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Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT)

27 September, 2023

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Terrorist financing has been a persistent financial crime for over a decade, wreaking havoc on banks and Financial Institutions (FIs). This is concerning and prompting authorities to crack down on such illicit practices. Several regulations and laws, collectively called Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CTF) policy, have been enacted to counter the illegal practice of terrorist funding. Most FIs must fulfill strict requirements for monitoring behavior and transactions, conducting thorough Customer Due Diligence (CDD), and maintaining proper records.

What is Terrorist Financing?

Terrorist funding is the practice of illicitly transferring funds to support terrorist organizations. This illegal practice usually involves money laundering techniques and is mainly conducted across borders. Numerous studies have highlighted a clear link between organized crime and terrorist funding in the US. These issues are not assessed alone without taking the other into consideration.

How Does Terrorist Financing Work?

With technological advancement, scammers are also becoming sophisticated in committing different types of crimes to fulfill their illicit intentions. 

There are many ways through which funds are raised to support terrorist organizations, such as: 

  • Illicit Activities: Terrorist organizations usually raise funds for their activities through illicit drug trading. The money generated through the drug trade is then laundered, making the funds’ origin difficult to track. 
  • Front Companies: Some terrorist organizations even operate legitimate firms to generate funds for supporting financial crimes such as terrorist financing and money laundering.
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What is CFT Compliance?

Countering the financing of terrorism is legally binding for corporate and financial institutions. Maintaining CFT compliance means identifying and analyzing all the sources possibly used in funding terrorist organizations to fulfill different political,  ideological, or terrorist goals. 

CFT compliance is fulfilled by conducting ongoing monitoring of customer accounts in a bank or financial firm, the transactions they allow, and considering the overall risk level they may pose.  Illegal money trails can be identified effectively by monitoring suspicious activities in real-time, preventing terrorist organizations from exploiting the legitimate financial system.

AML and CFT compliance ensures financial firms comply with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations to prevent criminals from breaching the system and obtaining illegal economic profit. 

Who is Countering the Financing of Terrorism?

There are many institutions and laws that are dedicated to counter terrorist funding activities. For example, one of the main reasons for enacting the USA Patriot Act was to cut off financing to terrorist organizations. Moreover, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was created with the goal of helping combat financial crimes, such as terrorist financing.

The FATF adopted a sophisticated strategy to encourage other nations to strengthen their AML and CFT regulations. It created a list of those states not properly enforcing laws against money laundering, terrorist funding, and other financial crimes. This ‘publicly identifying and criticizing’ tactic motivated different countries to take immediate steps to counter terrorist funding and money laundering.

Now, many financial firms and banks are legally required to screen their business partners and gather sufficient data about them and the accounts they support. This helps businesses ensure that the firm they will do business with is not involved in terrorist financing and money laundering.

Why is CFT Compliance Essential?

Terrorist organizations require funds to continue their illegal activities, such as buying and selling weapons of mass destruction, covering travel expenses for equipment, and executing their attacks properly. The most effective way to counter-terrorism funding and to disrupt support for future crimes is by gathering information from purchases, withdrawals, and other financial transactions through the AML transaction monitoring solution. The robust security solution not only helps keep terrorist organizations away but also helps businesses abide by AML and CFT regulations and avoid heavy fines. Moreover, maintaining CFT compliance fosters trust among partners and builds a positive brand image in the competitive market.

Essential Steps to Prevent Terrorist Financing

Banks and financial firms play a crucial role in preventing money laundering, terrorist funding, and fraud. They must constantly track organizations and gather detailed information about them. This proactive approach helps ensure that entities are not involved in money laundering or terrorist financing, safeguarding the integrity of banks, financial institutions, and other businesses.

Countering the financing of terrorism continues to be an ongoing and crucial endeavor across the globe. The consequences of illicit financial activities are far-reaching, highlighting the significance of preventing crimes such as terrorist financing. By fostering international cooperation, implementing stringent AML and CFT regulations, and relying on secure financial institutions, the global community can work towards eliminating this threat and establishing a safer future for everyone. As individuals and communities, our shared duty is to stand together in the fight against financial crimes to safeguard global peace and stability.

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