9 Nov 2005

Concern grows in Fiji about links between money laundering and terrorism

11:19 am on 9 November 2005

There is serious concern in Fiji that the increasing incidence of money laundering could be used to fund terrorist activities.

The Fiji Times reports that the fear has been expressed by the chief executive of the justice ministry, Sakiusa Rabuka.

Mr Rabuka says since 2003 more than 1,500 suspected cases of money laundering have been reported in Fiji.

Mr Rabuka expressed his concern about the link between money laundering and the funding of terrorism at a counter terrorism exercise called EXERCISE READY PACIFIKA being held at the Forum Secretariat in Suva.

The exercise was under way yesterday as Australian police raided several locations and arrested 17 people believed to be in the final stages of preparing to carry out catastrophic terrorist attacks in Melbourne and Sydney.

Fiji's Police Tactical Response Unit, the Special Branch, and its intelligence unit as well as border control agencies have been on high alert since last week when the Australian prime minister, John Howard, first spoke of the imminent threat of terrorism there.

The police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, says they have been briefed on the operations in Australia and he is satisfied there is no immediate threat to Fiji or other Pacific island countries.