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EU to tighten screws on terror financing
[BRUSSELS] The European Union on Wednesday proposed tighter checks on cash and gold transfers as part of a crackdown on terrorist financing across a bloc grappling with a wave of terrorism.
EU officials put forward greater powers to freeze or seize assets of suspected terrorists, crack down on money laundering and stop the flow of terror funds.
"With today's proposals, we strengthen our legal means to disrupt and cut off the financial sources of terrorists and criminals," the European Commission's First Vice President Frans Timmermans said.
"We must ensure we have the right tools in place to detect and stop suspicious financial flows."
Mr Timmermans said the plan will boost cooperation between law enforcement authorities across the bloc as Berlin became the latest terror-hit city when a truck ploughed through a Christmas market, killing 12 people.
"We meet again in this press room today in the shadow of the tragic events in Berlin Monday night, which have deeply shocked and saddened us all," commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told a news conference to unveil the proposals.
The proposals aim to establish minimum rules for defining criminal offences and sanctions on money laundering, and prevent criminals from exploiting loopholes among different national rules.
They aim to set up common EU rules to improve cross-border probes into money laundering, and call for tighter cash controls on people entering or leaving the bloc with 10,000 euros (S$14,403) or more in cash.
The proposals call for extending "customs checks to cash sent in postal parcels or freight shipments and to precious commodities such as gold".
The checks would for the first time cover prepaid payment cards.
The proposals call for one single legal instrument for orders to freeze and seize assets in other EU countries, with immediate application in all member states.
They would widen the scope of existing rules by allowing assets to be seized from people linked to a suspect and permit confiscation in cases where a suspect has fled or died.
They also envisage faster orders to freeze or confiscate assets based on a standard document and better cross-border communications.
The EU announced Tuesday it had reached agreement on tightening rules on firearms but fell short of demands to ban AK-47 semi-automatic rifles outright.