SAMOA SUSPECTED AS MONEY LAUNDERING HAVEN

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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (June 30, 2000 – PIDP/CPIS)---The Government of Samoa is cooperating with U.S. authorities in investigating allegations that SAT$ 30 million (approximately US$ 10 million) from money laundering schemes has been deposited in the Independent State, said Papalii T. Scanlan, Governor and Chief Executive Officer of the government-owned Central Bank of Samoa.

The American Samoa-based intelligence arm of the South Pacific Police Commissions Association, called the South Pacific Islands Criminal Intelligence Network (SPICIN), is also aware that some business people from the territory are allegedly involved in this transaction.

Papalii said the "mattter is under investigation by the United States authorities and us hee in Samoa" and could not provide detailed information at this stage.

 Samoa's Office of Registrar of International and Foreign Companies also refused to comment on the specifics of the case.

"The Governor’s legal counsel and our office are working with the federal authorities concerning money laundering or illicit financial schemes that once again victimize our people," said SPICIN Executive Director Mike Sala.

The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force released a report last week on tax haven countries.  Although Samoa was dropped from the list of suspects, the report requested that the country tighten up its practices.

"(The latest FATF report) is an indication that Samoa takes its role as a responsible member of the international community seriously," Papalii said. "In compliance with benchmark requirements of the FATF on money laundering, our country has introduced anti-money laundering legislation, enacted as of June 14."

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