Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Terrorist Financing

I read a news clipping from the AFR (can't get the full article) which cautioned people from buying fake handbags. Why? Apparently, the proceeds are being used to finance terrorism.

This floored me. Firstly, does anybody actually know the title of the Act that deals with offences relating to terrorist finance? I really want to examine this issue in more detail, this is hugely interesting. As I understand it, it is an offence to finance terrorism, even if unknowingly, if you have been reckless as to whether your money is being used for such a purpose.

So, buying chemicals for your friend Mr. Bombmaker is clearly a criminal act. Dropping $20 on the street, which is used for this purpose, is clearly not. On this continuum, there is a grey area in the middle, which for non-lawyers, basically says you can be held accountable for acts you undertake without really being considerate of the possible ramifications.

Murder is a classic example. One can be guilty of intentional or reckless murder. My favourite reckless murder case is the guy who drove his semi-trailer into a crowded pub to kill his ex-girlfriend. He killed someone else instead. Clearly, this is intending to commit a criminal act, and being reckless as to the consequences of that act. Usually, you have to intend the consequences for the person who suffers them. Recklessness allows the law to attach the requisite mental element to people who, as in my example, kill the wrong person.

However, terrorist financing, as I understand, does not require the normal 'mental element' of criminal behaviour. So, as long as you fail to make proper inquiries as to the use of your money, you are liable to be prosecuted. If I give money to a local charity without really finding out what my money is being used for, should I be liable in criminal law as recklessly financing terrorism?

Personally, I don't think so, but I think that is how the law stands. However, I can't understand how this applies to pirated goods. Surely, we are not expected to make reasonable efforts to discover where our money is going. Regardless of the pirated nature of the goods, if somebody wants to use the proceeds of their commerce for illegal purposes, whether terrorism, drug financing, money laundering, whatever, should the consumer really be responsible? If the answer is yes, our entire trading system will fall in a heap. I won't go to the milk bar in case the person behind the counter has a cousin who is a nutter who wants to blow things up.

Or is it just one of these laws, like sedition or incitement of racial hatred, which is only going to be used against Craaaazy Muslims, rather than us whities like Alan Jones, who under the letter of the law, are clearly guilty of an offence? It seems like the law is used when it suits, rather than in an even and balanced way.


Blogger Dash Brannigan said...

Perhaps you best look this up good and proper for your pro bono friend.

7:17 pm  
Blogger Not my real name said...

Nah, I am pretty sure it is all good. The key was not doing anything with the money and going straight to the police. If he took the money out - bad. If he sent the money on - badder. But simply having it turn up is no big deal.

I haven't heard from him, but my bet is that the police laughed at him and froze his account. There is almost nothing else they can do.

A friend at the ANZ said that money is laundered this way via stolen credit cards. So, when your card is stolen on holiday, the people who steal it already have people like my client on their 'payroll' for just this purpose.

It is funny, is it not, that the money came a day after he was 'employed'? They obviously were ready to roll. So, money goes from stolen credit card to the mule with the legit bank account, to the nasty Bulgarian people/drug smuggler/general crook.

8:40 pm  
Blogger Dash Brannigan said...

They also used something similar to this to launder columbian drug money using ex-pats living in the States.

There is a resons why they call it organised crime. These aren't the local louts running smash and grabs these guys basically do it for not only a living but a fortune.

See the thing is with breed of nasty people they are actaully really rational economic agents. Like I said, not the local louts.

You know what they say if you can't be good, be bad but good at it.

9:43 pm  

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