Friday, September 30, 2005

Terrorist bank deals 'impossible to spot'.

Correction—The annual European Money Laundering Conference is actually a bash for bankers and regulators, not drug smugglers and mafiosi as previously reported. The Alarmist apologizes for any embarrassment or disappointment this may have caused. Also, we have two passes to next year's event that we won't be using, if anyone's interested.

9/11 Commission member Douglas Greenburg, speaking to this rowdy crowd in a panel discussion Wednesday, said that terrorist financial activity is practically impossible to spot by looking at the paper trails. (Pakistan Daily Times.) This is because terrorism is cheap and the transactions that fund it are basically ordinary transactions that follow normal patterns of activity.

The awkward implication is that the EU has used terrorism as an excuse to enact new regulations that blow away the privacy of the individual account-holder but which are practically useless against terrorists:
The European Union agreed a new package of rules in June against money laundering and terrorist finance, including enhanced identity checks on customers and more demanding rules on identifying the real beneficial owners of accounts.

But there was an awkward pause when a questioner at the Barcelona conference asked if such rules might have helped to prevent the Madrid attacks and the July London suicide bombings.
Hmm. But then, the EU is by no means unique in this regard.


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