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Terrorism: Finance

Volume 698: debated on Thursday 31 January 2008

My right honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Jane Kennedy) has made the following Written Statement.

In a Written Ministerial Statement of 10 October 2006, the previous Economic Secretary undertook to report to Parliament on a quarterly basis on the operation of the UK's counterterrorism asset-freezing regime. This is the fifth of these reports and covers the period October-December 2007.1

Dedicated Asset-Freezing Unit

In The Financial Challenge to Crime and Terrorism (February 2007), the Treasury announced that it would be setting up a dedicated asset-freezing unit which, acting in response to advice from law enforcement and security agencies, will increase the resources and operational focus that the Government are able to bring to bear on asset-freezing. The Treasury's asset-freezing unit became operational on 24 October 2007.

Asset-freezing designations

In the quarter October-December 2007, the Treasury made six domestic designations under the Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2006.

None of these were persons already designated under earlier orders.

The Terrorism Order and the al-Qaeda and Taliban Order provide, where appropriate, for designations to be made confidentially and with restricted circulation of notice.

No persons were designated on this basis in this quarter.

No persons were designated on the basis of closed source material provided by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

There were no financial sanctions listings at the EU or the UN in relation to terrorism or al-Qaeda and the Taliban of persons with links to the UK.

A total of 288 separate accounts containing approximately £1.4 million2 of suspected terrorist funds are currently frozen in the UK.

Reviews

The Treasury keeps domestic asset-freezing cases under review. A number of formal reviews have been initiated in this quarter and the review of five cases was completed. In four cases a decision was taken to delist the designated person and in one case the designation was continued.

Licensing

In accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1452 (2002), the Treasury operates a licensing system whereby designated persons and others are able to apply to make or receive payments under specific and, if necessary, monitored conditions. In this quarter, the following licences were issued:

11 listed persons were granted legal expenses licences;

17 listed persons were granted basic expenses licences; two of which were for benefits payments; and

no listed persons were granted extraordinary expenses licences.

In addition, the households of four listed persons were granted benefits licences in accordance with the policy set out in the previous Economic Secretary's Statement of 3 July 2006 to Parliament.

1 The 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.

2 This figure represents the balance of the accounts at the time they were frozen and includes approximately $58,000 of suspected terrorist funds frozen in the UK. This has been converted using current exchange rates. Future fluctuations in the exchange rate may impact on the contribution this sum makes to future totals of suspected terrorist funds frozen.