Australia faces ISIS terrorist threat; closes MSB over suspect terrorist financing

By Christine Duhaime | September 17th, 2014

AUSTRAC unregisters MSB

Australia’s financial intelligence unit, AUSTRAC, has suspended the registration and activities of a money services business (MSB) in Australia over questions arising from potential terrorist financing. It is the first time AUSTRAC has suspended a reporting entity.

The MSB, operating under the trade name Bisotel Rieh Pty Ltd., failed to report all of the funds it sent overseas or to inform AUSTRAC who the beneficial owners of the funds were. According to AUSTRAC, the firm sent $18.8 million to Turkey and Tripoli in 8 months of 2014 and it posed a terrorist financing risk, particularly combined with the fact that the firm had admitted that it smuggled cash from Turkey to Tripoli when it could not open a bank account in Lebanon.

The MSB is co-owned by the sister of a person from Sydney who was convicted of a terrorist offence.

Australian police arrests terrorist suspects

At the same time, Australian police carried out a massive raid to flush out homegrown ISIS supporters in Sydney who threatened to publicly behead a random person in Sydney as part of the commencement of the campaign of terror ISIS intends to carry out in the Western world.

Australia allocated an additional $20 million to AUSTRAC and announced a new national intelligence team to address terrorist financing whose mandate would be to:

  • Prevent persons who have left Australia to fight with terrorist groups overseas from receiving financing or material support from Australia;
  • Identify opportunities to disrupt terrorism; and
  • Monitor financial transactions that are associated with, or tied to, foreign conflict hot spots.

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