Civic Initiatives Reaction After Government’s Demands on Access to Bank Records of CSOs, Journalists and Individuals in Serbia

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In a statement, BCSDN’s member Civic Initiatives calls the Government to stop abusing the mechanism for preventing money laundering and terrorist financing by intimidating organizations, media and individuals that are critically oriented towards Government’s actions. The Administration for the Prevention of Money Laundering sent a letter to the Serbian banks requesting data on all money transactions for 57 organizations, media and individuals. The list is composed of organizations which scope of work is dedicated on human rights, war crimes and government monitoring, as well as investigative media.

Civic Initiatives recalls that the Law, as well as the appropriate procedures, were adopted in the framework of fulfilling the obligations of the Republic of Serbia towards the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Council of Europe Committee MONEYVAL, contributing to the global efforts in combating terrorist financing. Thus, confronting organizations and critical media in such a way is an abuse of the legal mechanism and state resources.

Civic Initiatives calls on the Administration for the Prevention of Money Laundering to suspend the investigation against the organizations, to publish the documents and to explain the process of creating the list sent to the banks. CI also calls relevant institutions to carry out the internal control of the Administration for the Prevention of Money Laundering; to determine the role and responsibility of the members of the Coordination Body for the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing; and to publish the results of the control.

Civic initiatives will suspend any cooperation with the relevant institutions implementing the Law until its abuse ceases, and will notify FATF, the Council of Europe’s MONEYVAL Committee, as well as other international institutions, and organizations about the abuse of the anti-money laundering and terrorist financing system.

Read the full text CI statement in local language here.

The media and CSOs demand from the Ministry of Finance and the Administration for the Prevention of Money Laundering to immediately present the grounds for suspicion due to which they ordered the extraordinary collection of information about organizations, media, and individuals from the commercial banks, stating that they will take all appropriate legal actions against those involved in the abuse. They remind the public that the organizations and media from the list are subject to various types of regular state control, including inspections and rigorous checks of financial operations by the Tax Administration and the National Bank of Serbia, as well as by their own donors. At the end, the CSOs and Media conclude that  they welcome and support legal inspection of their work, but oppose the abuse of institutions and procedures, fighting for a democratic and legal state.

BCSDN supports its member Civic Initiatives on this statement against the abuse of the mechanism for preventing money laundering and terrorist financing by intimidating organizations, media and individuals in Serbia.

Following the current circumstances, BCSDN encourages Serbian CSOs to apply for assistance/funding provided through the Call for the ad-hoc grants. The ad-hoc grants are intended to support the CSOs in combating such attacks and pressures as the CSOs in Serbia are facing with at the moment.

Please find the Call on this link.

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