London, June 15 : Secret British Government documents detailing the UK's policies towards fighting global terrorist funding, drugs trafficking and money laundering have been found on a London-bound train.
The government papers, left on a train destined for Waterloo station, on Wednesday, contain criticism of countries such as Iran that are signed up to the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body created to combat financial crime and the financing of terrorism.
The confidential files outline how the trade and banking systems can be manipulated to finance illicit weapons of mass destruction in Iran. They spell out methods to fund terrorists, and address the potential fraud of commercial websites and international Internet payment systems.
The files handed to The Independent also highlight the weakness of HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC) IT systems, which track financial fraud.
This latest security gaffe involving top-level government documents is the second breach in the past week and is hugely embarrassing to Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
The Government is already investigating the loss of other files by a senior intelligence officer in the Cabinet Office, who has been suspended. This official also left documents, containing a damning assessment of Iraqi forces and a Home Office report on "al-Qa'ida vulnerabilities", on a train. They were handed to the BBC.
The Government has been hit by a series of security breaches in the past year. HMRC lost two computer disks containing the personal details of 25 million people, while the details of three million driving-test candidates were mislaid.
Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, who is in Japan at the G8 meeting, has been told of the latest debacle, and his department insists steps are being taken to tighten security procedures.
The discovery of these confidential files is all the more embarrassing as they relate to a week-long global financial crime conference, organised by the FATF, which starts in London tomorrow.
Sir James Sassoon, the Treasury's ambassador to the City, is president of FATF, the Paris-based watchdog, which has 32 members around the world.