Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’

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Turkey guts cash screening at customs

May 18, 2015

Turkey has revised its customs regulations to the point where one Turkish headline described it as “Unlimited cash entry into Turkey now legalized.” Turkey said the regulations are an improvement compared to the old policy, but experts contacted by Al-Monitor said there was nothing wrong with the previous regulations.

What’s so problematic about this development is that Turkey has been used as a key transit point for money and fighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. And that was when there were at least some nominal controls at customs points. Now it appears to be open season.

The other rotten element of this story is that Turkey appears to have waited to change these regulations until just after they came off of the international financial watchdog FATF’s grey list. It’s as though they knew they couldn’t get de-listed with regulations like these, so the bided their time.

Read all about it (h/t @moscow_ghost):

No questions asked about Turkey’s suitcases full of cash

Author Pinar Tremblay Posted May 14, 2015

The Turkish Ministry of Customs and Trade issued new regulations April 15 for entering and leaving Turkey with any amount of cash. The new Customs Code had passed without much public attention until early May, when the news broke with the headlines “Hot money days are over, now starts the black money days” and “Unlimited cash entry into Turkey now legalized.”

Umut Oran, deputy of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), submitted a parliamentarian query asking why the previous Customs Code was replaced with the new code, which would enable suspicious financial transactions, thus increasing the risk for money laundering, terror financing and tax evasion.

In a rather foggy statement, Minister of Customs and Trade Nurettin Canikli said the previous code was unclear, adding there were contradictory clauses in the code, and customs personnel could not be flexible. He said they had only simplified the code. “We had many complaints from exporters bringing money into the country,” Canikli said. “It could be from various countries, such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, the Balkans, where there are no banking services. Frankly, why does it matter if the money comes in cash or through a bank as long as it is money earned from exports? If this is dirty money, it will not be allowed to enter the country. There are no changes with regard to unrecorded cash.”

Yet, all pundits whom Al-Monitor contacted — bankers, customs officials, economists, senior economy editors of reputable news networks — agreed that the vagueness was introduced with the new code, and none were able to see what was wrong with the old code.

The previous Customs Code, which was six pages, was seen as compatible with EU regulations. When questioned about the compatibility of the 2015 codes with the EU, Canikli said, “We are not a member of the EU, we are Turkey.”

Indeed, there is sufficient reason to worry about the 2015 Customs Code, which is two pages shorter than the 2013 version. Yet, with those two deleted pages are red flags. Turkey has been on the gray list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) since 2011. The FATF took Turkey off its list of high-risk and non-cooperative jurisdictions only in October 2014. Turkey came to the brink of suspension of its membership in the FATF in October 2012. In its latest report, the FATF was still concerned with Turkey’s ability to institute a system that would identify and freeze terrorist assets. The report warned about Turkey’s definitions for “terrorism financing” and stated that Turkey’s procedures for freezing the assets of identified groups were too slow.

Emin Capa, CNN Turk’s senior economy editor, told Al-Monitor, “Turkey worked real hard to get off the gray list of the FATF. I doubt the government would enact any legislation that would reverse the decision.” Yet Capa had serious concerns about the new code. “There are three troubling topics. First, the sentence ‘passenger cannot be compelled to make a declaration at customs.’ What does this mean?” he asked. This line was added to the updated 2015 Customs Code, while many other items were excised. This line is indeed contradictory with the inspection regime…

 

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Suggested reading: You can’t afford to play dumb

April 2, 2015
  • The financial crime chief at Istanbul P.D. says Erdogan sheltered an Al Qaeda financier… more>>
  • Pizza businessman Kamran Malik pleads guilty to shipping rifles and rifle parts to Pakistan without a license… more>>
  • Before a U.S. company acquires a foreign business, it should follow this helpful pre-acquisition due diligence checklist… more>>
  • If a country is always in the news along with phrases like “dragged through the street” or “human shield” you might want to do some screening before taking on business partners there… more>>
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ISIS oil smuggling routes visualized

March 10, 2015

It’s not easy to depict the movement of terrorists’ money on maps. But the folks at Geopolitical Atlas have taken a good stab at it with respect to black market oil routes operated by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Their map illustrates how ISIS territory, Syrian and Iraqi oil fields, ISIS-controlled highways, and porous borders with neighboring sympathizers overlap:

Islamic State money pipelines

Hat tip to @skinroller for sending this over.

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ISIS profits from 20% tax on smuggled loot

March 9, 2015

Why 20 percent? The Koran 8:42 says that “when ye have taken any booty, a fifth part belongeth to God and to the Apostle…” This one-fifth tax, or khums, on booty or the spoils of war has been a common revenue-raising measure employed by caliphs, sultans, and Muslim military commanders since the eighth century.

