Kazakhstan acts against terror financing

By Alexander Bogatik


The Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism confers in Astana July 9. [Eurasian Group photo obtained by Alexander Bogatik]

ASTANA -- Kazakhstan is standing up against terror financing.

Authorities not only want to halt the exodus of hundreds of radicalised citizens to Syria and Iraq. They also seek to end the outflow of funds that buy weapons for militants and pay their salaries.

As part of that effort, the government's Committee on Financial Monitoring (CFM) July 20 published online an updated list of Kazakhstani individuals and organisations whom it accuses of terror financing.

The government compiled the list "in accordance with recommendations from the FATF", the CFM said in a statement.

The FATF is the Financial Action Task Force, an international body that fights terror financing. It was founded in 1989.

The list now has "582 Kazakhstani individuals and 22 organisations", Zhambyl attorney Aidos Otorbekov told Caravanserai.

Those on the list are subject to "freezing of funds and other assets", Otorbekov said. "All transactions and funds sent or received by the people and organisations on this list ... are under special monitoring. If necessary, we freeze them."

The Eurasian Group fights ISIL financing

Kazakhstan recently participated in an international gathering to fight terror financing.

Officials from all nine member states of the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism met June 9-10 in Astana. In a tragic coincidence, this event started on the day of mourning for the eight Aktobe civilians and troops whom terrorists killed in a June 5 attack on two gun stores and a military base.

The Eurasian Group is part of the FATF. Kazakhstan ratified the Eurasian Group member agreement in 2012.

Besides the nine member states (which include all five Central Asian states), 18 international organisations and 15 countries with observer status sent delegations.

"We examined issues related to ISIL ['Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant'] activities," according to a statement by the meeting's organisers. "The organisation calls upon states to strengthen their efforts to combat the financing of this terrorist organisation."

The FATF and the Eurasian Group are concentrating their efforts now on breaking up the financing of ISIL, according to the Kazakhstani government.

However, international financing is only a small part of the puzzle, the CFM warned in a statement. "The main sources of revenue for ISIL are revenue from oil ... robberies of the local population and trafficking of cultural artefacts", the CFM said in the statement.

This year, authorities have identified 30 terrorist cells in the nine Eurasian Group countries, causing law enforcement to take appropriate action, according to evidence presented at the conference.

"Singling out illegal transactions among tens of thousands is very difficult," Taraz IT specialist Ivan Korneyev told Caravanserai.

"We are using instruments to freeze the assets of terrorist organisation members and are developing effective methods for gathering financial intelligence" a source at the CFM told Caravanserai.

Crushing terror financing whenever it occurs

After the terrorist attack in Aktobe, Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev ordered officials to step up the monitoring of financial inflows from abroad.

"The government must submit proposals for establishing oversight of foreign funding for our individuals and organisations," he said during a June 10 session of the National Security Council.

Authorities in the past two months have made some progress in rounding up terror financiers and accomplices.

On July 12, the Aktobe Provincial Court sentenced Janbolat Sarsenbayev to eight years in prison. Earlier this year, he transferred US $500 (176,062 KZT) to militants who were going to Syria to fight alongside ISIL.

On July 20, Aktobe authorities arrested a suspected accomplice of the June 5 attackers. Mirlan Yerdauov faces six years in prison if convicted of renting an apartment for the plotters of that terrorist act. Aktobe police are holding three other individuals who stand accused of knowing about the terrorist plot and failing to report it.

International co-operation

The CFM has been signing agreements with other countries' financial intelligence services throughout the year to combat terror financing together.

Kazakhstani and UK Financial Intelligence Unit officials signed an agreement July 12. Other countries that have reached agreement with Kazakhstan this year include South Korea, Poland, Israel, Georgia, Mongolia, Panama and Bangladesh.

All told, the CFM has signed agreements with 26 countries.

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