UK charities hit by move to stem illegal funds

LONDON • More than 300 charities based in Britain have had their bank accounts closed in the last two years after being caught up in a global crackdown on illegal money flows, forcing the government to explore how to allow them easier access to the financial system.

Thousands more charities have had operations disrupted by delayed payments, causing financial losses and risks to employees, Britain's Charity Finance Group, which helps to organise charity financing, told Reuters.

Oxfam and Save the Children say they were among those hit.

The government is setting up a panel of charity executives, bankers and officials to meet in the coming months to "drive new policy thinking" to allow legitimate charities to operate unhindered, an official told Reuters.

The decision to assemble the working group comes ahead of a review by the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF) next March of Britain's efforts to tackle money laundering and financing of militant groups.

At the FATF meeting, Britain could face criticism of its failure to tackle the problem of charities losing access to the banking system, charity-sector analysts said. The FATF has recorded more than 100 cases worldwide of alleged abuse of charities for terrorist financing.

But legitimate charities say they have been cut off from the financial system because banks have been alarmed by billion-dollar fines meted out for breaching sanctions, and anti-terror financing and anti-money-laundering rules.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2017, with the headline 'UK charities hit by move to stem illegal funds'. Print Edition | Subscribe