The government’s anti-money laundering watchdog Austrac has told a Senate inquiry there is no link between halal certification and terrorism financing.
There is no evidence that money paid for certification of halal food is funding foreign fighters or terrorism, the government’s financial intelligence arm has told a Senate inquiry.
The inquiry into food certification, launched by Liberal senator Cory Bernardi, has received submissions alleging money paid to organisations or companies that certify halal food ends up in the hands of terrorists.
But the acting deputy chief executive of Austrac, Angela Jamieson, told the inquiry in Sydney on Thursday that there was no evidence that halal food certification is linked to financing of terrorism.
More than 500 submissions have been made to the inquiry, which is also examining certification of kosher and organic food in Australia.
Ms Jamieson said while there had been various public claims that fees from certification of halal food may be funding terrorism, Austrac had not found any links.
“Austrac monitors reported financial transactions, including reports of suspicious financial activity and related transaction, to identify money movements that are associated with halal certification,” she said in an opening statement.
“Of the information identified from this monitoring of reported financial transactions, none of these have been assessed as relating to funding terrorism with regard to halal certification fees.”
Ms Jamieson said the agency was also involved in global efforts to combat groups such as Islamic State, including in relation to foreign fighters.
“Through the operational activities of Austrac, including international engagement and international exchange on foreign fighters and terrorism financing, there has been no evidence of links to halal certification, including funding of terrorism,” she said.
The Australian Crime Commission later told the hearing that its investigations had not identified any particular links between halal certification and terrorism or serious organised crime.
“Since this issue was highlighted in the press, we’ve been on a heightened lookout for any links between halal certification in our intelligence holdings and, to date, we have not found a direct link,” the commission’s national manager of strategic intelligence Hamish Hansford told the hearing.