Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Shutting down terrorists?

Straight out of the school of "seen to be doing something", the EU Commission is proposing that banks throughout the EU be required to register the name, address and bank account of anyone making an international money transfer.

This is according to the International Herald Tribune, although the Financial Times also runs the story, the aim of the new law being to disrupt the financing of terrorist activities.

Having listened to a number of experts on this subject, and read an authoritative book, one is immediately aware that organised terrorists - and criminals – have highly inventive and sophisticated means of moving their money around the world. They will, therefore, be completely unaffected by these proposals.

Despite this, Céu Pereira, a commission official in Brussels burbles: "Money is the nerve of war, and at present there are few possibilities to trace funding sources," telling us that the commission wants Council approval by December and rapid EU parliament approval, so the law can come into effect in January 2007.

Meanwhile, honest citizens will have another raft of bureaucracy thrust upon them, all in the name of public safety, although one recalls that one of the most egregious money laundering scams in recent history was carried out by EU officials working for Eurostat. They were salting away huge sums of public money in Swiss banks, in what was described as "a huge enterprise in looting".

One also recalls a certain transport commissioner, by the name of Jacques "Wheel" Barrot, was convicted by the French courts for laundering illegal party donations through Swiss Banks. However, we are not supposed to mention that.

What's the betting that this new law – which will be passed by the gormless "colleagues" in double-quick time – will have no effect on these sterling public servants (none of whom have been punished for their offences), while Blair and his fellow travellers will argue that this is another good reason for carrying identity cards.

Incidentally, the EU has got another trick up its sleeve, proposing stricter controls on explosives manufacturers to improve the traceability of their products – which is actually not a bad idea, but should be done on a global scale - and restricting the sale of farm fertiliser, which can be used to make bombs.

On the latter, the British will attest that the most stringent controls in the world never stopped really determined Irish terrorists getting hold of sufficient quantities of Ammonium Nitrate, although they did make it more difficult for ordinary people to acquire it.

Perhaps that is who the EU are after. It is getting to the point where even law-abiding people are beginning to dream about alternative uses for fertiliser.

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