Islamic State

HM Treasury written question – answered on 9th December 2014.

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Photo of Nicholas Soames Nicholas Soames Conservative, Mid Sussex

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to prevent the laundering of ISIL funds through Hawala brokers and similar informal money transfer systems; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

The UK has a comprehensive anti-money laundering (AML) regime and we are committed to ensuring our financial system is a hostile environment for illicit finances. We play a leading role in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the inter-governmental body that sets global standards on tackling money laundering and terrorist finance. The UK is considered by FATF to have one of the most robust AML and counter financing of terrorism (CFT) regimes.

A Hawala broker may operate as a Money Service Business (MSB) in the UK as long as it meets the requirements for registration with HMRC and FCA and follows the requirements of UK AML legislation. All MSBs are required to have systems in place to mitigate the risks of dealing with high risk customers, including those from high risk jurisdictions. HMRC is the supervisory authority for most MSBs under the Money Laundering Regulations (MLRs). HMRC’s role is to maintain a register of these businesses and ensure they are aware of, and comply with, their requirements by having appropriate risk based AML controls in place. HMRC is taking an increasingly robust approach to supervision of the MSB sector - for example, it committed to double its supervisory interventions in the sector by April 2015. HMRC is also focussing its efforts on raising the sector's understanding of the MLRs through providing updated guidance. Law enforcement, including the National Crime Agency and the UK National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit, actively look at the AML/CFT risks arising from the MSB sector.

Collective global action is necessary to tackle illicit finance including in relation to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the UK has been involved in two recent public statements, one by the FATF in October (http://www.fatf-gafi.org/documents/news/fatf-action-isil.html) and one at an international meeting on Combatting Terrorist Financing in November (http://www.mofa.gov.bh/Default.aspx?tabid=7824&language=en-US&ItemId=4622).

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