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Counter-Terrorist Asset-Freezing Regime

Volume 514: debated on Monday 26 July 2010

The Government take the threat of terrorism seriously. However, measures taken to counter the threat of terrorist activity must be done in a fair and proportionate way.

The previous Government undertook to report to Parliament on a quarterly basis on the operation of the UK’s counter-terrorism asset-freezing regime. We believe this is essential to ensure transparency and accountability of the regime and we will continue to report to Parliament each quarter. There is a clause to this effect in the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc Bill.

This report covers the period April to June 20101

Asset-freezing designations

In the quarter April to June 2010, the Treasury gave no new directions under the Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2009.

During this quarter, the EU added five people to EC Regulation 881/2002, implementing the UN al-Qaeda and Taliban asset-freezing regime established under UNSCR 1267.

As of 30 June 2010, a total of 202 accounts containing just under £360,0002 of suspected terrorist funds were frozen in the UK.

Reviews under the Terrorism Orders

The Treasury keeps domestic asset-freezing cases under review and completed nine reviews in this quarter. From these nine reviews, six persons had their designations revoked.

Licensing

Maintaining an effective licensing system is important to ensure the overall proportionality and fairness of the asset-freezing regime, whether the individuals concerned are subject to an asset-freeze in accordance with a UN or EC listing, or domestic terrorism legislation. A licensing framework is put in place for each individual on a case-by-case basis. The key objective of the licensing system is to strike an appropriate balance between minimising the risk of diversion of funds to terrorism and meeting the human rights and humanitarian needs of affected individuals and their families. Licences contain certain appropriate controls to protect against the risk of the diversion of funds for terrorist finance.

Thirteen licences were issued this quarter in relation to eight persons subject to an asset-freeze under the al-Qaeda and Taliban and domestic terrorism regimes.

In addition, five general licences were issued. General licences cover both the al-Qaeda and domestic terrorism regimes, and are important in ensuring an effective and proportionate licensing regime by removing the need for individual licence applications in specific areas. These general licences are accessible on the Treasury’s website:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/fin_sanctions_general_licences.htm

Proceedings

The previous Government committed to reporting on proceedings taken for any offences under the asset-freezing regime. We agree that it is important to continue to report on proceedings for accountability and transparency, and we will therefore continue to do so.

In the quarter April to June 2010, no proceedings were taken for breaches of the prohibitions of the Terrorism Orders or the Al-Qaida and Taliban (Asset-Freezing) Regulations.

Developments

The Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc Bill: The Government have introduced and published new terrorist asset-freezing legislation. This was reported in the previous written ministerial statement that I laid on 15 July 2010, Official Report, column 36WS.

1The detail that can be provided to the House on a quarterly basis is subject to the need to avoid the identification, directly or indirectly, of personal or operationally sensitive information.

2This figure reflects account balances at time of freezing and includes approximately $58,000 of suspected terrorist funds frozen in the UK. This has been converted using exchange rates as of 21/07/10. Future fluctuations in the exchange rate may impact on the contribution this sum makes to future totals of suspected terrorist funds frozen.