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In Wake Of Attacks, France Moves To Regulate Prepaid Bank Cards

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin speaks about the financing of militant groups during a news conference Monday at the Bercy Economy and Finance Ministry in Paris.
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin speaks about the financing of militant groups during a news conference Monday at the Bercy Economy and Finance Ministry in Paris.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin told reporters Monday that the government will move to more rigorously regulate prepaid debit cards, which he said were used in preparation for the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris. He said the changes were necessary to restrict terrorists' ability to transfer and access money while remaining anonymous.

"The struggle against terrorism ... is first and foremost [for us] a struggle against its financing," Sapin said, according to The Financial Times.

Currently, users can refill prepaid bank cards without having to show identification unless more than 2,500 euros (about $2,660) is added over one year, the FT says. Single-use cars have a 250-euro threshold.

The announcement was part of a larger package of reforms. Sapin also wants more information sharing between European Union member states and also broader powers within the EU to freeze assets of suspected terrorists.

Bloomberg Business quotes Sapin as saying that terrorists want to "be completely untraceable" and that the way forward is to "tighten the links in the chain to make that more difficult."

The finance minister reportedly will outline the proposals at a meeting of European finance ministers Monday in Brussels. That city is currently under lockdown as authorities search for suspected extremists, including Salah Abdeslam, a 26-year-old Frenchman who is believed to have taken part in the attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people and injured hundreds more.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: November 23, 2015 at 11:00 PM CST
A previous version of this post misstated the exchange rate for 2,500 euros as $3,772. The rate is closer to $2,660.