ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING BILL APPROVED BY NAURU PARLIAMENT

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YAREN, Nauru (August 28, 2001 - Nauru Media Bureau/PINA Nius Online)---Nauru's President Rene Harris has thanked Parliament for supporting the successful passage of anti-money laundering legislation.

President Harris also thanked international organizations that helped prepare the bill, and warned of the dangers caused to Nauru's reputation by those behind money laundering.

Nauru is among several small island state tax havens and offshore finance centers, which have come under pressure from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), linking some of the richest nations.

The Pacific Islands finance centers have said they will move against money laundering. But they have said they will continue to oppose moves by rich countries to restrict their tax havens and offshore banking businesses, which are important income sources for small island states.

President Harris told Parliament:

"For too long undesirable elements have exploited the banking system in Nauru. Now those days are gone.

"This legislation we have passed brings to an end to the practices that have tarnished the name of Nauru in the international community for far too long.

"This legislation we passed today has been developed through the contributions and input from a number of international organizations.

"The original Bill was based on a Commonwealth model drafted in 1995 but we had to bring the legislation up to date.

"We had to make sure this legislation could properly deal with those undesirable elements that conduct money-laundering activities in the year 2001.

"The people behind money laundering activities between places like Russia and the United States use very sophisticated technology to cover up their activities.

"This legislation we have passed today is amongst the strongest in the region and has been improved to counter increases in technology over the past six years.

"This government has also asked for technical assistance from the Commonwealth and other international organisations to assist us in the implementation of this legislation.

"Money laundering is a scourge of the international financial community.

"We here in Nauru are doing our best to ensure the expectations of the OECD and the Financial Action Task Force are met.

"Now that we have passed the Bill, we are establishing the regulatory body to supervise the activities of registered offshore banks operating in the Republic of Nauru.

"We thank the international organisations that have assisted Nauru in reaching the point we are at today.

"In particular the Commonwealth Secretariat has assisted Nauru greatly in preparing the technical details for this legislation."

During this month's Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru President Harris criticized OECD moves against other areas of the offshore finance centers, such as their tax business.

"The small islands of this world do not have much in terms of natural resources and industry," he said.

"It is alarming that now that we have identified a viable, legitimate and competitive economic opportunity, the rich states of this world have labeled it harmful competition simply because the rich countries choose not to compete.

"Instead of assisting small islands to harness our competitive advantage and economic opportunity, the developed states want to shut it down."

The Pacific needed to show unity, he said.

He added: "When the developed states are condemning us we must stand together in unity on this issue and defend our rights."

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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