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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (July 19, 2000 – Marshall Islands Journal)---The Republic of the Marshall Islands is not an open financial center with a large number of banking institutions, the government said in a press release responding to being placed a blacklist by the Financial Action ask Force. In reality, the Marshall Islands has three onshore banks and no offshore banks. Two of three banks are U.S. FIDC insured. As such, there has been no reliable evidence of money laundering activity in the Marshall Islands, the RMI said.

The Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands is aware of the issues involved and the international effort to combat money laundering and has taken the following preventative measures during the past few months:

· Anti-money laundering legislation proposed by the Ministry of Justice and currently being vetted by multiple government agencies will be before the Republic of the Marshall Islands Nitijela (Parliament) at its August 2000 session. The new law will introduce criminalization of money laundering, suspension of questionable banking transactions, assistance with international money laundering investigations, a system for reporting suspicious transactions and stiff sanctions for such violations.

· The Republic of the Marshall Islands disclosed information provided by the Banking Commissioner, Attorney General, three commercial banks, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Finance to a FATF questionnaire.

· A Republic of the Marshall Islands delegation participated in a recent Asia Pacific Group Annual Meeting on money laundering in Sydney, Australia and at the same time provided additional information to the FATF Asia Pacific Review Group on Money Laundering of the G7.

These measures will strengthen the Republic of the Marshall Islands anti-money laundering regime and the Marshall Islands Government is committed for their full implementation.

In light of these facts, the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands is surprised and equally disappointed by its inclusion as a "non-cooperating" nation, the government said.

The Marshall Islands Journal, Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail:  Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year US $87.00; international $213.00 (air mail).

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