PARIS -- In an effort to create standards of good conduct for the world economy, an international task force on Thursday issued the first list of countries and territories -- ranging from Caribbean islands to Russia and Israel -- that it accuses of facilitating money laundering.
''In this globalized world, it is so easy to move money around from one country to another,'' said Gil Galvao, a central banker from Portugal who is the panel's president. ''If you lose the ability to trace the money, the fight against money laundering will be impaired.''
The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering employed 25 criteria to determine which countries engage in ''detrimental rules and practices which impede international cooperation in the fight against money laundering.''
Suspect measures and actions include the absence of banking regulations, existence of anonymous accounts, secrecy provisions that cannot be lifted even for criminal investigations, and the lack of legislation making it criminal to launder proceeds from other serious crimes.
The countries and territories singled out by the task force, which is linked to the 29-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, are: Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, Dominica, Israel, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Panama, Philippines, Russia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The 15 areas came in for varying degrees of criticism. The government of the Cook Islands, a South Pacific archipelago and dependent territory of New Zealand, possesses ''no relevant information'' on the estimated 1,200 international companies registered there, the task force said in its report.
In contrast, though Israel currently lacks specific anti-money laundering laws, parliament is expected to pass legislation by the end of July, the task force found. But even then, it said, there will be inadequate provision for cooperation with the financial intelligence units of other governments.
The task force's list is one of the mechanisms being developed by international institutions to foster standards for the increasingly interlocked and fast-moving global economy.
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