APEC continued to strengthen its members’ capacities to fight terrorism when policy makers, financial experts and industry representatives came together to train in new ways to protect businesses and professions from terrorism financing.
The four-day training workshop on 11-14 November 2013 in Manila, Philippines, was conducted under the auspices of the Counter Terrorism Working Group, one of the fora responsible for addressing APEC’s human security agenda.
As the Philippines tightens regulation of its financial system, terrorism financiers may look to channel funds through other less regulated domestic sectors in the region, such as the so-called designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs) which are not classed as financial institutions.
DNFBPs include real estate agents, lawyers and accountants, notaries, trust and company service providers, casinos and dealers in precious metals and stones. They can be potentially vulnerable to abuse by terrorists and money launderers because of their traditional lack of exposure to financial regulation.
The workshop highlighted ways to mitigate risks and develop guidelines associated with anti-money laundering and corruption, and counter-terrorism financing in the DNFBP sector in the Philippines.
"The Philippines is determined to cut off terrorists from their financing options,” said Atty. Julia C. Bacay-Abad, Executive Director of the Philippines Anti-Money Laundering Council Secretariat.
“With stronger vigilance in the financial sector, terrorists may think they can turn to DNFBPs to facilitate their laundering of criminal proceeds,” explained Bacay-Abad. “New laws in the Philippines aim to cut terrorists off from utilising DNFBPs to finance terrorism.”
In 2012, the Philippine Government enacted a counter-terrorism financing law giving it new powers to cut off lines of terrorist financing, including by freezing bank accounts and seizing assets. Under the legislation, DNFBPs are obliged to report suspicious transactions to the Anti-Money Laundering Council which can investigate possible money laundering or terrorist financing.
In a further step forward in March this year, these laws were further strengthened to include jewellers and company service providers like lawyers and accountants.
“This work to protect businesses and professions against the risk of being used to channel funds for terrorist-related activities continues to be an important aspect of our fight against terrorism”, said APEC’s Counter-Terrorism Working Group Chair, Mr Harry Purwanto.
The Australian-led workshop followed earlier workshops to develop effective mechanisms to counter terrorism financing through DNFBPs that were held in Jakarta and Singapore in May 2013 and November 2012 respectively.