NAURU REFUSES TO BOW TO BANKING PRESSURE

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YAREN, Nauru (March 19, 2001 - Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---Government officials said no amount of pressure from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will force it to close its offshore banking services.

Nauru, together with five other Pacific Island countries, has been blacklisted by the OECD for allegedly running money-laundering centers.

The OECD issued a July 31 deadline to the so-called "non-cooperating nations" to clean up their banking systems.

However, some countries - including the Cook Islands - are refusing to budge.

"We’re not ready to shut down (the financial centers)," said Nauru's Economic Affairs Minister Kinza Clodmar. "We don’t even know what defensive measures they will take."

Clodmar said international concerns about money laundering were tackled at an OECD workshop in Tokyo last month.

"They want to see legislation specifically for anti-money laundering," Clodmar said. "It has taken us a bit of time to get it through, but it is now finished in draft form ready for Parliament."

He said the real challenge will be implementing the proposals.

"We’re dealing with OECD office boys who cannot make decisions. That’s the most frustrating aspect of it," he said.

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

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