Eizenstat: Launder Efforts Will Live On

By Garver, Rob | American Banker, November 17, 2000 | Go to article overview

Eizenstat: Launder Efforts Will Live On


Garver, Rob, American Banker


Confidence is an uncommon commodity among political appointees here these days.

As the presidential candidates wrangle over vote counts in Florida, concern for legislation and policy initiatives has been eclipsed by anxiety over keeping jobs after Jan. 20.

But even though he is not sure he will be with the Treasury Department next year, deputy secretary Stuart E. Eizenstat said he is sure of this: The anti-money-laundering initiatives he has helped to craft as part of the Clinton administration are here to stay.

Mr. Eizenstat, a soft-spoken Georgian who served for four years as President Carter's chief domestic policy adviser, has been central to the development of the Clinton administration's national strategy on money laundering. Among other things, he has overseen the launch of several initiatives for combating the spread of dirty money in this country, including identification and monitoring of so-called high-intensity financial crime areas.

Internationally, he has played a key role in the development of the "name and shame" program devised by the Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental anti-money-laundering group in Paris. In June the task force released a list of 15 countries that were either unwilling or unable to control the flow of illicit funds through their financial systems.

"This issue has developed such international momentum, and the U.S. has been such a leader ... that I don't think any new administration would want to be seen as turning its back or dropping the ball in leading this effort," Mr. Eizenstat said in an interview the day after Election Day.

"We have worked so hard to get this on the international agenda," he said. "It is such an obvious threat to the financial integrity of our own system, and such an obvious problem in that it provides the fuel that fires the engines of international narco-terrorists, criminal gangs, and those that threaten our country, that I would hope any incoming administration would continue this as the bipartisan effort which it has been."

Experts on money laundering, such as American Bankers Association senior counsel John J. Byrne, say that while a new administration will try to place its stamp on ongoing efforts to combat dirty money, the general aim of the current administration's strategy will probably survive.

"Many elements of the strategy made a lot of sense," Mr. Byrne said. "In general, focus on the items outlined in the administration's strategy will continue. …

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