Natalie Goulet: “Cryptocurrencies can supply weapons to organized crime, jihadist networks and white supremacist circles”

Natalie Goulet in Paris, April 29, 2020

Orne UDI Senator Natalie Goulet has just published a primer on terrorist financing (Le Cherche Midi, 434 pages, €19.50), a very extensive book with many examples on a rather technical and little known topic.

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

There is real permeability between major financial crime schemes and terrorist financing schemes. Fighting one means fighting the other. It is impossible to give up, even if it is difficult, even if terrorism uses household items.

How to fight low-cost terrorism?

First of all, I would like to emphasize that state financing of terrorism has been significantly reduced and today only concerns two or three countries, such as North Korea. Saudi Arabia, for example, has completely abandoned the old practice. This is the result of policies put in place after 9/11 and also because the kingdom was targeted by terrorists.

Let’s return to the financing of “cheap” terrorism…

Low-cost terrorism often goes through online banks, as we saw in the Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvre attack. [le 26 juillet 2016, le père Jacques Hamel était assassiné dans son église par deux jeunes terroristes djihadistes], anti-fraud systems were distributed to them. For every 1,000 people who fundraise online to offer a gift or celebrate a birthday, there will be one or two people who will use the scheme to commit crimes. These local microfinances are now subject to declarations thanks to a text that we voted for with a bit of tongs. Tracfin, France’s best financial intelligence company, is now able to investigate these pots.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers At the trial of the attack on Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvre, the attack is both announced and improvised.

We talk a lot about cryptocurrencies. Is it a fantasy or a serious risk in terrorist financing?

Cryptocurrency is a means of pure opacity in both the bearer of the currency and its spending. We will have to work on this in order to reduce the dangers of this parallel economy. This is all the more dangerous since several dilapidated states have adopted cryptocurrencies. This is the case of Ukraine. When we know the situation in this country, its propensity for arms trafficking and corruption, we can justifiably be concerned. This can fuel organized crime with guns, as well as jihadist networks or even white supremacist circles that shouldn’t be forgotten. We observed a similar situation in the Balkans in the 1990s.

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