Today the national charity regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), published new information to help charities avoid funding terrorism activities.

Charitable organisations mostly operate with integrity and sound governance practice, however they are particularly vulnerable to financing terrorism. The ‘Protecting your charity against the risk of terrorism financing’ checklist and guidance, available at acnc.gov.au/protectTF, set out practical steps to help charities minimise the risk of funding or supporting terrorism.

The checklist and guidance help minimise the risk of:

  • Charitable funds being used for acts of terrorism

  • Charitable assets (such as vehicles and premises) being misused

  • A charity’s name and status being exploited for terrorism fundraising without their knowledge

  • Financial abuse within a charity (for example members of a terrorist group infiltrating a charity as employees, fundraisers or volunteers)

  • Charities being set up for illegal or improper purposes.

ACNC Commissioner, Susan Pascoe AM, warned that charities can be misused to raise and distribute funds for terrorism.

“While overwhelmingly charities operate honestly and professionally, there is nonetheless the risk of misuse for illegal or improper purpose,”Ms Pascoe said.

“The importance of awareness to minimise the risk of financing terrorism was highlighted in the recently published AUSTRAC report, Terrorism financing in Australia 2014.

“The report stated that charities are key channels for terrorism financing, and that there is an emerging trend of charities being used to raise funds for groups engaged in foreign conflicts.

“This is a particularly concerning issue for Australia, as ACNC data has shown that around 17% of registered charities operate overseas, with many conducting much needed humanitarian activities in war-torn countries.

“The heightened risk means all charities must take reasonable precautions and exercise due diligence to ensure that funds are not inadvertently directed towards terrorism. The ACNC has worked across government and with the sector to help charities protect themselves against this threat.”

Executive Director of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), Mr Marc Purcell supported the ACNC’s terrorism financing checklist, stating that it is a practical tool to assist charities in navigating potentially complex financial arrangements both here and overseas.

He said that the checklist and guidance would also act as a timely reminder to all charities that vigilance in their financial dealings must be a mainstay of their operations.

“ACFID views the ACNC’s checklist as a useful companion to our Code of Conduct and should be of interest to all of its members,” Mr Purcell said.

“ACFID’s code aims to improve international development outcomes and increase stakeholder trust by enhancing transparency and accountability of signatory organisations.”

Charities seeking further guidance can call the ACNC on 13 ACNC (13 22 62),email advice@acnc.gov.au, or visit acnc.gov.au.

Members of the public with concerns about a charity’s conduct are encouraged to visit acnc.gov.au/charityconcern to lodge a formal complaint.

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