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NAURU (Radio Australia, Mar. 27) - Nauru's parliament has passed legislation abolishing the country's controversial offshore banks.

The legislation provides for most existing licenses to expire in 30 days, including those of Russian-owned banks that are alleged to have laundered billions of dollars in the past 10 years.

Offshore banks owned by American, Australian, New Zealand and European Union member interests will be given six months to close down.

The new banking legislation was promised by late president Bernard Dowiyogo before he died of heart failure in the U.S. on March 9.

Parliament has also passed additional anti-money laundering legislation and has adopted Nauru's 2003 budget, clearing the way for parliament to dissolve for fresh elections on May 3.

March 28, 2003

Radio Australia:

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