…Though terrorist financiers may lose their bank accounts after being blacklisted by Treasury, “in many cases, they are still able to maintain and establish new social media accounts, often on the same social media platforms they used for their terrorist activities,” according to the report, by The Camstoll Group, a Los Angeles financial-intelligence firm.
The report, which is expected to be made public Monday, details cases of alleged financiers of terrorism who hold accounts on U.S.-based social-media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The cases raise questions about Treasury’s ability to enforce its terror blacklist in the face of rapidly changing technologies.
“If they’re designated as financiers of terrorism, why should they be allowed to stay open on social media?” asked Matthew Epstein, Camstoll’s chief executive.
…In a statement, the law firm claims it “never knowingly allowed the use of our companies by individuals having any relationship with North Korea, Zimbabwe, Syria and other countries that have been listed as sanctioned.”
Benjamin Schmidt, the managing director of the Camstoll Group, a sanctions and illicit-finance risk-advisory firm, said part of the problem with names on a sanctions list is they appear to exist in isolation.
“The leaked records out of Panama serve as a reminder that sanctioned actors are often supported by global networks and front companies,” Schmidt wrote in an email. “Banks, multinational companies, and NGOs need more information than simply names on a sanctions list to be sure they aren’t dealing with an entire web of bad actors.”
…“Violent groups operating in war zones and their supporters abroad are exploiting advancements in communications and financial services technologies to more efficiently increase popular support and raise funds for their cause,” said Howard Mendelsohn, a former deputy assistant Treasury secretary and now the managing director of Camstoll Group, an advisory firm in Washington.
According to their own online appeals, the organizations have directed that donations be made via state-owned or state-controlled banks in Russia, including the country’s largest, Sberbank, or credit cards issued by those banks, some branded with MasterCard and Visa logos. Mr. Putin’s government, which strictly regulates nongovernmental organizations to monitor opposition political activity, has done little to stop the fund-raising.
Social media tools are increasingly being used to raise funds for terrorist organizations, according to a new report by a risk-advisory service.
…The Camstoll Group, which advises companies, governments and financial institutions on risk management, said Monday in a note that it believes financial institutions should consider whether their analytical capabilities are able to effectively monitor social media for data relevant to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism finance risk management. Camstoll, in its report, pointed to last week’s U.S. action against two Kuwaitis for providing support to Syrian terrorists through social media-based fundraising campaigns and financial networks…
…The New York Department of Financial Services said on Monday that it had installed a monitor at BNP who will perform a review to “help inform the potential imposition and degree of similar penalties by DFS at other banks – where appropriate”. “Big picture, it’s definitely uncharted territory,” said Howard Mendelsohn, managing director at The Camstoll Group and a former sanctions expert at the US Treasury. “Many will be looking at BNP through a different lens, though the lead time to prepare gives them a chance to design and strengthen programmes that may work.”