CATF Reports Nov. 2, 2016, 1:18pm

This year the annual meeting of delegations from the Arab banks’ anti-money laundering units met in Beirut on October 27. Interviewed by Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), the official state news wire of Kuwait, the head of Kuwait International Bank’s Anti-Money Laundering Unit, Ahmad Ashkenani, emphasized Kuwaiti banks’ continuous efforts to bring their regulations in-line with international standards regarding anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing. While the Kuwaiti National Assembly adopted several laws to ensure compliance, especially Law n.106 in 2013, Ashkenani stressed the need for “continued coordination and cooperation amongst different bodies to keep pace with measures” towards countering terror financing. In fact, when it comes to terror financing, it takes more than sectorial efforts to override Kuwait’s historical negligence in enforcing laws, international sanctions, and trial sentences.

Similar to Qatar’s trajectory, formal efforts to restructure Kuwait’s image from “permissive jurisdiction” for terror finance to active supporter of counterterror financing efforts on the world stage have often proved empty. To mention only a few examples, over the past few years several long jail sentences – even death sentences – issued to individuals charged with terror financing ended up severely reduced or entirely acquitted on appeal. Many U.S. and UN sanctioned Kuwaiti preachers, facilitators, and fundraisers for al-Qaeda and the al-Nusra Front, whose sermons and campaign efforts are easily trackable on the Internet, continue to live with impunity in the country and were never subjected to criminal proceedings. Kuwaiti banks’ commitment to countering terror finance may be only marginally relevant if not supported by political action. Qatar and Kuwait’s lack of “political will and capacity” to implement counterterrorism finance laws lamented last week by Treasury acting Under Secretary Adam Szubin remains a critical factor.

From KUNA:

“Kuwait has been keeping pace with the accredited international standards on combating money laundering and terrorism financing, Kuwaiti banker stressed on Thursday.

Kuwaiti banks have thoroughly abided by all laws and measures needed to counter any activities related to crimes of money laundering and financing terrorist groups, head of Kuwait International Bank's Anti-Money Laundering Unit, Ahmad Ashkenani told KUNA. […]

He stressed that Arab banks are committed to international standards and policies on anti-money laundering and terrorism financing.

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