Money laundering to be hung out to dry

  • 1999-07-08
  • By Kairi Kurm
TALLINN - All shady transactions exceeding 100,000 kroons ($7,143) in cash and 200,000 kroons in noncash are being checked by the police since July 1.

The Estonian government established an anti-laundering data bureau after the money-laundering prevention act came into force at the beginning of this month.

According to the law, the anti- laundering bureau can stop transactions for 48 hours in order to receive an approval from court to confiscate shady assets.

"Forty-eight hours is a short time of course, but the international money-laundering convention, which was signed on July 2 will help in this matter," said Arnold Tenusaar, head of the anti- laundering bureau.

Latvia and Lithuania have already merged with the international convention, which obliges them to fight against depositing and investing money which comes from illegal trading with weapons and drugs, terrorism and bogus trading.

"Until July 1 money-laundering was not a crime in Estonia, " said Tenusaar. He said that there have been a few laundering cases in Estonia and these have mostly been related to international cases that Interpol has been dealing with.

"According to the new law all financial and credit institutions are obliged to identify clients dealing with over a certain amount of money. Sometimes there are several smaller transactions related to each other which have to be checked," said Tenusaar.

Insurance and gambling are two of the most popular ways to launder money, according to Tenusaar." Money comes in one way and is paid out the other way. Transactions exceeding 35,000 kroons, which are related to insurance, have to be analyzed.".

Tenusaar will run the bureau, which employs two policemen and a banking specialist. The supervisory body of the central bank will also take care of money-laundering prevention.