Tue, 26 Aug 2003

BI seeks regional cooperation to curb terrorist funding

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Bank Indonesia is working on strengthening cooperation with central bankers in the region to improve its ability to detect the flow of terrorist funds, as part of the drive against terrorism, central bank Governor Burhanuddin Abdullah said on Monday.

Burhanuddin said he had just arrived from Singapore, where he had discussed the issue with his counterpart, and planned to meet with the monetary authorities in Thailand and other countries.

"I just went to Singapore to increase cooperation with the Singaporean monetary authority. I will also meet with Thailand's central bank governor," Burhanuddin said.

He did not elaborate on how this improved cooperation would be achieved, but said there would be meetings to look into technical matters.

Burhanuddin said "a Singaporean envoy will come here, while we will study the antiterrorism measures of other nations".

Whether these efforts prove effective in curbing the flow of terrorist funding remains to be seen, but they do reflect the increasing sense of urgency in the region over the terrorist threat.

Although Indonesia and the other member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to increase cooperation to clamp down on terrorist funding, experts have said that financial controls must be tightened for improved detection.

A powerful blast hit the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta on Aug. 5, killing 12 people. The attack took place less than a year after the Bali bombings killed more than 200 people and severely damaged the country's tourist industry.

Following the Bali bombings, Indonesia joined other Asian and Western nations in pledging to implement a broad range of measures aimed at cutting financing for terrorist groups.

These steps include the establishment of intelligence units to detect suspicious transactions and freeze the assets of suspected terrorists.

For Indonesia, the efforts of the antiterrorism campaign have largely been focused on battling money laundering, including the laundering of terrorist-related funds.

Indonesia enacted a money laundering law last year, but is under intense pressure to amend the law by the end of next month at the latest, or be sanctioned by international financial watchdog the Financial Action Task Force.

Burhanuddin denied his planned meeting with Thailand's central bank governor was aimed at uncovering information on the bank accounts of Hambali, an Indonesian-born suspected terrorist who was recently arrested in Thailand.

"Relating to Hambali, I have not received any report yet," he said.

Hambali is suspected of masterminding the Bali bombings and is believed to be the key person in a series of terrorist attacks in the region.