New Delhi: ATMs have become the new gateways
to fund terror activities and carry out money laundering as
economic intelligence agencies are recording an increasing
trend of suspicious withdrawals of huge amounts from these
machines with easy access across the country.
According to an official report, intelligence and
enforcement agencies tracking suspicious transactions have
also found growing usage of credit and debit cards to draw
huge cash and later pump it into terror activities.
The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which received more
than 17,000 Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) during
2009-10 financial year, has reported such incidents involving
ATMs in its 66-page report to the Finance Ministry.
The elite unit headquartered in the national capital
followed up these suspicious transactions with central
security agencies to trace the individuals.
"The ATMs have emerged as the new gateways for terror
funding. The trend seen is that one source remits the money
from within the country or abroad and multiple individuals
withdraw it from one or multiple locations. Such accounts,
when detected, were immediately frozen by the government under
provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act," a
senior Finance Ministry official said.
Withdrawals from ATMs reduce the chances of detection of
terror agents by police and intelligence agencies, the
"A report was received from a bank on transactions in a
savings account in a district in Kerala. The account showed
cash deposits below Rs 50,000 across several branches in
Kerala and Maharashtra, followed by withdrawals through ATMs.
"The report was disseminated to an intelligence agency.
Enquiries revealed that the subject had gone to one of the
Gulf countries for employment and had started his own business
in flowers and curtains in Kerala on his return.
"Analysis of two bank accounts of the person and his son
revealed remittances from Gulf and immediate cash withdrawal
from an ATM at Hyderabad. Investigations showed business
connections with an accused who was in police custody for
involvement in a pipe bomb case. The money was withdrawn from
Hyderabad-based ATMs by an associate of the accused and was
allegedly used to facilitate terrorist activities," the FIU
report said citing an instance of terror funding using ATMs.
Officials in economic intelligence units said they are
also probing instances of usage of Nepal-based credit cards to
withdraw huge sums of money from ATMs in Jammu and Kashmir.