Islamic State: Freezing of Assets

Treasury written question – answered on 18th October 2021.

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Photo of Brendan O'Hara Brendan O'Hara Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Inclusive Society), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution), Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many assets of people belonging to the Daesh terror organisation have been frozen in the UK; what is being done with those assets; and what assessment he has made of the potential to repurpose the Daesh's frozen assets for reparations for victims of the Daesh atrocities.

Photo of John Glen John Glen Minister of State (Treasury) (City), The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

There is currently around £85,000 worth of funds frozen in the UK belonging to individuals and organisations associated with ISIL and Al-Qaida. The majority of these individuals and organisations are sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council and appear on its ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions List. As this List concerns individuals and organisations with both ISIL and Al-Qaida affiliation, the UK has not attempted to make this delineation when reporting the value of frozen funds under this sanctions regime in the UK.

An asset freeze does not involve any change in ownership of funds or economic resources, or require funds or economic resources to be seized by the Government or Police. Accordingly, HM Treasury does not hold or own the assets of any sanctioned persons.

Instead, an asset freeze operates by preventing sanctioned persons from accessing either their own funds or receiving funds from others. HM Treasury alerts financial and other relevant institutions when individuals or organisations are sanctioned by the UN or the UK, and those institutions must then freeze the assets they hold. Anybody who contravenes these sanctions risks committing a criminal offence. The result is that the assets of sanctioned individuals and organisations are ‘frozen’.

The United Nations counter-terrorism sanctions regime was created by UN Security Council Resolution 1267 (1999) and first imposed sanctions on the Taliban. It has been amended and extended on numerous occasions, most notably to include Al-Qaida in 2000 (Resolution 1333(2000)), and ISIL (Da’esh) in 2015 (Resolution 2253(2015)), and is now governed by Resolution 2368 (2017). The aim of Resolution 2368 (2017) is to apply financial sanctions in order to prevent terrorists from raising, moving and using funds, and therefore to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts. The UK is required to comply with its obligations pursuant to UN Security Council Resolutions as a matter of international law and therefore to implement all UN sanctions.

Once the conditions for delisting or unfreezing assets set out in UN Security Council Resolution 2368 of 2017 are met, relevant assets would no longer be frozen in the UK.

Financial sanctions legislation does not enable the Government to seize frozen ISIL assets, refuse the release of frozen assets or use ISIL assets frozen in the UK to provide reparations for victims of the Daesh atrocities.

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