My honourable friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Ian Pearson) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
In a Written Ministerial Statement on 10 October 2006, the then 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 ninth of these reports and covers the period October to December 2008.1
In the quarter October to December 2008, the Treasury made one domestic designation under the Al-Qaida and Taliban (United Nations Measures) Order 2006.
There were three financial sanctions listings at the UN, and none at the EU, in relation to terrorism, or al-Qaeda and the Taliban, of persons with links to the UK.
As of 31 December 2008, a total of 253 separate accounts containing just over £632,5002 of suspected terrorist funds were frozen in the UK.
The Treasury keeps domestic asset-freezing cases under review. Ten formal reviews have been completed in this quarter; five persons or entities were de-listed, with the remaining five continuing to be listed.
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 to listed persons:
nine listed persons were granted legal expenses licences;
15 listed persons were granted a basic expenses (including licences for benefits payments); and
one listed person was granted a licence for extraordinary expenses.
In this quarter no household of listed persons was granted benefits licences.
Judgment on the Treasury's appeal against the High Court ruling in the case of A, K, M, Q & G v HM Treasury, in which the judge ordered that the relevant legislation be quashed, was handed down by the Court of Appeal on 30 October 2008. The Court of Appeal overturned the High Court's decision. The Court of Appeal upheld the terrorism order (although it severed that part of the order that it concluded was ultra vires) and the al-Qaeda and Taliban order, confirming that the Government acted lawfully in making these orders. This judgment ensures that the UK is able to maintain an effective terrorist asset-freezing regime in accordance with our UN obligations.
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 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 31.12.08. Future fluctuations in the exchange rate may impact on the contribution this sum makes to future totals of suspected terrorist funds frozen.