US Ambassador Dan Mozena on Monday said stopping the flow of money to terrorists and ending money laundering are essential to defeat terrorism and thus enable people to live in peace and harmony.
“Money and terrorism can be two sides of the same coin. Money is the oxygen of terrorism. To defeat terrorism, we must cut off the oxygen supply … we must cut off the flow of money,” he said.
The US diplomat, however, said it must be ensured that governments use antiterrorism and money laundering laws responsibly and not as political tools.
The US envoy made the remarks at the inaugural session of a three-day conference titled ‘Saarc Regional Judicial Conference on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing’ at the Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in the capital.
Law Minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed attended it as the chief guest while Guam Supreme Court Justice Robert J Torres and US District Court Judge, Western District, Texas Frank Montalvo spoke on the occasion.
The US diplomat laid emphasis on putting an end to terrorism to enable the people of respective countries to live in peace and harmony so that they can build better lives for themselves and for their children.
“Parliaments must enact robust laws targeting financial crimes and money laundering, bringing these laws to international standards. Here in Bangladesh, America and Bangladesh have partnered to craft powerful laws to provide the tools needed to put money launderers behind bars. Parliament has enacted those laws, which are now being enforced,” he added.
The envoy said parliaments must provide law enforcement agencies and the judiciary the resources needed to defeat money laundering.
Judges from Bangladesh and other Saarc neighbors Afghanistan, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan were also present.
Turning to the judges from across South Asia, Mozena said judges’ critical task is to suffocate terrorism to deprive terrorism of the money it needs to attack people, societies and countries. “… nobody said this is easy; it is not … nobody said this is without risk; it is not.”
He said the police and other law enforcement agencies, the intelligence agencies, the military all must play their parts in apprehending the money launderers and in gathering the evidence that needs to convict these culprits.
“As the money launderers and terrorists have become more sophisticated, so must law enforcement agencies develop new skills and utilise new technologies in the battle,” Mozena said.
He also said prosecutors will have to play a critical role and they must be professionals of integrity, competency as they present their cases before you in court. “We can’t become victims of our own narrow, nationalistic thinking … we, peace loving nations of the region and beyond, must commit ourselves to deeper cooperation in fighting money laundering and terrorism.”