FATF: Virtual Currencies Could Fuel Terrorism Financing

Grace Caffyn
Oct 21, 2015 at 19:36 UTC
Updated Oct 22, 2015 at 15:43 UTC
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Bitcoin may pose a risk for terrorist financing, according to a new report from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

In a report entitled Emerging Terrorist Financing Risks, released today, the organisation notes that virtual currencies have “attracted the attention of various criminal groups”, including extremist organizations.

However, while their use among terror organisations could grow in the short-term, the scale of the threat they pose is unknown and should be researched further, it says.

“This report presents a number of interesting cases, but the actual prevalence and level of exploitation of these technologies by terrorist groups and their supporters is not clear at this time and remains an ongoing information gap to be explored.”

One of FATF’s primary concerns in this area are foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), who it says make up one of the main forms of “material support” for terrorist groups.

While FTFs are, for the most part, being financed via traditional avenues, the report flags evidence that bitcoin is being discussed as a means to purchase arms and fund “global extremist efforts”.

The full report can be found here.

 

About FATF

Founded in 1989, FATF is an international ‘policy making’ body that sets regulatory standards for tackling money laundering, terrorist financing and other threats to the financial system.

Its 36 members, who make up the majority of the biggest economies in the world, meet three times a year at the FATF Plenary, FATF’s decision making body.

In June it had urged its members to monitor gateways such as bitcoin exchanges to mitigate the threat of money laundering and terrorist financing, having first flagged risks related to the currency during a 2014 report.

Islamic State image via Shutterstock

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