Black list’ risk for Turkey
ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
AA photoTurkey will land on the “black list” of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in June if it fails to adopt legislation on the prevention of the financing of terrorism, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin warned yesterday during a debate on a long-delayed draft law at Parliament’s Justice Commission.
“As a country fighting terrorism itself, it is unacceptable for Turkey to be in such a position internationally,” Ergin said, indicating that Turkey is currently on FAFT’s “grey-black list.”
The FATF President will visit Turkey on May 22 to discuss the issue with Ergin and Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.
The Justice Commission was scheduled to resume debate on the draft today. It had previously sent the draft to a sub-commission, where it underwent changes. A controversial provision that would have empowered an “examination commission” to freeze the assets of suspected terrorism financiers without a court ruling was amended. Under the current text, the “examination commission” will ask Cabinet to freeze such assets if there is a “reasonable cause.”
Under the draft, the examination commission would be composed of seven senior bureaucrats from the Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK), the Prime Minister’s Office, the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), the ministries of Justice, Interior and Foreign Affairs, as well as the Treasury.
The provision is criticized on the grounds that it would allow for the freezing of assets without a court ruling. The draft also envisages heavy penalties and fines. It calls for jail sentences of up to 10 years to those funding terrorist organizations or terrorists, even if the money is not directly used for a terrorist crime.
Ergin said yesterday that Turkey was criticized by the United Nations for lacking any extra-judicial mechanism to prevent terrorism financing, adding that the U.S., France, Germany and Russia had such mechanisms. “The prevention of the financing of terrorism is indispensible in the fight against terrorism,” he said.
The U.S. has long pressured Turkey to adopt the bill, but progress has been slow. Turkey received another strong request from the FAFT in February to pass the legislation.
Opposition lawmakers argued the bill would only serve the interests of foreign countries and would not help Turkey in blocking the financial channels of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) abroad.
The CHP’s Ali İhsan Köktürk voiced misgivings that the government could use the bill as a means to bully opponents. “[Jailed lawmaker] Mehmet Haberal is accused of being a terrorist. Will his assets be frozen?” he asked.
Justice Minister Ergin responded that such worries were baseless. The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has also raised concern that the law could be used to target Kurdish business people and the municipalities it holds in the southeast.