US to push terror finance laws in Latin America
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina need
to address security concerns around their common border, and
the United States next week will urge lawmakers there to
advance legislation to combat terrorist financing and money
laundering, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.
Patrick O’Brien, assistant U.S. Treasury secretary for
terrorist financing, said recent elections in Latin America
have produced legislatures that may be more likely to pass
anti-money laundering and terrorist financing laws.
“We’re hopeful that with a new slate of legislators we have
a new opportunity to push some of that through,” said O’Brien,
who will meet with officials in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina
The United States repeatedly has expressed concern about
what is known as the Tri-Border region of Argentina, Paraguay
and Brazil — home to an Arab community that has come under
scrutiny by U.S. authorities that accuse it of money-laundering
and generating funds for militant Islamic groups like Hezbollah
O’Brien said officials in that area have stepped up
cooperation, but the United States remains concerned about the
level of control those governments have there.
“Historically, there’s been some problems with a lack of
governance in the area, illicit activity of various kinds,
fraudulent trade,” he said.
“I think any ungoverned or undergoverned space is an area
of concern,” he said. “In the region, that would be one area
where we have some concerns about the level of oversight.”
O’Brien said anti-money laundering laws vary greatly
throughout Latin America, but noted that Paraguay’s was “in its
He also said the United States wanted governments in the
region to criminalize terrorist financing.
“It’s certainly one of the steps,” O’Brien said.
Another senior Treasury official on Friday said Brazil,
Paraguay and Argentina have taken steps to combat illicit
financing along their shared border area.
“Illicit finance is a concern worldwide, and the strides
taken by these three countries are essential to detecting and
disrupting corruption and increasing security and confidence in
the region,” the senior official told Reuters.
O’Brien said he plans to meet with legislators and
executive branch officials, law enforcement and intelligence
authorities and executives in the private financial sector to
drum up support for anti-money laundering and terrorist