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Cablegate: Morocco - Follow-Up On Illicit Cash Couriers

VZCZCXRO1511
RR RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHRB #1719 3121332
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 081332Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7728
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA 3660
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

UNCLAS RABAT 001719

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EEB, S/CT, INL, AND NEA/MAG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EFIN ETTC KCRM PTER KTFN MO
SUBJECT: MOROCCO - FOLLOW-UP ON ILLICIT CASH COURIERS

REF: SECSTATE 152088

1. (SBU) The U.S. mission in Morocco continues to pursue the
expansion and enhancement of counterterrorism (CT)
cooperation with the GOM, which includes combating terrorism
finance, cash couriers, and money laundering. Post's CT
working group coordinates numerous CT related programs
managed by the Export Control and Related Border Security
(EXBS) program, INL, S/CT, DOD, FBI, and GRPO (among others).
All seek to strengthen Morocco's ability to monitor and
enforce its borders.

2. (SBU) Although the full extent of cash smuggling problem
in Morocco is unknown, it is known to occur due to Morocco's
narcotics trade, vast informal sector, and the large level of
remittances from Moroccans living abroad. Since the
Casablanca bombings of 2003, Morocco has taken a series of
steps to address the problem, most notably the implementation
of a comprehensive anti-money laundering (AML) bill in May
2007 and the establishment of a Financial Intelligence Unit
(FIU), expected to become operational in Rabat in early 2008.
The AML law draws heavily from recommendations made by the
Financial Action Task Force (FATF), criminalizes cash
smuggling, and provides the legal basis for the government to
monitor, investigate, and prosecute illicit financial
activity. Beginning with the law's enactment on May 15, all
persons entering Morocco must declare cash amounts equal to
or greater than 100,000 Dirhams (approximately USD 12,800).
Maximum criminal penalties for cash smuggling include a
prison sentence of 2-5 years and a fine of up to 5 times the
confiscated amount. There is no requirement for declaring
currency when exiting the country.

3. (SBU) Enforcement of the new law is the biggest issue.
Our contacts at Moroccan Customs tell us there have been over
1,000 cash declarations exceeding 100,000 Dirhams made at
Casablanca airport since the law's enactment. Although
Moroccan Customs have discovered "numerous" instances of
"hidden" cash at ports of entry, they tell us the vast
majority have been under the 100,000 Dirham threshold. One
notable exception was the seizure of 700,000 Euros at the
border to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in September, which
has been forwarded for prosecution.

4. (SBU) Post continues to pursue a number of efforts to
increase Moroccan capability to detect and seize illicit cash
smuggling, and to support establishment of an FIU. In April
2007, Post arranged for 5 Central Bank officials to attend
AML training at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
(FDIC), and in October 2007 over 60 Moroccan customs agents
and border security officials attended a Bulk Cash Smuggling
course in Rabat, presented by U.S. Customs and Border
Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE). Upcoming programmed training also includes courses on
targeting and risk-assessment, designed to help Moroccan
customs agents better detect smuggling.


*****************************************
Visit Embassy Rabat's Classified Website;
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/rabat
*****************************************

Jackson

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