Thursday, December 1, 2016


A suit has been filed, by an Arab Chilean of Palestinian extraction, against three present and former justices of the Supreme Court of Israel, alleging war crimes and crimes against humanity. The claim is based upon the fact that the justices approved the construction of a separation barrier, a wall, between Israel and the territories of Judea & Samaria.

While the legal basis for the suit is clearly questionable at best, and most likely barred by law, the fact that it was filed at all is a cause for concern, on the part of compliance officers. Chile is home to more Palestinians, and their descendants, than any country outside the Middle East, and they claim to wield substantial political power in Chile. In recent years, they have become more vocal and militant, in their opposition to Israel.

Many Palestinians do not support the Palestinian Authority, and Fatah, the reigning political party; they support Hamas, which is designated SDGT by OFAC. Hamas' charter calls for the destruction of the State of Israel, by military means, for the occupation of all its sovereign territory, and the removal of its Jewish citizens.

 If Arab Chileans of Palestinian descent start actively supporting Hamas, in addition to the financial assistance they already send to it,  they will be guilty of providing material support to a terrorist organization. If they employ US financial institutions for that purpose, any banks that fail to interdict transactions involving the purchase of goods or services, for Hamas, could be subject to serious fines & civil penalties, or worse, indictment in Federal Court

 Companies in the United States and Chile enjoy a healthy trading relationship, and Chile is regarded, compliance officers in the US & Canada, as low risk, for Country Risk and AML/CFT purposes. Should  Chileans of Palestinian descent initiate the purchase of dual purpose goods, or engage in other material support of Hamas, then Country Risk must be elevated accordingly, and profiling of Chileans with Arab surnames, to rule out terrorist supporters, could become standard operating practice.

Given the US position on Hamas, and the threat of sanctions for failure to act as a gatekeeper, on a real-time basis, compliance officers should become alert to any increase in anti-Israel activity originating in Chile, and to take steps to identify possible high-risk Chileans, who pose a greater risk that they will engage with Hamas, or are already doing do.

Examine these potential red flags:

(1) Was the individual born, according to his passport, in the Middle East ?
(2) Did he change his name ?
(3) Is his dress, and that of his wife or companion, consistent with that of a typical Latin American ?
(4) Is he fluent in Spanish, and does he use another language, when conversing with family members ?
(5) Is he engaged in international trade ?
(6) Does he have traditional Latin American physical features ?
(7) Does he show multiple trips to the Middle East in his passport ?

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