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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (April 27, 2001 – Marshall Islands Journal)---The Marshall Islands has a new banking commissioner who, after just 10 days on the job, is already laying the groundwork for establishing "defenses" against money laundering in the RMI.

Alfred Alfred, Jr. was officially named banking commissioner on April 18, according to Finance Minister Mike Konelios. He is also commissioner for trusts.

One of the top priorities on Alfred’s agenda is working to get the Marshalls’ off the blacklists issued by the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

"The legal framework (to prevent money laundering) is in place," Alfred said. "What we need is to develop an implementation plan to translate the legal framework into a workable plan."

While the blacklisting of the Marshalls is a negative development in the short term, Alfred sees it as good for the long term because it has stimulated the RMI to "build defenses."

"I’ll be working on two fronts," Alfred said. "I’ll be addressing the FATF/OECD blacklist issues and also supervising domestic banking."

Local banks, he said, are the first line of defense against money laundering.

"We’ll be working with them to insure that information is going to the right people," he said. Two of the three local banks already have what is called a "currency transaction report" that lists all transactions above $10,000, and the banking office will be working with the third local bank to get a similar reporting system into place.

The "ultimate goal is to demonstrate that the Marshalls financial system is stable," he said. "A weak financial system is a threat to stability and growth and development of the economy."

The banking commission is going to be working with the Attorney General, police commissioner, and the Trust Company in developing the plan to implement the recently passed banking law and its anti money laundering provisions, he said.

Before taking on the new post Alfred was the economic advisor at the Japanese Embassy in Majuro for four years.

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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