FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AG
TUESDAY, MARCH 3, 1998 (202) 616-2777
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUBMITS LEGISLATION TO COMBAT INTERNATIONAL MONEY LAUNDERING
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department today submitted legislation to Congress to address the international laundering of criminal proceeds, the "Money Laundering Act of 1998."
"This legislation recognizes that we need new tools to target money launderers, including international drug merchants," said Attorney General Janet Reno. The bill is part of an on-going Justice Department and Treasury Department effort to address issues related to international money laundering.
The bill would expand the list of "specified unlawful activities" which constitute the predicate offenses for money laundering to include an array of foreign crimes, including crimes of violence, terrorism, fraud and corruption. These changes will allow for the prosecution of those who commit such crimes in another country and attempt to launder the proceeds through U.S. institutions.
In addition, the bill would:
* make it possible to restrain the assets in the United States of a person arrested abroad, and to restrain the domestic assets of a foreign bank that is engaged in money laundering in violation of U.S. law.
* codify the fugitive disentitlement doctrine to bar a fugitive from contesting the forfeiture of his property while remaining outside the reach of federal law enforcement. This tool could be used with great effectiveness against foreign criminals who launder their money in the United States but remain safely overseas, resisting extradition.
* extend the money laundering statutes to reach transactions involving foreign banks and enhance federal prosecutors' access to foreign bank records and make them admissible in federal courts.
* strengthen U.S. money laundering laws by making it clear that a transaction involves criminal proceeds even if such proceeds have been commingled with other funds, and by allowing prosecutors to file money laundering charges in the district where the underlying criminal offense is being prosecuted.
"If enacted, this bill will enable the United States to combat the ability of criminals to launder the proceeds of their criminal activity without regard to international borders," Reno said.