Thu, 28 Aug 2003

Cooperation vital to curb terrorist fund

Fitri Wulandari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government should push for cooperation with anti-money laundering agencies abroad to trace the flow of terrorist funds in a bid to help fight against global terrorism, an official said.

Yunus Husein, the chairman of the Financial Transaction and Report Analysis Center (PPATK), said cooperation with other anti- money laundering institutions would enable the government to request data from foreign counterparts so as to help track down terrorist suspects.

"The cooperation allows the sharing of information between two or more parties. We can ask them to investigate any suspicious transactions, whether involving money or property," Yunus told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

"For example, the AMLO database is connected online with every institution in Thailand. They even receive reports from the public," Yunus said.

The PPATK, Yunus said, has already entered into agreements with Thailand's Anti Money Laundering Office (AMLO) and Malaysia's Financial Intelligence Unit for the sharing of information.

"But the government has yet to use these arrangements (to track down the flow of terrorist funds)," he said.

Earlier this week, Bank Indonesia Governor Burhanuddin Abdullah said that the central bank was talking with its Singapore counterpart to sound out a mechanism for curbing the flow of terrorist funds.

Burhanuddin said that similar discussions were planned with the Thai authorities.

The PPATK is the agency tasked with receiving and analyzing reports on suspicious financial transactions as part of the global fight against money laundering.

The global anti-money laundering watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), has listed Indonesia as among the uncooperative countries and territories (NCCTs) in the fight against money laundering.

The FATF has put strong pressure on the government to revise the country's new law on money laundering to comply with international standards. The pressure mounted following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S.

The watchdog gave Indonesia until late September to finish the amendment of the Law or risk severe financial and economic sanctions.

Sanctions against NCCTs range from the imposition of premium charges on transactions with foreign companies, halting correspondence between Indonesian banks with their counterparts in FATF countries, and rejecting Indonesian Letters of Credit.

Yunus said the amendment of the money laundering law was set for deliberation during the current session of the House of Representatives.

Analysts have said that rampant corruption and weak law enforcement have made Indonesia a safe haven for international criminals.

box: List (as of Aug. 8, 2003) of non-cooperative countries and territories:

1. Cook Islands 6. Nauru 2. Egypt 7. Nigeria 3. Guatemala 8. Philippines 4. Indonesia 9. Ukraine 5. Myanmar