January 27, 2015 / 2:58 PM / 4 years ago

France: EU must target anonymous money transfers to tackle militants

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin leaves after the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris December 22, 2014. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union must better monitor anonymous money transfers to crack down on the financing of terrorism and this idea will be part of proposals to be presented to the bloc’s leaders next month, France’s finance minister said on Tuesday.

EU leaders will meet in Brussels on Feb. 12-13 to discuss the bloc’s strategy, just over a month after Islamist gunmen killed 17 people in three attacks in Paris, including on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and on a Jewish store.

Also this month, Belgian police killed two men during one of several raids targeting an Islamist group suspected of plotting attacks in Belgium.

“The terrorist attacks that hit Paris and the ones that were thwarted in Brussels show this is how those terrorist groups finance themselves, with small-scale mechanisms, small money transfers concealed by anonymity,” France’s Michel Sapin said after talks with fellow EU finance ministers.

The EU’s foreign ministers last week discussed setting up a new network of European security agents abroad as they sought a united response.

They will also work on improving the exchange of information between national anti-money laundering agencies and also the monitoring of money transfers between EU countries and “danger zones”, Sapin said.

As far as money transfers are concerned, Sapin said European countries “must change regulations ... to better monitor small transfers that are covered by anonymity.”

This concerns not only payment transfer companies but also other ways of making anonymous payments, Sapin said. Officials also mentioned virtual payment systems.

Reporting by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Gareth Jones

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