Israel touts ‘advanced legal structure’ to fight terror

Experts from 30 countries convene for meeting on financing of terrorism, money laundering.

Police drill guns raid cops 311 (photo credit: Israel Police)
Police drill guns raid cops 311
(photo credit: Israel Police)
Senior Justice Ministry officials praised Israel’s progress on Monday in developing legal structures and law enforcement methods for combating terror financing and money laundering.
Speaking at the opening session of the 10th Experts Meeting on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Typologies, Finance Ministry General- Director Guy Rothkopf said Israel has developed “advanced ways to combat terror financing and money laundering,” both in terms of legislation and law enforcement techniques.
These include the freezing and confiscation of assets of those convicted of money laundering offenses, Rothkopf said.
This is the first time Israel is hosting the international meeting, which is held under the auspices of MONEYVAL, the Council of Europe’s expert committee on evaluating anti-money laundering and terror funding methods. Israel joined MONEYVAL as an active observer in 2006.
MONEYVAL members from 30 countries and national authorities are attending the meeting in Tel Aviv, and will examine specific strategies to confront and combat terror financing and money laundering, according to Moneyval’s executive-secretary, John Ringguth.
These include the impact of legal instruments available to state prosecutors and of closures and confiscations of criminal proceeds and assets.
The International Monetary Fund noted recently that both money laundering and terror financing activities exploit financial vulnerabilities to undermine the integrity of financial institutions and states.
During Monday’s conference session, Ringguth warned that the diverse tactics of those financing terror pose legal and practical challenges for governments.
“Those financing terror are creative, and national authorities need to keep one step ahead of them,” said Ringguth.
According to Ringguth, the global financial crisis has created new challenges for combating terror financing, as one of the major ways in which criminals launder funds – trade-based money laundering in cash-intensive economies – has intensified.
Paul Landes, head of the Israel Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority, part of the Justice Ministry, said Israel has made advances in recent years in ways to combat money laundering and terror funding, and has cooperated with its international counterparts including on a project to combat money laundering via Internet gambling.
Israel also has considerable expertise in the NGO sector, Landes said.
Terror financing, which relies heavily on legal funding sources, often uses funds raised by nonprofit groups and NGOS, including charities.
Landes told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that the Counter-terrorism Bill, which the Justice Ministry’s Department of Legislative Consulting has worked on for the past five years, would also help Israel combat terror financing.
The bill passed its first reading in the Knesset in August and is waiting to be debated in the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee before going forward for its second and third readings in Knesset, Landes said.
Landes also noted that the Counter-terrorism Bill includes new mechanisms to designate organizations as terror groups.
In 2008 and 2009, Israel designated 85 groups as terrorist organizations, according to Article 2 of the Prohibition of Terror Financing Law, and in line with the designation of these groups by the UN Security Council and the US government.