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Terrorism Financing Task Force Releases Results of Two-Year Investigation

December 21, 2016 / Source: House Financial Services Committee

Washington, December 20, 2016 -

WASHINGTON – The House Financial Services Committee’s Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing on Tuesday released a bipartisan report of its 12 month long probe into the threat terror financing poses to the U.S. financial system.

“Fighting the financial war against terror demands constant innovation and vigilance.  I want to commend Chairman Fitzpatrick, Ranking Member Lynch, Vice Chairman Pittenger and all members of the Task Force for their leadership and hard work to identify areas where we must upgrade and improve our nation’s ability to starve the terrorists of the financial resources they need to carry out their evil attacks. I look forward to working with Members in the coming Congress to implement their important findings,” said Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).

Task Force Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) added, “For two years, including 11 hearings, our task force investigated the financial mechanisms terrorists use to fund their activities. We discovered highly critical vulnerabilities, namely federal information sharing and inter-agency coordination. The report released today will serve as a guide for the next Congress in crafting legislation to thwart terrorist groups from carrying out their vicious global operations. Combatting terror financing is a significant and often overlooked component of our national security strategy. This report signals to the next Congress and Treasury Department that we must continually evaluate and improve our response toward international terror and criminal financing.”

“Over the past year, the Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing has conducted critically important work to identify solutions to address 21st Century threats.  In conjunction with the legislation we passed this Congress, I look forward to implementing the recommendations found in this report as we continue efforts to defeat radical Islamic terrorism,” said Vice Chair Pittinger (R-NC).

“For the last two years, the Task Force has been examining ways to improve the federal government’s approach to combatting the flow of funds to terrorist groups. This report incorporates essential components of the Task Force’s strategy to address illicit terrorist financing activity, which threatens our national security, financial system, and the international trade system. Thank you to Task Force Chairman Fitzpatrick, Vice Chairman Pittenger, Chairman Hensarling, and Ranking Member Waters for recognizing that putting a stop to terrorist financing is critical to improving our national security. I look forward to continuing to work on a bipartisan basis in the 115th Congress to codify our approach to countering terrorism financing and hopefully augmenting the number of Treasury attachés who are on the front lines of this effort,” said Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Boston).

As a result of the hard work of its 21 members, Task Force leaders introduced several bipartisan bills aimed at addressing some of the threats its investigation identified:

  • H.R. 5594, the “National Strategy for Combatting Terrorists, Underground, and Other Illicit Financing Act.”  Sponsored by Chairman Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and co-sponsored by Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), H.R. 5594 would require the President, acting through the Treasury Secretary, to develop and publish an annual whole-of-government strategy to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. The bill passed the House on July 11, 2016 by voice vote.
  • H.R. 5602, sponsored by Ranking Member Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and co-sponsored by Rep. Peter King (R-NY), requires more detailed information to be reported to the Treasury regarding certain types of transactions in a specific area for a limited amount of time.  H.R. 5602 passed the House on July 11, 2016 by a vote of 356-47.
  • H.R. 5607, the “Enhancing Treasury’s Anti-Terror Tools Act.”  Sponsored by Task Force Vice Chairman Robert Pittinger (R-NC) and co-sponsored by Ranking Member Lynch (D-MA), H.R. 5607 would enhance Treasury’s anti-illicit finance tools by addressing issues that came up repeatedly in Task Force Hearings. The bill passed the House on July 11, 2016 by a vote of 362-45.
  • H.R. 5603, the “Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Act.”  Sponsored by Ranking Member Lynch (D-MA) and co-sponsored by Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA), H.R. 5603 would establish a reward program aimed at helping the U.S. identify, freeze, and, if appropriate, repatriate assets linked to foreign government corruption, which is often an enabler of terrorism.
  • H.R. 5606, the “Anti-Terrorism Information Sharing Is Truth Act.”  Sponsored by Vice Chairman Pittenger (R-NC) and co-sponsored by Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA), H.R. 5606 seeks to refine “safe harbors” for the sharing of anti-terror information, reaffirming Congressional intent in existing statute that encouraging the government to share terror methodologies with banks to help them better recognize such activity.

In addition to the five bills the Task Force produced, the bipartisan report made several recommendations for further Congressional attention, including:

  • Better interagency coordination and resource allocation;
  • Better use of and access to information that can identify illicit finance;
  • Adding more overseas Treasury attachés;
  • Continued attention to helping developing countries fight illicit finance;
  • A greater domestic and international focus on stopping trade-based money laundering;
  • Development of a harmonized regulatory and examination procedure for nonbank financial institutions – primarily money service businesses (MSB) but also emerging value transfer technologies – to squeeze out illicit finance and provide banks the comfort necessary for them to again widely offer MSB retail account services;
  • Development of a whole-of-government strategy to combat terror finance and other forms of financial crimes; Beneficial ownership of corporate entities; and
  • Re-animation of the interagency Terrorist Financing Working Group.

Text of the full report can be found on the Financial Services Committee Website, here.

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