BBC’s “File on 4” aired a report on Feb. 17 examining the extent to which ISIS controls the market in smuggling antiquities out of eastern Syria, especially around the ISIS stronghold in Raqqa, for follow-on sales through middlemen in Turkey and elsewhere to wealthy European and Gulf buyers. The BBC’s Simon Cox spoke from Lebanon with “Ahmed,” one Syrian dealer working in Turkey who described ISIS’s 20 percent cut on the archaeological black market.  Listen to this three minute clip of their conversation (please allow several seconds after clicking the arrow for the audio to play):

Hat tip to Alan for sending this over.

Prior Money Jihad coverage of ISIS’s reliance on khums is here, here, here, and here.

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Terror finance clues: suggested news reading

February 5, 2015
  • The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria pays local guides to trick journalists into being kidnapped… more>>
  • Turkish intelligence has been caught smuggling guns across the Syrian border to Al Qaeda… more>>
  • Why ISIS needs Saudi money to take the business of terror to a higher level… more>>
  • Former Senator Bob Graham tells an audience, “Al-Qaeda was a creature of Saudi Arabia; the regional groups such as al-Shabaab have been largely creatures of Saudi Arabia; and now, ISIS is the latest creature!” More>>
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10 biggest terror finance news stories of 2014

December 30, 2014
  1. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria rebounded from a weaker financial position to amass $3 billion in annual income after taking over Fallujah in January and Mosul in June. Its diversified portfolio makes ISIS the world’s best funded terror group. Western allies are trying to cut off ISIS’s money, but admit that the best case scenario is that ISIS will run out of cash on its own.
  2. Treasury undersecretary David Cohen announced in March that “Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas,” and that it is financing terrorists in Syria. These comments were followed up by former MI6 spy chief Richard Dearlove’s statement in July that “substantial and sustained funding” for ISIS comes from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. At least 5 but probably dozens more prominent Qataris are involved in the financial pipeline to Al Qaeda affiliates.
  3. The 4,500 rockets fired by Hamas toward Israel from July to August were financed and supplied by Iran and Qatar, further calling into question the wisdom of Iranian nuclear negotiations and periodic U.S. communications through Qatari diplomats for outreach to the Taliban.
  4. A ban from Israel and a designation as a terrorist entity by the U.A.E. made 2014 an annus horribilus for Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW). The world’s largest Islamic charity was also tarnished by revelations that its German subsidiary has worked with a Hamas-connected charity in Syria and that IRW’s U.S. subsidiary, IR-USA, was documented to have given $118,000 to terror-linked groups.
  5. Turkey’s role in financing terrorism spilled out into public view after paying $800 million to ISIS for oil. Turkey’s 2014 corruption scandal also revealed the extent of their involvement in Iranian sanctions evasion. Turkish president Erdogan’s support for Al Qaeda financier Yasin al-Qadi led his removal from U.S. terror blacklists.
  6. Arab Bank was found liable in Linde v. Arab Bank, PLC in September for funding 24 terrorist attacks by Hamas. The case sets a powerful legal precedent for victims’ families to seek justice against Middle Eastern banks involved in financing terror.
  7. A bill to declassify 28 pages of a Congressional report into 9/11 gained 20 new co-sponsors in 2014. The redactions deal with money given by Saudi officials and agents to the hijackers.
  8. Sharia banker and Islamist militant financier Mir Quasem Ali was sentenced to death by a war crimes tribunal in November for 8 torture sessions he oversaw against Bangladeshis in 1971. Ali’s involvement highlighted the intersection between Saudi money, violent Islamist groups, and sharia-compliant banking.
  9. Boko Haram kidnapped 200 girls in April, possibly for financial reasons, as suggested by Boko Haram’s demands for a ransom from the Nigerian government and from the girls’ families. Other motives include sex and household work and the prospect of money and prisoner swaps.
  10. An outspoken singer and fierce critic of terror finance, Saado Ali Warsame, was slain in Somalia in July. Warsame previously called upon fellow Somalis to refrain from using the remittance company Dahabshiil because of the firm’s role in funding terrorism. Warsame alleged before her death that the company offered a contract for her assassination.

Newer Money Jihad readers may also want to look back at our biggest stories of 2013, 2012, and 2011 to see how the threats are evolving over time.

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Terrorist money news: recommended reading

December 4, 2014
  • A lawsuit by 11 terror victims’ families against the Palestinian Authority—not against Hamas, Hezbollah, nor PIJ—will begin in January… more>>
  • Beware that money exchanged with Turkish individuals, companies, and government agencies could end up in Hamas‘s hands… more>>
  • Despite aerial bombardment, ISIS grosses €4.5 million daily… more>>
  • Obama administration bows to Turkish diplomatic pressure, removes Al Qaeda financier from blacklist… more>>
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