COOK ISLANDS GOVERNMENT WARNED TO TIGHTEN MONEY LAUNDERING LAWS

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RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (December 21, 1999 – Radio Australia)---The Cook Islands has been warned to improve its anti-money laundering laws to protect its financial industry from being exploited by money launderers.

Two years ago, the Cook Islands passed an act setting up an Office of the Commissioner of Offshore Financial Services.

Other laws define money laundering as a crime, but the Cook Islands currently has no specific anti-money laundering laws.

The U.S. Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs has released a report describing the Cook Islands as "of concern."

Two weeks ago, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) raised concerns that Nauru and Niue were seen as a serious threat to the world banking system.

It alleged Nauru and Niue were being used by Russian mafia and South American drug cartels as money laundering centers.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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