Russia rewarded for battling dirty money

  • 2002-10-17

Russia said on Oct. 11 that a decision by the Financial Action Task Force to remove it from a list of countries considered lax in the fight against dirty money was a reward for its efforts against crime and terrorism.

The F.A.T.F. announced in Paris that it had decided to remove Russia from a list of a dozen countries considered havens for criminals, tax dodgers and organizations channeling money to terrorists.

Welcoming the decision, government spokesman Alexei Gorshkov said the Russian authorities had taken firm action to have itself removed from the list, "both at the legislative and the executive level."

"We believe this decision will do a lot to improve the investment image of our country," the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

Another official, first Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Kolotukhin, said Russia's removal from the list would also eventually help Moscow borrow money at lower interest rates from investors.

"In the long run, this will imply cheaper borrowing," Kolotukhin told the Interfax news agency.

F.A.T.F. President Jochen Sanio hailed the removal of Russia from the list as "a great success for Russia and the international community in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing," he said.

The F.A.T.F. decision was also being seen as a reward to President Vladimir Putin for his prompt assistance to the United States when it launched an anti-terrorist drive in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks last year.

Russia has devoted considerable resources over the past year and a half to getting itself removed from the list.

Kolotukhin said the decision had been agreed with finance ministers at Group of Eight meetings where "G-8 members praised Russia's progress in combating the legalisation of criminal proceeds."

A F.A.T.F. team which visited Moscow last month noticed "significant progress" by Russia in its fight against money laundering.

Russia last month stiffened its legislation against dubious financial operations with a series of amendments extending financial controls to such activities as the sale and purchase of precious stones and metals, and the allocation of large jackpots in games and lotteries.

The list of organizations which must report to a new committee of financial surveillance, created under an anti-money laundering law which became effective last February, was enlarged to include enterprises dealing in precious stones and metals and the gaming industry.

In other action at the end of a three-day plenary meeting in Paris, the 29-member F.A.T.F. said it had removed Dominica, Niue and the Marshall Islands from its non-cooperative list "in light of the progress they have made in improving their anti-money laundering systems."

The current list of non-cooperative countries groups: Cook Islands, Egypt, Grenada, Guatemala, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nigeria, the Philippines, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Ukraine.

The task force said it would review the list again at its next plenary meeting February 12-14, 2003.