60 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2013 Last revised: 25 Mar 2014
Date Written: February 2014
The events of September 11 forever changed the political and legal response to terrorism. After more than ten years, two wars, several targeted military strikes, and significantly increased surveillance, we still have not succeeded in stopping the growth of Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. The war on terror has not just been a military one. To stop terrorism, it is imperative to cut off the flow of terrorism financing. To this end, a number of nations have created financial laws that prohibit the formation of anonymous companies and monitor suspicious bank transfers. These laws have been touted as evidence that we are winning the war on terrorism. This Article questions their efficacy. In particular, this Article proves how easy it is to form a terrorist finance network and exploits the impotence of both international and domestic financial regulations that have been passed in this area. The Article presents findings from the largest global randomized controlled trial to date. In our experiment, we acted as customers seeking to form anonymous shell companies in a variety of scenarios resulting in either greater risk or greater reward. On the whole, forming an anonymous shell company is as easy as ever, despite increased regulations following 9/11. The results are disconcerting and demonstrate that we are much too far from a world that is safe from terror.
Keywords: terrorism, war on terror, terrorism financing, shell company, anonymous, randomized controlled trial, money laundering, corruption, charity, FATF, UNOTC
JEL Classification: K33, C93, F23, G15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation