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The PA’s extreme measures to reward terrorists

Maurice Hirsch, Adv.  |
  • BPC Banking Technologies is not involved in payment of PA terror rewards

Last month, Palestinian Media Watch exposed that the Palestinian Authority had initiated a new system to pay its monthly terror salaries using ATM machines. PMW found that a company called BPC Banking Technologies provided the technological infrastructure used by the PA to facilitate its banking system. Fearing that BPC was unaware of the PA’s illegitimate usage of its technologies, PMW contacted BPC. To its credit, BPC responded swiftly to PMW, updating that it had sent PMW’s report to the PA to “officially clarify” the situation.  Having received the requested clarification, BPC provided a comprehensive response to PMW. While clearing BPC of all involvement, active or passive, in the PA scheme, BPC’s response exposed the extent to which the PA is willing to go in order to continue is “Pay-for-Slay” terror reward policy.

Alongside providing technical details of the “out-of-scope” contractual arrangement between BPC and the PA, in its response BPC included a quote from a letter it had received from the Palestinian Monetary Authority (PMA) following PMW’s report.

According to the response, the “PMA confirmed by official response to BPC Group dated July 26th that “ATM machines installed at the post offices are not connected to the switches, banking network and any of the banks supervised and regulated by PMA”.

When the PA launched the new payment system, the PA Minister of Communications and IT Is’haq Sidr said:

“We have activated an entire banking mechanism here that is a cash management system that transfers data between us and the ATMs. We have installed 20 ATMs in the residential areas where the beneficiaries of these services are located, and Allah willing we will reach 30 ATMs in the coming days.”

When combined with the PMA answer to BPC, what this means is that the PA knew and understood that it could not use any existing banking infrastructure, and that when Sidr said the PA had “activated an entire banking mechanism here that is a cash management system that transfers data between us and the ATMs,” he was speaking literally.

Instead of investing in health, education, social welfare or other fields, the PA has clearly invested huge sums of money in order to develop a new banking program that links designated ATM cards and machines – which do not sit on the banking mainframe – to the PA accounts. The linked PA accounts must also not sit on the banking mainframe.

While the PMA answer may suffice BPC and provide it with the “plausible deniability” it needs, it would appear, once again, that the PA is literally fulfilling the promise of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, when he declared that if there is only one penny left in the coffers of the PA, he will spend it first on the terrorists.

PA TV Narrator: “Despite the blackmail, he defends the right of the Martyrs, the wounded, and the prisoners.”

Abbas: “A blessing is sent to our loyal Martyrs, our prisoners, and their families who are standing firm and bearing their suffering with patience. We say to them, to the families of the Martyrs, that we will defend their rights regardless of the price we’ll have to pay. I won’t submit to what Israel has requested. I won’t submit. Even if I’m left with one penny, I’ll pay it to the families of the Martyrs, to the prisoners, and to the wounded, and I won’t withhold this from them.”

[Official PA TV, June 4 (twice), 5 (twice), 6 (four times), 9 (twice), 11 (twice), 12, 15, 16 (twice), 18, 19,20, 22, 26, 28, 30, July 2, 3 (twice), 4, 6, 7, 8, 13 (twice), 17 (twice) 23, 26 2021]

The following is the full response PMW received from BPC:

Dear Sirs,

We refer to your letter DD July 20th, 2021 « Use of BPC technologies to fund and reward terror» containing information on possible involvement of BPC-owned software into “Pay-for-Slay” policy of one of BPC AG clients, Palestine Monetary Authority (hereinafter referred to as PMA), allegedly paying allowances to the families of terrorists. Palestinian Media Watch stated that PMA is currently using «BPC technology to operate its National Switch system and the designated ATMs through which is now making the payments. By providing the terrorists and their families with ATM cards that are based on BPC processing technology, in the knowledge that the terrorists and their accounts are personae non gratae in the commercial banking world, the PA has intentionally dragged BPC into the PA’s terror reward program.»

Thank you for bringing it to our attention, BPC Group has zero tolerance against terrorism, we condemn terrorism in all its form and manifestation and are eager to help and identify any related financing channels.

We would like to hereby inform your reputable organization that we contacted the client and investigated the matter, please find below BPC official response:

1.        BPC AG (Switzerland) entered into Contract Agreement with Palestine Monetary Authority in 2013 and successfully implemented the Palestine National Switch project (hereinafter referred to as Switch) based on BPC-owned SmartVista software products for supporting online and offline financial processing of VISA, MasterCard, local proprietary Palestine magnetic stripe and EMV standard plastic cards.

2.        Following functionalities are out-of-scope under the stated Contract Agreement and FSD (Functional Specifications Document) of the project which is currently at post-implementation support stage:

2.1      Direct connection of any terminals (POS/ATM) to PNPS and as a result no acquiring related functionality (servicing of merchants and their terminals);

2.2      Card issuing and card production in PNPS on behalf of Members, and as a result no issuing functionality is to be supported (fees, limits, card products set-up);

2.3      Stand-in functionality;

2.4      Implementation of a Payment Gateway for processing eCommerce transactions (only online interface to external Payment Gateway will be provided).

3.        PMA confirmed by official response to BPC Group dated July 26th that “ATM machines installed at the post offices are not connected to the switches, banking network and any of the banks supervised and regulated by PMA”.

Therefore, please be informed that BPC software and technologies shall not be referenced in relation to PMA’s “Pay-for-Slay” policy and funding of terrorism worldwide. Contract Agreement with PMA includes anti-bribery, anti-money laundering, anti-terror financing provisions of Swiss and UK legislation and applicable regulations which are in force in case any similar incident with BPC software occurs. BPC being IT provider (i.e. software products and services provider) is responsible for Know-Your-Customer (KYC) due diligence and is liable within the scope of contractual arrangement, within warranties and quality assurance given to the client only. BPC is not liable to third parties, customer’s clients or end users that may be using or connected to BPC software after implementation and any such liability to third parties is expressly disclaimed by contract and applicable laws. SmartVista software is intended to be used for peaceful purposes only.

We kindly request to remove any reference to BPC Group in relation to BPC software and technologies used to fund terror as such allegations are of defamatory nature and may form a defamation case.

We strongly believe that these grounds are sufficient to remove all related articles from Palestinian Media Watch web-site and from any other related social media. Please arrange to send this notice to all key stakeholders.

 

Respectfully yours,

 

BPC Group