia was sentenced Friday to six years in prison, where he will join three other San Diego Somalis who were sentenced in the scheme two months ago.

Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mohamud, 38, played the most minor role among the four men, said U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller.

Prosecutors say Nasir raised about $1,000 from other cabdrivers in Orange County to send to al-Shabab fighters, who are using violence to try to overthrow the East African country’s transitional government.

The fundraising was coordinated by Basaaly Moalin, a San Diego taxi driver in contact with al-Shabab overseas.

Moalin, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was given 18 years in prison — the longest term — when he was sentenced in November.

Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud, who used his influence on the local Somali community as a City Heights imam, got 13 years. Issa Doreh, who worked at a money transfer business the men used, received 10 years.

The men have already served three years and will be required to serve at least 80 percent of their terms.

Even though Nasir’s role was minor, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Cole said in court that Nasir and Moalin were talking about real people’s lives when it came to what the money would be used for.

“It was a serious offense,” Cole said.

Nasir and Moalin met years earlier in St. Louis, where Nasir had moved to work as a cabdriver, said his lawyer, Thomas Durkin. They then moved to California, where they could make more money…

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Hawala used to launder £20 million in England

January 26, 2014

A British trial has revealed that criminal gangs have been laundering drug money by sending it through hawala and conventional banking channels from England to a hawala dealer overseas to send back to the gangsters in the U.K.

Despite the seriousness of the underlying crime, four of the men involved in the scheme have received light sentences ranging from three years in prison to supervised release with no prison time.  The sentencing is reminiscent of that of New York hawala dealer Faisal Shahzad, who funded the failed Times Square bomber and got off with probation.

Meanwhile, law enforcement and financial regulators continue to make marginal or piecemeal recommendations for how to protect financial markets and the public from the inherent risk of hawala transactions.  One simple idea would be to impose tougher penalties and longer sentences for hawala crimes.

From the Liverpool Echo on Jan. 17 (h/t Arun):

Gang who laundered more than £20m using ancient Islamic system jailed

Two Liverpool men part of four man gang

Two Liverpool men who helped launder more than £20m of drugs money through banks were spared prison.

The money is believed to have been laundered using legitimate bank accounts and an ancient  Islamic money lending system.

Kamran Butt and Instar Ahmed, from Greater Manchester and Liverpool men Steven McKenna and Sean Moore were put under surveillance by police in two undercover operations.

But officers found they were linked when Butt and Ahmed were seen depositing money into  the same bank accounts.

The money was transferred to the defendants, who were recruited by operatives in the Middle East, using the ‘Hawala’ system – an informal Islamic way of lending money based on honour agreements and third-party lenders.

A fifth man, named in court as ‘Akhtar’, was also heavily involved – but was deported to  Pakistan in 2012 and has not been traced since.

Watched by undercover police, Akhtar and Ahmed were seen depositing huge sums of money  at banks in Chorlton, Longsight and Manchester city centre.

The two men would travel to branches of Lloyds, HSBC and Halifax together but then pretend  not to know each other once inside.

Ahmed also worked in partnership with others in the gang.

Manchester Crown Court heard how on Monday, August 22, 2011, police intercepted Ahmed and McKenna and seized three rucksacks stuffed with more than £200,000 in cash.

On another occasion, Moore was seen with Butt in his Mercedes car.

Butt was stopped and a bag was seized, which was found to contain about £120,000 in cash.

His Stretford home was then searched and a further £10,000 was seized.Cash receipts in vehicles traced to the four men showed they were paying in anywhere from £500 to £10,000 a time.All the money is believed to have come from criminal gangs, mainly through drug sales.

The criminal cash was given to a Hawala money lender abroad who then transferred the  money to a Hawala lender in the UK and gave them a password.

This password was then passed onto one of the defendants allowing them to collect the cash.

They then paid the money into bank accounts in Manchester which the criminals had access to.

The court heard the four defendants were the bottom of the chain – below controllers and then  co-ordinators, working as collectors to receive the money, deliver it and pay it into various bank accounts in the UK.

After being caught, all four defendants pleaded guilty – Moore to two charges of money  laundering and Butt, McKenna and Ahmed to one charge of money laundering each.

Butt, of Great Stone Road, Stretford, was believed to be behind £12m in laundered cash, and  was sentenced to three years and six months.

Ahmed, of Kelstern Square, Rusholme, who is believed to have laundered £10m also received  a sentence of three years, six months.

Moore, of Kingfisher Grove, Liverpool, and McKenna, of Maley Street, Liverpool, both received  14 month sentences suspended for 12 months and 12 month supervision orders.

Moore was ordered to carry out 108 hours unpaid work and McKenna 150 hours…

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