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Task Force Issues Report Card on Money Laundering - 2001-09-08

An international task force threatened the governments of Nauru and the Philippines with unspecified sanctions Friday if they failed to crack down on money laundering. The task force released its latest report in Paris.

The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force praised progress made in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin signed tough new anti-money laundering legislation in August.

Overall, said task force secretary, Patrick Moulette, most members have made clear progress in fighting money laundering over the past year. But Mr. Moulette noted that key exceptions remained. In particular, the group gave the Philippines until the end of this month, and the Pacific island republic of Nauru until November 30 to enact appropriate legislation against money laundering.

The group also added Ukraine and the Grenada to a 20-member list of problem countries and territories. Others on the list include Egypt, Israel, Hungary and Nigeria.

In the Philippines, President Gloria Arroyo expressed concern that her country would face payment delays by international bankers as part of anti-money laundering controls.

The Financial Action Task Force has 31 members, including most of the world's developed nations, plus the European Commission and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The financial task force is fighting a sizable problem: The International Monetary Fund estimates money laundering accounts for between $590 billion and $1.5 trillion - or as much as five percent of the world's economic output. Money laundering is often linked to organized crime such as drug trafficking, prostitution, embezzlement and computer fraud schemes.

The task force will issue its next progress report when it meets in Tokyo next year.