By Walid Ramzi
Algeria is implementing new legal measures to tighten the noose around terror funding. To compare its national laws with those of other countries, Algerian lawyers and security officials met with foreign counterparts on Monday (March 5th) for a two-day seminar on money laundering.
Algeria is “determined to confront terrorism”, presidential advisor Kamel Rezzag-Bara said. He underlined the importance of co-ordination between all specialised judiciary authorities and security agencies to stave off the threat.
“A terrorist car bomb attack that targeted the headquarters of national gendarmerie headquarters in Tamanrasset, in which 23 people were wounded, proves that terrorism is still fierce and active,” Rezzag-Bara added at the event, organised by the Algerian justice ministry and the Financial Intelligence Processing Cell (CTRF).
The terrorist groups’ use of modern means and new technologies in getting money prompts Algeria to enhance its technical and human capabilities.
Michael Mullaney, Chief of the Counterterrorism Section in the US Justice Department, presented methods of investigation and prosecution in terrorist financing cases in the US.
In his turn, David Hanley, a detective inspector in the counterterrorism unit in the British police, reviewed his country’s experiences in discovering terrorist financing cases and prosecuting people involved. He presented specific cases for freezing assets linked to individuals and groups belonging to terrorist organisations and groups.
For his part, CTRF chief Abdenour Hibouche said that authorities were currently investigating two files related to financial operations via banks, which may be related to terror financing. Hibouche, however, did not elaborate on the identity of these banking operations.
The CTRF, created in 2002 under an executive decree, now enjoys more powers, he said. Under a law issued in February, the structure of the cell was changed from a public institution into an independent administrative authority. The CTRF receives alerts of suspicious activity from financial and non-financial institutions, conducts inquiries based on these notifications and, in case they are verified, refers the files to prosecutor.
The new legal measures aim to harmonise Algerian legislation with new technologies that criminals use to penetrate banking systems, Hibouche explained. The law grants powers to judges to freeze or seize money owned by terrorist groups. It raises fines and expands the scope of criminalisation to include breaches of professional secrets regarding notifications of suspicions.
Hibouche added that his agency had received 1,900 alerts in 2011, a drop from 3,200 in 2010. Of them, 300 were sent by the Bank of Algeria.
The development of money laundering methods requires the advancement of the judicial and legal system in combating this phenomenon, according to Mohamed Emara Mohamed, general manager of judicial and legal affairs in the justice ministry.