Citing pending legislation, Israel said Friday it hopes it will soon be removed from a black list of 15 countries suspected of failing to cooperate in the international fight against money laundering, reported The Associated Press
Israeli law enforcement officials have acknowledged that international money laundering is a multibillion dollar problem in the Jewish state, said the agency.
A top police investigator recently called Israel “the promised land for money laundering” because it has no law making it illegal to handle funds from organized crime that are invested in legitimate businesses as launderings.
Israel's justice minister, Yossi Beilin, hopes to change that, said the AP.
The government has sponsored legislation requiring banks and financial institutions to report large transactions. Violators could face several years in prison.
The bill has passed two readings in parliament and is expected to win final approval in July, before the Knesset goes into summer recess, said legislator Zipi Livni, who chaired a subcommittee on money laundering.
On Thursday, a high-level international task force named Israel as one of 15 countries suspected of failing to cooperate in the fight against money laundering.
Task force president Gil Galvao was quoted by the agency as saying the group would advise countries on the list on how to strengthen laws and monitoring aimed at reducing money laundering.
The report called on international financial institutions to pay special attention to all transactions involving the “non-cooperative” countries and territories on the list, which also includes Russia and a number of Caribbean island nations.
Livni, the legislator, said Friday that she hoped Israel would soon be stricken from the black list. “I hope that when they (the members of the task force) get the information that we are at the end of the legislative process, they will take us off the list,” she said.
Maj. Gen. Yossi Sedbon, Israel's top police investigator of money laundering schemes, said that even if the legislation is passed, it might take three years to set up a data base to following illicit financial transactions.
Sedbon has blamed Israel's immigration policies for part of the problem. Jews get automatic citizenship here. With an Israeli passport, a courier can enter many countries without a visa, according to the AP – Albawaba.com
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