20 January 2006
United States To Participate in Anti-Money-Laundering Conference
February 9 and 10 event in Miami offers guidance on U.S. money-laundering laws
By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- U.S. officials from the Department of Treasury, the Federal Reserve System, the Comptroller of the Treasury and other U.S. government agencies dealing with monetary matters will participate in a February 9-10 conference in Miami designed to help the financial industry comply with U.S. anti-money-laundering laws.
The conference is organized by the Florida International Bankers Association, a nonprofit corporation comprising 72 U.S. and foreign financial institutions that operate in Florida.
Money laundering is described as the processing of criminal proceeds to disguise their illegal origin. The illegal practice is said to be having a corrosive effect on the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Inter-American Development Bank has estimated that money-laundering transactions in the region at between 2.5 percent and 6.3 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Worldwide, money laundering is a $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion business per year, accounting for between 2 percent and 5 percent of global GDP, the IDB said. (See related article.)
The State Department said in its International Narcotics Control Strategy Report for 2005 that "money laundering poses international and national security threats through corruption of officials and legal systems, undermines free enterprise by crowding out the private sector, and threatens the financial stability of countries and the international free flow of capital." (The full text of the report is available on the State Department Web site.)
The U.S. officials scheduled to attend the Miami conference include William Langford, from the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, who will participate in a panel discussion on compliance with Section 312 of the USA Patriot Act.
The Patriot Act was passed to improve security in the United States following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Section 312 of that act requires U.S. financial institutions, among others, to detect and report instances of money laundering. (More information about Section 312 is available from the Federal Reserve System's Web site.)
Another panel will discuss the overall effect and benefits of regulations that have been passed by the U.S. Congress to prevent and detect money laundering and terrorist financing.
Announced participants on that panel include Bridget Neill, manager of the anti-money-laundering policy and compliance section for the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System. Also scheduled to participate on that panel are Daniel Stipano, deputy chief counsel at the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and John O'Hara, senior investigative counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.
The conference is expected to attract more than 700 people involved in financial matters from the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Among the groups supporting the conference are the Washington-based Caribbean-Central American Action, the Caribbean Association of Indigenous Banks, the Jamaica Bankers' Association, and the Bahamas-based Association of International Banks and Trust.
More information about the conference is available in the Florida International Bankers Association Web site.
For additional information on U.S. policy, see the electronic journal entitled The Fight Against Money Laundering.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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