The official welcome, given this week to the leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, by Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa, should set off alarms among compliance officers who are responsible for assessing Country Risk. The pro-Hamas, anti-Israel press releases issuing from the Government of South Africa are only the outward manifestation of what appears to be a blossoming relationship.
This spells trouble for compliance officers who watch for new terrorist financing pipelines, where Hamas is concerned, for South Africans donors are well known to be supporters of Israel, and imaginative money launderers could exploit the low risk nature of transactions from the country, to move funds to Hamas, through circuitous methods not previously attempted.
Additionally, statements in support of Hamas, by pro-Muslim organizations in South Africa, and by Asian-Middle East NGOs, indicate that advocates for this internationally designated terrorist organization are active in the country, and could facilitate the flow of funds, weapons, or explosives to Hamas. This has become a real possibility, and compliance officers, and their staff should thoroughly vet al non-profits, NGO, associations, fraternal groups, or other entities whose funds, or shipments, are destined for the Gaza Strip. Funds could be transferred in by way of Turkey, where Hamas maintains a field headquarters, who object is to attack Israeli civilian targets.
Hamas operatives captured by Israel were reported to have large amounts of money in their possession; is South Africa one of the new conduits ? In any event, the new love affair between Hamas and the ANC is a cause for concern, especially for compliance officers. Raise Country Risk on South Africa.