Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Friday, February 6, 2015

SELF-CENSORSHIP BY PALESTINIAN MEDIA HIDES NEGATIVE INFORMATION ON CORRUPT PEPs

Palestinian journalists protect their treatment in Gaza

A recent survey confirmed that 80% of the Palestinian journalists, working in the West Bank or Gaza, practice what they call self-censorship in their writing. This means that no news of financial or political corruption in the Territories is ever written, or released to international media outlets for publication.

The reason is simple: Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, agents regularly threaten the lives of any journalists who dare to publish negative news about the corrupt governments in place in the Territories. the PA, and Hamas, and even ISIS/ISIL agents maintain ongoing efforts to censor any and all domestic news that might embarrass corrupt Palestinian leaders. The families of the journalists also fear for their lives, should any information about local corruption be published.

Why is this important to compliance officers at international banks ? When a prospective Arab client, who promises to bring what sounds like lucrative new business to your bank, is a corrupt PEP from the Palestinian Territories, you will want to identify him as such, prior to making a decision about account opening. Many wealthy Palestinian PEPs carry Jordanian, Egyptian, or Lebanese passports, and they may claim to be wealthy businessmen, and conceal their PEP status, and their true nationality, and the fact that they reside within the Territories.

When Palestinian PEPs exercise self-censorship, they refrain from writing articles that might name your new client as a PEP, or complain about his corrupt activities. This puts compliance officers involved with CIP at a distinct disadvantage; they may not identify the individual as a PEP, and later find out that, since his account was deemed low risk, and not subject to monitoring, that he engaged in multiple suspicious transactions, which you failed to catch in real-time.

Some suggestions:

 (1) A prudent policy might be to require that enhanced due diligence be performed on all individuals who could possibly be Palestinian PEPs .

(2) Do you have anyone on staff who is familiar with the accent, and terms, peculiar to Palestinian Arabic speech ? A few minutes, listening to the new client, might reveal his true nationality.

(3) What is the listed place of birth of this individual ? Is it anywhere within what is now the State of Israel ?

Given that Hamas is a designated terrorist organization, and that corruption is universal within the Palestinian Authority, banking any Palestinian PEP, you might be well advised to decline any new account where you cannot conclusively rule out PEP status for the client.  

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