“Cryptocurrencies could supply weapons to organized crime, jihadist networks and white supremacist circles”

Nathalie Goulet, in Paris, April 29, 2020.

UDI Senator from Orne, Nathalie Goulet has just published a Terrorism Financing Primer (Le Cherche Midi, 434 pages, 19.50 euros), a very comprehensive book with many examples on a fairly technical and little-known subject.

Knowing that the November 13 attack cost 82,000 euros, that of July 14 in Nice the rental of a truck, and that against Samuel Paty nothing at all, is the fight against the financing of terrorism relevant?

There is real porosity between the circuits of major financial crime and those of terrorist financing. Fighting one is also fighting the other. You can’t give up, even if it’s difficult, even if terrorism uses everyday objects.

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How do we deal with low cost terrorism?

First of all, I would like to point out that state financing of terrorism has greatly decreased and today only concerns two or three countries, such as North Korea. Saudi Arabia, for example, has completely ended its past practices. This is the effect of the policies put in place after 9/11, but also due to the fact that the kingdom has been targeted by terrorists.

Low-cost terrorism goes a lot through online pots, as we saw in the attack in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray [le 26 juillet 2016, le père Jacques Hamel était assassiné dans son église par deux jeunes terroristes djihadistes] ; anti-fraud systems have been extended to them. For 1,000 people who fundraise online to offer a gift or celebrate a birthday, there will be one or two who will use this circuit for the purpose of delinquent activities. Moreover, Imam Iquioussen [dont le ministre de l’intérieur demande l’expulsion] collected in this way for Mauritanian networks. These local microfinances are now subject to declaration thanks to a text that we voted a little forceps. Tracfin, which is what we do best in France in financial intelligence, can now investigate these pots.

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We talk a lot about cryptocurrency. Is this a fantasy or a serious risk in the financing of terrorism?

Cryptocurrency is a means of pure opacity both of the bearer of a currency and of its expenditure. We will have to work on it to reduce the dangers of this parallel economy. This is all the more dangerous since several half-failing states have adopted cryptocurrencies. This is the case of Ukraine. When we know the situation of this country, its propensity for arms trafficking and corruption, we can legitimately worry. This could fuel organized crime with weapons, as well as jihadist networks or even white supremacist circles, which should not be forgotten. We saw this type of situation in the Balkans during the 1990s.

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