EU to boost border checks to tackle ‘ter­ror­ism fi­nanc­ing’

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion pro­posed tight­en­ing con­trols on cash and pre­cious me­tals trans­fers from out­side the EU yes­ter­day, in a bid to shut down one route for fund­ing of mil­i­tant at­tacks on the con­ti­nent. The move fol­lows Mon­day’s at­tack on a Christ­mas market in Ber­lin, where 12 peo­ple were killed as a truck ploughed into a crowd. It is part of an EU “ac­tion plan against ter­ror­ist fi­nanc­ing” un­veiled af­ter the bomb­ings and shoot­ings in Paris in Novem­ber 2015.

Un­der the new pro­pos­als, cus­toms of­fi­cials in Euro­pean Union states will be able to step up checks on cash and pre­paid pay­ment cards trans­ferred via the post or through freight ship­ments. Author­i­ties will also be given the power to seize cash or pre­cious me­tals car­ried by sus­pect in­di­vid­u­als en­ter­ing the EU.

Peo­ple car­ry­ing more than 10,000 eu­ros ($10,391.00) in cash are al­ready re­quired to de­clare this at cus­toms upon en­ter­ing the EU. The new rules would al­low author­i­ties to seize money even be­low that thresh­old “where there are sus­pi­cions of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity,” the EU ex­ec­u­tive com­mis­sion said in a note. “With to­day’s pro­pos­als, we strengthen our le­gal means to dis­rupt and cut off the fi­nan­cial sources of ter­ror­ists and crim­i­nals,” the com­mis­sion vice-pres­i­dent Frans Tim­mer­mans said.

EU of­fi­cials said some of the re­cent at­tacks in Europe were car­ried out with lim­ited funds, some­times sent from out­side the EU by crim­i­nal net­works. The Com­mis­sion is also propos­ing com­mon rules for the 28 EU coun­tries on freez­ing “ter­ror­ists’ fi­nan­cial re­sources” and on con­fis­cat­ing as­sets even from those thought to be con­nected to crim­i­nals.

To pre­vent the laun­der­ing of il­le­gal funds, Brus­sels also wants EU states to abide by min­i­mum com­mon rules on money laun­der­ing with the aim of block­ing crim­i­nals from ex­ploit­ing le­gal dif­fer­ences be­tween dif­fer­ent EU coun­tries. Se­cu­rity forces across the bloc would also be able to ex­change in­for­ma­tion more ef­fec­tively on crim­i­nals un­der a new planned re­view of the Euro­pean sys­tem for shar­ing in­for­ma­tion. The pro­pos­als will need ap­proval from EU states and the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment to be­come law. The plan com­ple­ments pro­pos­als made by the Com­mis­sion af­ter the Novem­ber Paris at­tacks to tighten con­trols on vir­tual cur­ren­cies, such as bit­coin, and pre­paid cards, which the French author­i­ties said were used to fund the bomb­ings.

Af­ter months of talks, EU states on Tues­day backed these pro­pos­als. Un­der the deal, which still needs the ap­proval of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, hold­ers of pre­paid cards would have to show some form of iden­tity when they make pay­ments of 150 eu­ros or more. —

AFP

BER­LIN: The Bran­den­burg Gate is seen in the col­ors of the Ger­man flag in Ber­lin on De­cem­ber 20, 2016 one day af­ter a truck crashed into a Christ­mas market. —

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