President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Chikhanchin, I know that you wanted to tell me about your work with partners abroad, particularly within the FATF [Financial Action Task Force] group, on combating financing of terrorism. Let’s start with this and then move on to other matters.
Head of the Federal Service for Financial Monitoring Yury Chikhanchin: Mr President, I already briefed you on the first FATF meeting. Another meeting just took place, entirely devoted to the issue of financing terrorism.
Many countries take an ambiguous line on this issue, but we stand by our position. We have coordinated with you on this and are developing three main areas of work.
First are the international terrorist centres and their cells in different places, including on Russian soil. Second are the terrorists fighting in Syria, on ISIS-controlled territory, and third are businesses that assist terrorism and make money this way.
We are working with our colleagues abroad on these matters, especially with our colleagues in the CIS, the heads of their financial intelligence agencies, and the Eurasian Working Group (modelled on FATF). We are working with the BRICS countries too, and we just had a meeting with representatives of the working groups from Syria, Iraq, Iran and Russia. We have approved a common approach, which has enabled us, using the FATF platform, to launch our methodology for resolving these issues.
On the question of international terrorist centres and their cells, together with the FSB, we have identified 42 such cells on Russian territory alone. Our cooperation with our colleagues abroad has helped to identify around another 30 cells in other countries.
All in all, as far as the terrorists themselves go, 1,500 people were officially and publicly listed as terrorists last year, and more than 3,500 accounts were frozen.
We have cases too regarding businesses that are helping terrorists. We are investigating both Russian and foreign companies in this regard.
We are working together with Malta and France. We also have some work with Turkey underway at present. We are investigating international terrorist centres abroad. We are working very closely with our French partners right now.
The members of one cell, organised by people from our Caucasus regions, have already been arrested in France. More than 1,000 people here in Russia were in contact with them and were receiving money from them. Regrettably, some of these people have gone to fight with ISIS. This sums up our main areas of activity.
Our methods have produced the best results in the CIS region. Kyrgyzstan has worked hard in this area and has identified around 500 people with connections to ISIS. Dozens of criminal cases have been opened. We are currently working on several cases with the FSB [Federal Security Service] and Kyrgyzstan. These cases involve people who ended up on Russian soil. We are working very closely together in this area.
One issue that is cause for serious concern, and on which we are also working together with the FSB and government officials, is that ads appealing for money for the ‘war against the infidels’ appear on social networks and people here in Russia respond to them and send money. This is a reality, sadly, and people use electronic wallets to transfer funds. What is their motive? Each individual no doubt has his or her own motive, and this is something for us to elucidate. We have already identified most of these people, several dozen in total. We are continuing this work.
Our work within the FATF group has also produced some good results, especially as regards business. The experts say that now that oil refineries and pipelines have been destroyed, efforts are underway to find components for these facilities.
Vladimir Putin: On territory controlled by ISIS.
Yury Chikhanchin: Yes, of course. We are currently working actively with the UN and will very soon have a list of the components needed for refining oil in ISIS-controlled territory.
A similar list of cultural heritage objects will soon appear on the European Union’s site. Banks, commercial organisations and private individuals will thus be aware that these are objects taken out of ISIS-controlled territory.
As for business, again, according to what the FATF experts said at the latest plenary session, around 100 oil refineries in Europe are being dismantled, and there are fears that their components could be taken into ISIS-controlled territory. All FATF participants, all countries, have been warned. This is another area in which we continue our work.
This is the situation at present with our work on preventing the financing of terrorism.