Tags: Bin | Laden | Stock | Trades | Probed

Bin Laden Stock Trades Probed

Tuesday, 18 September 2001 12:00 AM

Authorities are also looking into the larger question of terrorist fund-raising. The U.S. Treasury Department announced this week that it has created an interagency task group devoted to the investigation of terrorist fund-raising.

According to Treasury's Under Secretary of Enforcement Jimmy Gurule, the newly established "Foreign Asset Tracking Center" will work to assess the source and method of fund-raising used by identified terrorist groups, and to provide information to law enforcement officials about location and movement of terrorist money.

Stock regulatory authorities around the world have confirmed they are examining the potentially large selling of stock futures before the Sept. 11 attacks, and the repurchase of them after the attacks at a cheaper price when they plunged in value; the so-called "short-selling" of stocks after the attack, which also profits from shares dropping in value; and the possible dumping of a large volume of insurance and airline stocks before the attacks.

Japanese authorities confirmed they are looking into the possibility that terrorists were active in the Tokyo and Osaka markets shortly before and after the attacks. Massaki Tsuchida, president of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, said in a statement that investigations were looking at stocks traded on the exchange before and after the attack.

One official said that though certain trades themselves were not illegal, their probe might provide a linkage to agents or groups related to bin Laden.

"The significance of the investigations, though, is what it could lead to, and to see who might be involved with the terrorist groups directly," said one Japanese government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Any lead we can have on the complex web of terrorist activities is significant."

Meanwhile, European exchange regulators held a conference call Monday as part of the kickoff of an investigation into whether bin Laden's network, al Qaida or "The Base," or other allied groups or agents used any of the Western European stock exchanges to profit from terror attacks that led to market declines around the world.

A spokesman for the German market regulatory agency, the Bundesaufsichtsamt fuer Wertpapierbesitz (BAW), said the type of information exchange taking place between market regulators was standard. He confirmed, however, that regulators were looking into certain trading surrounding the attacks.

In particular, the German authorities are looking into short selling of large insurance stocks, including Germany's Munich Re, Switzerland's Swiss Re (reinsurance), and the French company AXA, a major "reinsurance" firm that dropped over 10 percent in value after the attack.

According to reports published in Italy's La Stampa, the Italian government is looking into whether bin Laden or allies channeled funds through a Milan brokerage house to speculate on the international financial markets.

In an interview with La Stampa, Italian defense minister Antonio Martino said he believed that bin Laden and groups with links to bin Laden's network have been trading on the financial markets.

"It is no exaggeration to think terrorist groups were among those who would speculate on international markets," Martino told La Stampa.

British market regulators at the Financial Services Authority, the watchdog for the U.K. markets, said the agency was investigating possibly suspicious trades on the market.

For years, U.S. intelligence has been looking into bin Laden funding in general. The Saudi Arabian is estimated by authorities to be worth more than $300 million, and to have created a financial network - including shell companies - that spans several continents.

In a news conference Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell describe bin Laden as being like "the CEO of a holding company, with many autonomous divisions."

A U.S. official said Tuesday intelligence reports show that "in general, Osama bin Laden has financed his terrorists network through business, charitable organization, and individual donors."

"Al Quida - 'the Base' - uses charitable NGOs to hide the movement of their money, weapons and personnel," the official said.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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Authorities are also looking into the larger question of terrorist fund-raising. The U.S. Treasury Department announced this week that it has created an interagency task group devoted to the investigation of terrorist fund-raising. According to Treasury's Under Secretary...
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2001-00-18
Tuesday, 18 September 2001 12:00 AM
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