France and Germany seek to step up fight against militant financing

BERLIN: France and Germany pushed on Wednesday for Europe to speed up a crackdown on money laundering and said they would propose a package of new EU measures next week to cut off funding to militants.

Germany has vowed to show solidarity with France after the Nov. 13 militant Islamist attacks in Paris, in which 130 people were killed. Berlin plans to join the military campaign against Islamic State insurgents in Syria.

Visiting Berlin, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said attacks such as those in Paris last month could be financed with as little as 10,000-30,000 euros, with pre-paid bank cards an easy means of funding.

"We must fight every form of anonymity in funding flows," Sapin told reporters after meeting German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, adding that this included tackling the transportation of cash and precious metals across borders.

The ministers also aim to target means of payment such as web-based "cryptocurrency" bitcoin, and they want to extend money laundering rules to include the art trade, as some Islamic State sales of stolen art are made to European investors.

Sapin said it remained important to destroy Islamic State-controlled oil production facilities from which the group gains revenue.

He and Schaeuble plan to push for an EU money laundering directive to be implemented into national legislation in all EU member states before the existing deadline of mid-2017.

"That has to move forward more quickly," said Sapin.