UK freezes $90m Taliban assets
LONDON, England -- Britain has announced that it has frozen almost $90 million dollars of assets suspected of belonging to the Taliban and other terror regimes.
Finance minister Gordon Brown told the annual conference of the ruling Labour Party on Monday that about £61 million ($88 million), has been frozen since the United Nation's Security Council imposed sanctions in November 1999.
A "substantial amount" of the money, located in an European bank in London, was frozen last Wednesday, the Treasury had said in the run-up to the speech.
The UK government is also said to be planning to tighten laws on money laundering by monitoring suspect bank accounts and freezing suspect money funds.
Brown used his speech on Monday to underline the importance of cutting off the flow of finance to suicide attackers, what he termed the "lifeblood" of modern terror strikes.
The UK's Terrorism Act 2000 implemented the U.N.'s convention on suppressing the financing of terror attacks.
The UK has one of the most rigorous anti-terrorism regimes in the world, the Treasury added, but further measures were being drawn up to strengthen it further including improved monitoring of clean money, and stricter obligations on banks to report their suspicions
Brown said: "We call upon all nations to ensure that just as there is no safe haven for terrorists, there is no safe hiding place for terrorists' funding."
He called for the U.N.'s 190-members to impose financial sanctions on those who support terror attacks.
He also urged countries to use humanitarian aid on helping to reduce poverty rather than using it to pay for weapons.
Brown said the UK was in a strong financial position to resist the suicide attackers' aim of causing economic stability because it had low interest rates and inflation as well as a reduced public debt since the Gulf War 10 years' ago.
He also said the UK had shown "strength" alongside its European neighbours in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
In Germany, the government has impounded 13 accounts worth more than $1 million after the U.S. released the names of 27 groups and individuals whose assets it wants frozen.
Assets worth $4 million have been reported as frozen in France.
Pakistan has impounded the assets of two groups on the U.S. list, while Australia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have ordered a freeze on all the assets of individuals and companies linked to terrorism.
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have ordered banks to check if they had dealings with the suspect groups.
The financial crackdown on terrorism moves into a higher gear on Monday when the United Nations Security Council meets to debate the issue.
The council last week passed a U.S.-sponsored resolution freezing the financial assets of terrorism suspects.
The United States would like the U.N. to step up its role in weeding out clandestine networks.
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