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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 May 2006, 07:33 GMT 08:33 UK
Charities 'launder dirty money'
DUP's Gregory Campbell
Gregory Campbell, DUP, said charity regulations must be tightened
Organised criminals in Northern Ireland with links to paramilitaries are using charities to launder the proceeds of crime, MPs have been warned.

The evidence was put before a meeting of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in Westminster on Wednesday.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell, a committee member, said charity regulations needed to be tightened.

The government intends to do so, with the establishment of a Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.

Mr Campbell said committee members took time to question officials at Wednesday's meeting about how much more tightly controlled the system would be in the future.

"People will be concerned that anyone can establish charitable status quite legitimately and then can use that charitable status for very uncharitable purposes," he said.

However, he added that legitimate charities had nothing to fear.

Members of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee felt that the proposed measures did not go far enough.

A Northern Ireland Office memo put before the committee, acknowledged the existence of "certain organisations associated publicly with current and former paramilitary groups" which did have legitimate charitable purposes.

But it stated: "PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) investigations have highlighted cases where bank accounts in the names of charitable organisations, associated with current and former paramilitary groups, have been used to encash money collected from extortion and other criminal activities.

"In these cases, persons with strong paramilitary connections undertook the criminal activities."

The memorandum also highlighted the existence in Northern Ireland of "sham" charities set up as sophisticated tax avoidance vehicles, involving sums running into millions of pounds.


SEE ALSO:
NI criminal assets are targeted
31 Jan 06 |  Northern Ireland


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