A CORPORATE DATABASE used by banks and other institutions to screen clients for crimes such as money laundering and terror financing has labeled dozens of U.S. citizens as connected to terrorism on the basis of outdated or unsubstantiated allegations. An analysis of a 2014 copy of the database, which is known as World-Check, also indicates that many thousands of people, including children, were listed on the basis of tenuous links to crime or to politically prominent persons.
The database relied on allegations stemming from right-wing Islamophobic websites to categorize under “terrorism” people and groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, several mosques, and national and regional Islamic organizations.
Political activists also had World-Check listings originating from old, minor infractions. For instance, 16 Greenpeace activists who were arrested for protesting the “Star Wars” missile-defense program in 2001 were listed under the general “crime” category, though they ultimately pleaded guilty to misdemeanor trespassing and never served time.
World-Check, which is owned by Thomson Reuters, contains over 2 million entries, most of them for people who are in government, on international sanctions lists, or have convictions for financial crimes. Thomson Reuters claims that World-Check is a risk-assessment tool, not a blacklist, and that a listing is not necessarily meant to imply wrongdoing.