Here is the second part of our commentary on Gordon Brown's (long) speech to Chatham House on Tuesday.
Feel free to add your own comments below:
In total here in Britain since September 11th almost 200 accounts have been frozen linked to over 100 organisations with suspected connections to Al Qaeda.
Another misleading statement, given that the vast majority of the money actually frozen over the last 5 years, about £79 million out of just under £80million, over 5 has been returned to the now legitimate Government of Afghanistan.
In 2005 alone our requirements to report suspicious activity saw banks and other businesses report over 2,000 suspicious potential terrorist transactions with 650 leading to detailed investigations resulting in not just the seizure of cash thought to be destined for terrorism in Iraq but the tracking down of individuals wanted for terrorist charges and not just here but overseas.
In addition to denying terror suspects funds, forensic accounting of transaction trails across continents has been vital in identifying threats, uncovering accomplices, piecing together command structures, and ultimately providing evidence for prosecution. Most recently, forensic accounting techniques have tracked an alleged terrorist bomb maker, using multiple identities, multiple bank accounts and third parties and third countries to purchase bomb making equipment and tracked him to and uncovered an overseas bomb factory.
Would that be a terrorist who posed a direct threat whatsoever to the United Kingdom ? Was this "forensic accounting" done by Gordon Brown's team of forensic accountants, or by someone else ?
The background is, of course, a globalisation that now offers the potential for instant communication and transfer of information, but also for its subjugation to criminal purposes.
Whereas once, influence was carried by word of mouth and through books and newspapers, today the internet and 24 hour media allow access to a global audience - with examples of course of young people being radicalised solely by contact with the internet. And we must also confront a growing tide of those seeking to corrupt and exploit this new international marketplace and the freedoms it brings - from drugs, counterfeit goods and people trafficking, to organised crime, fraud and terrorism. And at all points we must meet this new international criminality with new policing security and intelligence measures - and one such area is the international acquisition of finance for supporting terrorism.
"drugs, counterfeit goods and people trafficking, to organised crime, fraud and terrorism" are not new crimes, they have been around for centuries !
And following specific announcements this morning by the Economic Secretary to the House of Commons, I am able to explain today how, as we review our work, the Treasury are developing a comprehensive and increasingly proactive framework that will mean at all times we will be able to act quickly in support of the police and the security authorities in rooting out terrorist finance.
Our aim is simple: just as there be no safe haven for terrorists, so there be no hiding place for those who finance terrorism.
What the use of fingerprints was to the 19th century, and DNA analysis was to the 20th century, so financial information and forensic accounting has come to be one of today's most powerful investigative and intelligence tools available in the fight against crime and terrorism. And Ministers have been examining in detail how we can deploy it in the fight against terrorist extremists.
By putting to work the most modern of forensic accounting techniques and bringing the expertise of the private sector - the accountancy, law and financial sectors - together with the public sector, we can create what some will call a modern 'Bletchley Park' with forensic accounting of such intricacy and sophistication in tracking finance and connections that it can achieve, for our generation, the same results as code breaking at the original Bletchley Park did sixty years ago.
"what some will call a modern 'Bletchley Park'"
The only person who has mentioned "Bletchley Park" in this context is Gordon Brown himself, or his speechwriter, back in his speech in February to the Royal United Services Institute
Are there really the best Nobel Prize winning scientific minds at work on this project, as there were at Bletchley Park ?
And in particular we can address directly three of the most dangerous sources of terrorist finance - the abuse of charities, the abuse of money service businesses and the abuse of financial transactions:
- We know that many charities and donors have been and are being exploited by terrorists. And all allegations of possible abuse are being examined. On August 24th, to take one example, the Charity Commission launched an enquiry into the charity 'Crescent Relief' and froze its bank accounts. But it is important to look at the whole sector so that dubious charities are rooted out and good charities protected from abuse. At the end of the year we will publish a report on our review.
