The 8th meeting of the Council of Heads of Financial Intelligence Units of CIS Member States (CHFIU) was held on 9 November 2016 in New Delhi, India.
India holds an observer status in the CHFIU and it was the first Council meeting hosted by the country. In his welcoming remarks, the head of the Indian FIU, Pankaj Kumar Mishra, highlighted the rising status of the Council, whose practical work, especially in organizing joint AML/CFT operations, was of particular importance.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Commonwealth of Independent States. In his congratulatory message to the meeting participants, CIS Executive Secretary S. Lebedev highlighted the important role of effective counter-terrorist financing efforts in the fight against terrorism.
Cutting off financial support for terrorist organizations was a key theme of the meeting.
The Council is implementing a raft of measures aimed at overcoming the existing threats. At its previous meeting (June 2016, Astana, Kazakhstan), for example, the Council set up a counter-terrorist financing working group, which, in the four months since its establishment, has identified the activity areas posing the highest risk and conducted consultations with the private sector, resulting in the transfer of materials that enable the identification of persons involved in terrorist and extremist activities. The Council's immediate task now is to develop and implement a set of targeted financial sanctions against these persons.
The CHFIU's key focus area remains the operation "Barrier", aimed at identifying terrorist centres and cells whose members are engaged in armed conflicts on the side of ISIS as well as entities doing business with terrorists. As part of these efforts, all Council members are required to monitor transactions linked to high-risk countries whose territory may potentially be used by terrorists or their accomplices. In addition, CIS authorities are implementing a package of measures designed to identify individuals who took part in the fighting in Syria and Iraq.
In 2016, as part of this operation, authorities have established the whereabouts of more than 100 individuals wanted at home and abroad in connection with terrorism and extremism. These persons are currently the target of detention and deportation measures.
All Council member states are working on the task of identifying the means used to provide funding to terrorist organizations, with extra attention to be paid to new payment methods, such as virtual currencies, cloud-based technologies, etc. This topic will be a priority at the next CHFIU meeting.
Another overarching goal is to develop financial profiles of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), allowing law enforcement agencies and representatives of financial institutions and other organizations to identify these individuals in the shortest possible time. The results of this collaboration will be presented at a meeting of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee next month.
In light of the rising terrorist threat, it is important to implement a package of measures aimed at preventing terrorists from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction. All Council members stressed the importance of information sharing in this field and further strengthening of cooperation in combating the existing threats.
On the side-lines of the 25th EAG Plenary week, the Eurasian Group, represented by its chairman Yury Chikhanchin, and the CHFIU, represented by the acting head of Tajikistan's FIU F. Bilolov, signed a protocol on cooperation.
The next CHFIU meeting will be held in May 2017 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.