The Agency Insider with Linda McGlasson

New Bill: Help a Terrorist, Lose Citizenship

New Bill: Help a Terrorist, Lose Citizenship

If a new bill is passed by Congress, bankers who are found to be aiding terror groups would lose their U.S. citizenship. In the Senate, a bipartisan, bicameral congressional sponsor group has filed the Terrorist Expatriation Act of 2010.

Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman has joined the group that filed the bill, which says a US citizen who provides material support or resources to a Foreign Terrorist Organization -- or actively engages in, or purposefully and materially supporting, hostilities against the United States -- would lose citizenship.

If just the threat of losing one's citizenship isn't enough, a 20-year stretch in prison ought to be a deterrent to aiding terrorist financing. 

This bill specifically is designed to take away citizenship from those people who join terror groups, but it is also applicable to those who finance them, including American bankers who move the terrorists' money. This should keep everyone on their toes in the BSA/AML areas of compliance -- especially after the arrests of six individuals in on the east coast on Thursday. The six men are suspected of helping move money for Faisal Shahzad, the suspected terrorist who was behind the botched Times Square bombing attempt on May 1.

Ken Rijock, an anti-money laundering expert, notes that possibly this threat of expatriation "Is going to be another tool used by the U.S. Department of Justice to force many defendants to plead out, like they presently do by filing money laundering charges (with its powerful 20-year penalty) in cases where money laundering is only a minor aspect of the crime."

I'm in agreement with this. If just the threat of losing one's citizenship isn't enough, a 20-year stretch in prison ought to be a deterrent to aiding terrorist financing by money laundering.

There are those bankers who knowingly move terror money around. With this bill enacted, all it would take is one or two of those individuals to lose their citizenship to serve as an example.

For those bankers who are already doing the right thing, the emphasis of due diligence and knowing who you're doing business with now takes on a new meaning. Your compliance officer is the gatekeeper of your institution, and that job has now taken on a new level of importance.

About the Author

Linda McGlasson

Linda McGlasson

Managing Editor

Linda McGlasson is a seasoned writer and editor with 20 years of experience in writing for corporations, business publications and newspapers. She has worked in the Financial Services industry for more than 12 years. Most recently Linda headed information security awareness and training and the Computer Incident Response Team for Securities Industry Automation Corporation (SIAC), a subsidiary of the NYSE Group (NYX). As part of her role she developed infosec policy, developed new awareness testing and led the company's incident response team. In the last two years she's been involved with the Financial Services Information Sharing Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), editing its quarterly member newsletter and identifying speakers for member meetings.

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