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G8 leaders stand together against international crime

Financial Post, Weekly edition, Tuesday, May 19, 1998

An important practical thrust taken by leaders of the world's largest economies at their G8 Birmingham summit last weekend was launching an aggressive new fight against organized international crime.

Summit host British Prime Minister Tony Blair rightly put organized transnational crime such as drug smuggling, money laundering, counterfeiting, firearms trafficking, and high-tech computer fraud high on the agenda.

The leaders, including Prime Minister Jean Chretien, were given a chilling briefing from the head of Britain's National Crime Squad. He told them 80% of the newly formed unit's investigations in the next year will have an international dimension.

Transnational crime is flourishing because of differences in national laws and secrecy provisions, the abolition of exchange controls, and the increasingly liberal and rapid movement of people, goods and money.

An estimated US$450 billion is sent around the world electronically every day. The laundering of "dirty money" through the international financial system is now said to be as much as $US500 billion a year -- and could be more.

The G8 leaders endorsed measures aimed at unprecedented levels of jurisdictional co-operation in detecting and prosecuting organized criminal activity. They include setting up a worldwide network of anti-money laundering agencies and ensuring more effective disclosure of suspicious financial transactions. Canada's bank reporting rules will be toughened, for instance.

There will also be a push for more adequate extradition procedures and improved access to cross-border evidence --- including the ability to take court testimony by satellite links.

The explosive growth of international crime constitutes a serious threat to individuals, businesses, and even the stability of some smaller economies.

President Boris Yeltsin of Russia, which itself has a monstrous problem with law-breaking, has offered to host a special conference next year on organized international crime. This would be extremely useful in building on commitments the G8 leaders made last weekend, which we hope they will implement quickly.

Source: This information is provided by the Financial Post.

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