September 23, 2005

US Treasury says cast net wider in freezing assets

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Treasury official on Friday
called for more international action in designating groups and
individuals as linked to terrorism and freezing their assets,
saying doing so is key to preventing attacks.

Most countries have taken steps to block assets of people
and groups associated with al Qaeda, said Daniel Glaser,
assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial

But many countries have taken little or no action to block
assets of other terrorist groups, as United Nations resolutions
permit, Glaser said in remarks prepared for delivery to a
seminar at World Bank-International Monetary Fund meetings.

"It is urgent for countries throughout the world to begin
to develop effective administrative mechanisms to provide these
UN resolutions with the bold effect they were meant to have on
terrorist support networks," Glaser said.

He also said countries must adopt and implement effective
anti-money laundering and terrorism counter-financing controls.

That is particularly important for regions, such as the
Middle East, that are viewed by the financial sector as more at
risk for money laundering or terrorist financing activities,
Glaser said.

Those regions must implement internationally accepted
controls to minimize the risk, enhance their reputations and
ensure their access to global financial services, he said.

Glaser also rejected concerns voiced at the seminar that
U.S. regulations place too much of a burden on the private
sector to know not only their customers but their customers'

"There have been a couple of comments today about
identifying customers of customers of customers of customers. I
haven't seen that regulation," Glaser said in response to a
question from the audience.

"What banks need to do is to not only identify their
customers but know their customers and understand their
customers to the extent that they can make a determination to
whether a transaction is suspicious -- not whether a
transaction is drug money laundering or terrorist financing or
tax evasion or financing some other crime," he said.

Government authorities, not the private sector, are
responsible for investigating suspicious transactions, he said.