October 03, 2006

US Treasury Updates Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines for Charitable Sector

The U.S. Department of the Treasury today issued updated Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines: Voluntary Best Practices for U.S.-based Charities (Guidelines), taking into consideration the comments and suggestions provided by the public to assist the charitable community in efforts to safeguard itself from the threat of abuse and exploitation by terrorist organizations.

The updated Guidelines issued today follow a public comment period that opened in December 2005. Additionally, Treasury also issued today a response to the comments submitted on the Guidelines to further detail the public comment and finalization process.

"Throughout the comment period, we welcomed ideas and suggestions by the charitable sector, and took steps to strengthen areas of concern and fortify areas of support," said Pat O'Brien, Assistant Secretary for the Treasury's Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crime.

The Treasury, in November 2002, issued an original set of Guidelines to aid the charitable sector in protecting against potential abuse and exploitation by terrorist groups and their support networks. This guidance was based on the ongoing threat to well-intentioned charitable works globally. The Treasury has maintained an open and robust dialogue with the charitable community, notably the Arab-American and Islamic-American community, on how to best safeguard charitable giving from misuse by terrorists and increase awareness of the very real threat terrorist groups pose to the sector.

"The Guidelines reinforce the need to keep the communication channels between the government and the sector open and ongoing and demonstrate the need for continued outreach between the two. Given the importance of charitable work to people in need and the multiple ways terrorist groups exploit such work, outreach and dialogue are truly crucial components to our overall counter-terrorist financing strategy," O'Brien continued.

These Guidelines take into account areas of major concern, clarifying that the Guidelines are voluntary, not mandatory, and they do not amend or supersede existing statutes and regulations governing charities. The Guidelines provide recommended best practices, which are intended to help charities develop, reevaluate, and build upon pre-existing internal controls and protective measures.

The Guidelines urge charities to take a proactive risk-based approach to protecting against illicit abuse and are intended to be applied by those charities vulnerable to such abuse in a matter that is commensurate with the risks they face and the resources with which they work. As requested by the charitable sector, the Guidelines contain extensive anti-terrorist financing guidance, as well as guidance on sound governance and financial practices that helps to prevent exploitation of charities.

"The abuse of charities by terrorist organizations is a serious and urgent matter, and the Guidelines reinforce the need for both the U.S. Government and the charitable sector alike to keep this challenge at the forefront of our complementary efforts. The Treasury Department is committed to protecting and enabling legitimate and vital charity worldwide, and will continue to work with the sector to advance our mutual goals," said O'Brien.

Link to Guidelines