Money laundering injures Russia’s reputation

Now, the Russian authorities have one more “cursed” question: will Russia be excluded from “black list” of FATF Financial Action Task Force) or not? If Russia is excluded, then when? It should be reminded that Russia got to this infamous list in 2000. Moscow, of course, was offended, though it did not protested so much, because the problem of money laundering was known to everybody. It should have been solved in some way, not to be left in the list for ever. Although Hungary and Israel also got to the FATF list, this circumstance hardly could console Russia, all the more that Hungary will be most likely excluded from the list at the next sitting of FATF forum in Paris, June 19-21.

Russia also expected something from this forum. Within recent two years, Moscow did certain steps to better the situation. It rapidly passed a law about counteraction of money laundering. A Financial Monitoring Committee was created, which at once was called “financial intelligence.” Just on the threshold of the FATF forum, the “intelligence” workers presented first results of its activity. “Over 10 cases were handed over to law-enforcement bodies, while 50 more are being investigated by the financial intelligence,” – Yury Chikhanchin, first deputy chairman of the Committee said. FATF seems to be positive as for the Russian financial intelligence activity. At least, June 6, the Russian Committee was included into Egmonde international group, which is a kind of financial Interpol including financial intelligence of 59 countries.

Though, a week later, a scandal tool place, which will most likely delay Russia’ exclusion from the black list. During the Spider Web operation carried out by European special services, a big international criminal web was liquidated, organized by former Russian and CIS citizens. The web members are being accused of money laundering, drug smuggling and illegal weapon traffic. Moreover, according to the investigation, a part of the means obtained in this illegal way was invested in Chechen militants who are in their turn suspected of connection with Al-Qaida. In the meanwhile, FATF is preparing one more “black list” to include countries which do not oppose financial terrorism. While the operation of European special services could seriously injure Russia’s reputation.

Was it by chance or not, but the Spider Web was stretch out namely on the threshold of the Paris FATF session. It is very possible that this operation will have no results. At least, the recent stir around Bank of New York comes to the mind. In 1999, there were many talks about Russian Mafia. And what was the end of the story? Actually, the story ended with nothing. At that time, that were Americans who plaid the first violin in the stir around Russian Mafia. And this time, that are Europeans (first of all, Italians, who, probably understand the question). There was even a version that the Spider Web was nothing more than Europe’s answer to Russia’s rapprochement with America. European Union seems to dislike this kind of evolution and decided to answer. However, not only European special services took part in the operation, but FBI, too. However that may be, but now Russian officials do not expect something from the Paris forum. Now, Russia could hope for being excluded from the FATF black list only in October, when this organization’s next summit takes place. It is annoying, of course, though, not so much time is left till October…

Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Vera Solovieva

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