The Central Bank of Afghanistan’s Financial Transactions and Reporting Analysis Center (FinTRACA) halted operations after the Taliban (the organization is banned in Russia) disconnected it from the international server. Writes about this Reuters with reference to four employees of the department. The cessation of the exchange of information on illegal transactions with the international community will contribute to the country’s exit from the global financial system, experts say.
FinTRACA has provided data on money laundering and terrorist financing in Afghanistan to similar government agencies in other countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States. The unit’s website states that the Taliban have been its main target since the start of operations. The exchange of information took place, among other things, through the service of the informal international association of financial intelligence units “Egmont”, which has more than 160 members. On August 15, when the Taliban took Kabul, FinTRACA was disconnected from the organization’s server. Thus, the Taliban effectively refused to fight money laundering.
The UN said the Taliban received hundreds of millions of dollars from drug trafficking and other illegal sources before they took over Afghanistan. The Taliban is still listed on the FinTRACA website as a terrorist group that is prohibited from depositing or withdrawing cash in dollars. Members of the organization are included in a “checklist” of individuals whose activities pose a high risk to the country’s financial system. The Taliban called on FinTRACA specialists to return to work to help revive the country’s economy, and promised not to retaliate against them as former opponents. However, three officers reported that some of the personnel had left Afghanistan or were hiding from the authorities.
Experts warn that the shutdown of the financial intelligence unit could cut Afghanistan’s ties with the international community and foreign creditors. Communication with them is already hampered by sanctions against the Taliban by Western organizations and the United States. “Before the Taliban seized power, Afghanistan was already considered a country with high [экономическими] risks by almost all global financial institutions. Now that the central bank is headed by unknown persons, the financial intelligence unit is not functioning, the current government assets are frozen by the UN, and key [политические] figures [«Талибана»] declared terrorists in the US, I expect foreign financial institutions to act with extreme caution, ”said Stuart Jones, founder of risk analysis firm Sigma Ratings.
Over the 15 years of its existence, FinTRACA has collected information on thousands of suspicious transactions in the country and has helped to bring to justice many smugglers and persons assisting criminal groups. Following the closure of the agency, local banks fear that Afghanistan’s status will be downgraded by the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF), further weakening the Afghan economy’s connection to the global financial system.
Nevertheless, the Central Bank partially continued its work under the Taliban. Its new head, Mohammad Idris, recently met with representatives of commercial banks, after which the government issued them a limited amount of liquidity. In addition, the Central Bank issued directives to control scarce dollars, ordering banks to issue remittances only in the local currency – Afghani.