Posts Tagged ‘U.K.’

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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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UK: 3 more arrests in front charity terror case

May 15, 2014

Three more middlemen in the financial pipeline from Britain to Syrian terrorists have been arrested in an ongoing investigation. Four charities, which likely include Aid Convoy (an Islamist front charity), have been cited in the probe, and a total of 12 men have been detained for their involvement.

News reports are referring to this terrorist financing case as “fraud,” although no evidence has yet been made public that anybody has been defrauded. It is possible that the donors, the leadership of the charities involved, and their beneficiaries in Syria all knew that the money was intended to fund violent activities against Bashar al-Assad and his supporters.

The website ThirdSector has a few more details on the latest arrests here: “Three more arrested for alleged charity fraud with links to terrorism in Syria.”

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Charity watchdog: Islamism poses deadlier threat

May 2, 2014

U.K.’s top charity regulator says that Muslim extremism poses the deadliest threat to the British nonprofit sector.  Although it has taken Charity Commission chief William Shawcross two years to come to that conclusion, it’s better late than never.  Shawcross is focused on the threat and the unknowns associated with the transfer of funds from Islamic charities in Great Britain to Syria and other conflict zones where al-Qaeda groups are ascendant.  He’d be well-served by keeping his eye on the home front too.

The Charity Commission has a poor record of enforcement against front charities that funnel money to terrorist groups.  A 2013 audit revealed that the Charity Commission is understaffed, passive, and unfit for duty.

From the BBC on Apr. 19:

Charity Commission warns of Islamic extremism threat

Chairman William Shawcross warned that while the issue is not currently widespread, it is growing.

Mr Shawcross told the Sunday Times the regulator is taking action against charities sending money to various groups in Syria.

He has asked the prime minister for measures to stop those with terrorism convictions from setting up charities.

Currently, those convicted of money laundering or terrorism are not automatically barred from doing so, or from becoming a trustee.

Mr Shawcross said: “It is ludicrous that people with convictions for terrorist offences are not automatically disqualified from serving as charity trustees.”

The regulator is currently investigating a number of charities raising funds for causes in Syria.

Mr Shawcross advised that agencies had to be vigilant.

“I’m sure that in places like Syria and Somalia it is very, very difficult for charities always to know what the end use of their aid is, but they’ve got to be particularly vigilant,” he said.

“The problem of Islamist extremism and charities… is not the most widespread problem we face in terms of abuse of charities, but is potentially the most deadly.

“And it is, alas, growing”…

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British Hamas donors active now in Syria

April 15, 2014

Three Islamic charities based in the U.K. who have funded projects administered by a Hamas “charitable” have also become involved with a radical Syrian aid convoy, according to a new report. The UK Charity Commission is proving itself, as usual, to be asleep at the switch with respect to such charities that are exploiting Britain as a financial base to fund jihad around the world.

Special thanks to Ayre for sending in this report from Stand for Peace:

Three UK charities fund Hamas charitable front

Three UK charities involved with Syrian ‘aid convoy’ efforts – Children in Deen, the Abu Faisal Trust and One Nation – are funding projects in Gaza run by the Al-Falah Benevolent Society (a.k.a. Al-Falah Society or Al-Falah Charitable Society). The Al-Falah Society is  one of “Hamas’s charitable societies”, according to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

The OPEC Fund for International Development notes that it is funded by “institutions in the Arab, Islamic and international world who believe in the right of the Palestinian people to liberate their land”. It is run by Ramadan Tamboura (aka Ramadan Tanbura), who Ha’aretz newspaper reports is “a well-known Hamas figure”.

One Nation is part of the Aid for Syria convoy, which, as Stand for Peace has previously uncovered, is involved with a number of key extremist preachers in the UK. Aid for Syria convoys include trucks named after the convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui…

Read the rest at Stand for Peace here.

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Front charity news: recommended reading

March 27, 2014
  • The Shakhsiyah Foundation receives £70,000 a year in taxpayer money even though Prime Minister Cameron called it a front charity for extremism… more>>
  • Two would-be jihadists from North Carolina intended to use charity as a cover story for their mission overseas… more>>
  • The Turkish “charity” IHH funds and supports Hamas, but has yet to be designated as a terrorist organization by the Obama administration… more>>
  • İMKANDER, another Turkish charity, has taken to the streets in a massive rally to eulogize Doku Umarov, the terror chief of the Islamic Caucasus Emirate (h/t Ayre)… more>>
  • A Dutch money launderer has signed his own death warrant by stealing $35,000 from a Hamas front charity… more>>

 

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Illicit transfer news: recommended reading

March 13, 2014
  • Eight have been arrested in raids over zakat raised in Britain to fund terrorism in Syria… more>>
  • Is a millionaire bitcoin trader copping a plea over money laundering allegations?  More>>
  • By sea, land, and air—Iran’s history of busted arms smuggling operations is exposed… more>>
  • Speaking of Iranian weapons trafficking, Iraq has been a helpful facilitator to their neighbor lately… more>>
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Terror funding news: recommended reading

March 6, 2014

Thanks to Gisele, Sal, El Grillo and all those who sent in tips.

  • Turkey has become a principal financial hub for terrorists under the leadership of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” writes Adam Kredo… more>>
  • Cultural property like art and antiquities are susceptible to exploitation in money laundering and terror finance schemes, but federal law doesn’t quite make the connection. Rick St. Hilaire explains… more>>
  • British sanctions target Pakistani jihad financiers and millionaire terrorist Dawood Ibrahimmore>>
  • Ten thousand dollars in farm subsidies have gone to a terror funding co-conspirator that grows no crops… more>>
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