- We are reviewing bureaux de change, cheque cashers and money remitters - legitimate services but also, in instances, known to be open to abuse as a source of terrorist finance. So we will introduce a licensing system, more stringent requirements for firms to keep records, and tougher action against non-compliance.
- And we are consulting now on new proposals against money laundering - a risk-based approach to ensure that legitimate businesses are not penalised, but at the same time a tough approach focusing attention on our new priorities.
- We will also target the financial transactions of terror suspects operating in the UK. In July we announced we would restrict the payment of any benefits made to listed terror suspects and their households to ensure they are not diverted to terrorism. Just in the past few days this policy was upheld by the High Court in a Judicial Review.
What evidence is there that any state benefits paid to the families of terroist suspects who have not been convicted of any crime, as yet, would somehow be used to finance international terrorism, rather than to scape a meagre subsitence living on here in the UK ?
We will go further.
Tomorrow the Privy Council will lay before Parliament a new terrorism order which will give the Treasury the power to stop funds reaching anyone in the UK suspected of planning terror or engagement with terror.
suspected not proven !
When exactly is this going to happen ? Before such suspects are arrested , in which case this would tip off them, and their international conntacts, that they are under investigation.
If there is any actual evidence that money is being used to finance terrorism, then that is already an offence under the Terrorism Act 2000
- section 15 Fund raising
- section 16 Use and possession
- section 17 Funding arrangements
- section 18 Money laundering
All of which carry a penalty of up to 14 years in prison and / or a fine, and forfeiture of the money.
Since money is power, anyone disbursing large amounts for terrorist purposes, is likely to stand accused under section 56 Directing terrorism, "at any level", which carries a penalty of imprisonment for life
Why is even more legislation required, except to Pretend To Be Seen To Be Doing Something ?
And today Ed Balls, the Economic Secretary, has announced that for the first time we will use closed source evidence where it is necessary to take preventative action to freeze assets. This means acting on the basis of classified intelligence.
secret intelligence - obtained by torture or from massibe breaches of the financial privacy of millions of innocent people, such as the ongoing SWIFT scandal ?
Does this mean that Gordon Brown is similarly intending to data mine and snoop on millions of innocent people's confidential financial records, thereby increasing the risk of fraud and insider trading ?But I am mindful that while it is essential to be able to act quickly using all sources of information, the British way is to ensure that Parliamentary accountability must be enhanced as we do so. To create a line of Parliamentary accountability and to ensure and be seen to ensure there is no arbitrariness in what we do, we will put in place a Special Advocate procedure to ensure a fair and consistent hearing of cases
How can any "Special Advocate procedure"
not fall foul of the European Convention on Human Rights Article 6, the Right to a Fair trial in exactly the same way as the "Special Advocate procedure" under immigration laws did, for the Belmarsh detainees ?
The risk of a "fit up" of the innocent, by unknown accusers, using "secret intelligence", which the defendant is not allowed to see or challenge, is exactly the same.
and report to Parliament quarterly on the operation of the system.
Who believes that Gordon Brown or his sidekick Ed Balls would resign, when some "secret intelligence" proved to be faulty ?
Who believes that they will pay financial compensation to people whose assets have been frozen in error ?
And, as terrorist finance operates on a global scale, we know that we are only as strong as our weakest links.
So we will build on the action taken under our Presidencies of the G7 and EU last year. In Singapore we, the G8 and IMF, reaffirmed that the international community will continue to be vigilant.
The new US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and I - and Ministers of both our administrations - have discussed how the UK and US can show the way internationally in a proactive and effective terrorist finance framework.
We will use Britain's Presidency of the Financial Action Task Force next year to promote our proactive approach and to hold to account those countries who are undermining this international effort through insufficient terrorist financing controls. And I have written today to EU Finance Ministers to ask they review all aspects of their frameworks - including cross border cooperation and the introduction of the most modern forensic accounting techniques - to ensure there is never any weak link in Europe's front against terrorist finance.