Sanctioned Russian oligarchs may resort to payment systems like those used by terrorists, experts say

  • Hawala is an underground payment system that lets users make undocumented transactions.
  • It has been linked to terrorist financing but is also used for legitimate purposes.

Russian oligarchs may be using informal trust-based payment systems known as Hawala to evade Western financial sanctions in a move that is not illegal but reflects their desperation, experts say.

Hawala lets funds be transferred from one entity to another without actually moving any money. There are no records as no documentation is required.

While it is often used for legitimate purposes such as migrant workers sending money home to family members, for example, Hawala transactions have also been linked to terrorist financing.

Following the 9/11 attacks, the US government sought to find how Al Qaeda had fund its attacks. Senator Paul Sarbanes said in a Senate hearing on November 14, 2001: “Since little is…

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