Terrorist financing discussed in Vienna

Vienna ferris wheel. Photo Sean SmithThe Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Private Sector Consultative Forum in Vienna earlier this week explored measures to combat terrorist financing, writes STEP’s Sean Smith.

The first day focused on the risk of terrorist abuse in Non-Profit Organisations – a sector deemed vulnerable because of the resources they use and their geographical spread.

On the second day, the forum considered existing barriers to information sharing and how these could be eased to enable both the private and public sectors to more effectively communicate data, whilst respecting privacy laws.

The final session looked at correspondent banking and how such correspondent banking relationships are established and monitored.

The underlying themes across all of these discussions were reputation, standardisation and communication. In particular, how to build and maintain confidence in the financial and charitable sectors and agreeing definitions of key terms and principles, such as what constitutes a reasonable request for information (RFI), so that the private sector, governments and civil society can work together more effectively.

A delegate opened one of the sessions with the comment that these issues had been discussed many times over the years to the point where each meeting felt like Groundhog Day. That is hardly surprising as trying to balance the needs of charities and their beneficiaries, the financial sector, governments and citizens’ rights to privacy is anything but straightforward.

Thankfully, this meeting felt productive, with useful suggestions being raised, which sadly I can’t divulge just yet.

It will be interesting to see what comes out of the FATF plenary, scheduled for 19-24 June in Busan, Republic of Korea.


Sean Smith, STEP Policy Manager

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