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Jakarta acts to curb terror financing
Publication Date : 13-02-2013
The Indonesian authorities will soon be able to freeze bank accounts and seize assets believed to be linked to terrorism.
Parliament yesterday agreed to boost anti-terror laws by giving its anti-money laundering agency, police and prosecutors the power to shut down these funding sources, after obtaining a court order.
"Starting today, we have fortified anti-terrorism laws. We must not see any more terror attacks in Indonesia," Deputy House Speaker Priyo Budi Santoso said as the Bill was ratified, with the support of all nine political parties.
The move to curb terrorist financing aims to fix a weak spot in the country's ongoing fight against terrorism. Last year, a terror cell discovered in Medan was resorting to Internet fraud to get funds, and plots to attack Parliament were also uncovered by the counter-terrorism agency.
The law comes as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international anti-money laundering and anti-terror finance institution, is set to review Indonesia's standing this year.
In December, Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo explained that not amending the law could see the FATF label Indonesia as a non-cooperative jurisdiction, which could in turn affect financial inflows into the economy.
The new law requires banks, insurance firms and any other financial institutions to report - within three working days - any suspicious transactions, or face a maximum fine of one billion rupiah (US$103,500). Any party that leaks information about the reporting of a suspicious transaction also faces a maximum five-year jail term and a one billion rupiah fine.
Indonesia passed its first anti-terror law in 2003 after the country saw its worst-ever attack on the main tourist island of Bali in October 2002, when suicide bombers struck at two packed nightclubs and killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.
The last key Bali bomb plotter, Umar Patek, was sentenced to 20 years in jail last June, and during his trial, the court heard that Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden gave US$30,000 for terror attacks in Southeast Asia.
After Bali, the country also witnessed several other terror attacks, including the Australian Embassy bombing in Jakarta in September 2004, and the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Hotel bombings in Jakarta in July 2009.
Last year, several policemen were killed in Poso, Central Sulawesi, where a paramilitary training camp was uncovered, in a reminder that remaining militants are still keen to regroup.
In a speech read on his behalf by Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin before MPs approved the law yesterday, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stressed its importance in decisively tackling the terror threat.
"There wouldn't have been any terror attacks, had there been no planning and financing," he said, adding that the strategy to fight terrorism could now focus more on following the money, from just following the suspects.