Assembly to legislate counter-terrorist asset freezing regime

The city’s Legislative Assembly will soon deliberate its first counter-terrorist asset freezing regime, a move that will plug the current legal hole of financial sanctions for terrorist activities designated by the United Nations Security Council. The Executive Council and Financial Intelligence Office introduced the measure yesterday. “There is an urgency for the regime to be legislated because it is to exercise our international obligation, and that the Chinese central government has ascertained the UN Security Council’s resolutions have to be extended here,” the Director of the Financial Intelligence Office, Deborah Ng Man Seong, told Business Daily following the Executive Council’s press briefing of the regime. “Macau lacks a mechanism to exercise the UN Security Council’s resolutions against terrorist financing,” Ms Ng told us, “But in the ten years of operation of our office, we’ve observed that the risk for terrorist financing here is very low – we have nearly zero cases of alleged local financing activities for terrorist groups or individuals.” The regime, which is drafted by the office, proposes that the MSAR Government immediately freeze assets owned by terrorist groups or individuals in the territory upon the designation of the UN Security Council. The regime also allows the Macau Government to form a list of designated individuals or entities that are believed to finance terrorism. The city’s Chief Executive is given power to designate the persons or entities that have been found to finance terrorist acts and freeze their assets held here – the designation is effective for two years, and can be extended by the Chief Executive depending on whether the designated individuals are still found to have committed acts of financing terrorist activities. “We’ve fixed the validity period for the designation for two years after observing the condition of Macau, and after this two-year period we’ll continue to monitor the activities of the designated individuals,” said Ms. Ng. The regime also proposes extending the asset freezing to connected persons of individuals or entities designated by the UN Security Council as terrorists. The acts of asset freezing for designated persons or entities will be publicised as a Chief Executive dispatch in the Official Gazette, according to the regime.