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16 June 1998

United States Information Service Washington File

11 June 1998


(Drug-money sting operation has resulted in seizure of $100 million)

WASHINGTON -- "Money laundering is the life support system of
sophisticated international criminal enterprises," says Treasury
Department Under Secretary for Enforcement Raymond Kelly. "The better
we are at tracking dirty money, the better our ability to bring down
the leaders of drug trafficking and other criminal groups."

Testifying June 11 before the House Committee on Banking and Financial
Services, Kelly provided a broad description of Operation Casablanca,
the three-year drug money laundering investigation conducted by
undercover agents of the Justice and Treasury Departments. The sting
operation implicated several Mexican banks in its probe of the
financial infrastructure of the Cali and Juarez drug cartels,
resulting in the arrest of 167 people and the seizure of roughly $100

"We expect further arrests and seizures in this investigation," Kelly

While the exposure of Mexican bankers' complicity in laundering vast
sums of drug money has strained diplomatic relations between the
United States and Mexico, Kelly vigorously defended the investigation.
"We believe that Operation Casablanca represents a significant step
forward to curb money laundering," he said. "However, it is only the
most recent example of law enforcement's efforts to close off U.S. and
foreign money laundering systems used by drug traffickers and other

Following is the text of Kelly's remarks, as prepared for delivery:

(begin text)

Text as Prepared for Delivery

June 11, 1998


                              RAYMOND W. KELLY


Chairman Leach, Mr. LaFalce, members of the Committee, it is a
pleasure to be here today to speak about a top priority of President
Clinton, Secretary Rubin, Attorney General Reno, and the Congress --
the federal government's efforts to combat money laundering.

Treasury Department enforcement bureaus and offices are responsible
for significant elements of this fight. The U.S. Customs Service, the
Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service
(IRS-CI), the U.S. Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms are charged with investigating money laundering in cases
where the underlying criminal act lies within their core jurisdiction.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network -- FinCEN -- is charged with
administering the Bank Secrecy Act, which prescribes transaction
reporting and record-keeping requirements for financial institutions
designed to insulate those institutions from money laundering, and to
provide a paper trail for investigators. FinCEN also serves as the
central point for collection and analysis of Bank Secrecy Act data,
providing case support to law enforcement investigations. The Office
of Foreign Assets Control is responsible for implementing sanctions
against nations determined to be a threat to the national security,
economy or foreign policy of the United States, pursuant to the
International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), including
sanctions aimed at the Colombian drug cartels. Treasury enforcement
agencies work closely with one another, other law enforcement
agencies, the Department of Justice, and with the Federal Reserve, the
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and other regulators as part
of a comprehensive attack on money launderers and their underlying
criminal activities.

Operation Casablanca

The impact these entities can have on money laundering is reflected in
the Customs Service's recently concluded Operation Casablanca, the
largest drug money laundering investigation in U.S. history. Although
I cannot discuss the case in detail because the investigation and
prosecutions are ongoing, I will provide a brief description of the
operation based on information which has already been made public.

Prior to 1995, agents in Customs' Los Angeles Office had information
that drug cartel members were laundering narcotics proceeds through
branches of Mexican banks along the border. Operation Casablanca began
in earnest in November 1995, after undercover agents participated in a
money laundering transaction involving high-level money launderers for
the Cali and Juarez cartels. The investigation then expanded to
include the financial infrastructure of the Juarez Cartel, including
its money manager Victor Alcala Navarro, and a principal in the
cartel, Jose Alvarez Tostado.

The investigation targeted both the financial infrastructure of the
Juarez and Cali cartels and the financial systems used by these
cartels to launder their U.S. drug proceeds. During the course of this
investigation, undercover agents posed as money launderers for the
cartels and met with Mexican and Venezuelan bankers who were willing
to launder the cartels' illicit funds. These bankers established bogus
accounts and would issue bank drafts to avoid anti-money laundering
regulations. As a result of this investigation, indictments were
brought against members of the Juarez and Cali Cartels and their
financial brokers and bankers. One indictment charged 26 Mexican bank
officials and three Mexican banks -- CONFIA, BANCOMER, and BANCA
SERFIN – with money laundering.

To date, Operation Casablanca has resulted in the arrest of 167
individuals and the seizure of approximately $100 million. We expect
further arrests and seizures in this investigation.

We believe that Operation Casablanca represents a significant step
forward to curb money laundering. However, it is only the most recent
example of law enforcement's efforts to close off U.S. and foreign
money laundering systems used by drug traffickers and other criminals.
Today, I want to speak about all aspects of Treasury's fight against
money laundering -- a three-pronged strategy aimed at preventing money
laundering through regulation, detecting money laundering through
investigation, and deterring money laundering through international
efforts. Before I discuss our efforts, however, I want to briefly
discuss the challenges we are confronting.

The Money Laundering Threat

Money laundering is the life support system of sophisticated
international criminal enterprises. The ability to sanitize ill-gotten
gains permits drug trafficking and other criminal groups to
perpetuate, and live lavishly from, their illegal activity. But, as
Casablanca demonstrates, money laundering provides a point of
vulnerability for these organizations. Indeed, the steps which
criminal groups must take to lend the appearance of legitimacy to
their illicit profits, provide us with an invaluable opportunity to
attack the criminal organizations themselves. The better we are at
tracking dirty money, the better our ability to bring down the leaders
of drug trafficking and other criminal groups. For while the drug
kingpins can separate themselves from street-level sales, they cannot
separate themselves from the profits those sales generate.

The money laundering problem we face today is increasingly
international in character. The greater integration of the world
economy, and the removal of barriers to the free movement of capital,
have combined to create new commercial opportunities. Unfortunately,
the efficiency and convenience that the global economy affords to
legitimate commerce, make the job of disposing of criminal proceeds

Late last year, this Committee held hearings on a money laundering
system that serves as an excellent example of the scope and complexity
of money laundering today -- the Colombian Black Market Peso Exchange.
This system works as follows: Cocaine is shipped from Colombia to the
United States where it is sold. The narcotics proceeds are then
deposited by the Colombian drug cartels into U.S. bank accounts
belonging to a black market peso broker in Colombia. The peso broker
then sells these dollars to Colombian businessmen for pesos which are
paid to the drug trafficker in exchange for the dollars. The Colombian
businessmen use the dollars to purchase goods in the U.S. which are
shipped to Colombia. This method permits the drug trafficker to
convert dirty money -- the drug proceeds -- into clean money -- the
Colombian pesos -- which can be spent legitimately.

Treasury's Response: Regulatory and Enforcement Efforts

To address this increasingly complex money laundering threat we must
continue to focus our anti-money laundering efforts on both prevention
and enforcement. In so doing, we cannot stop at our borders, but must
promote an aggressive international campaign to ensure that all
nations are vigilantly pursuing the money laundering problem.

Domestic Efforts -- Regulatory and Enforcement

Domestically, our goal is to combine effective prevention of money
laundering with proactive aggressive enforcement. Leveraging
Treasury's unique regulatory authority in concert with its enforcement
capabilities (and those of other agencies), we seek a comprehensive
approach to the money laundering problem -- one that both insulates
financial institutions from criminal proceeds, and enhances the
prospects for identifying launderers and disrupting their illegal

Domestic Regulatory Efforts

We are accomplishing this objective in several ways. To enhance our
ability to prevent money laundering, for example, we are developing
more intelligent, targeted regulations for banks and other financial
institutions. In the last several years, FinCEN has been engaged in an
effort to streamline regulations while actually increasing the utility
of the information provided to law enforcement.

As part of the continuing process of reforming the BSA, we have
introduced an invigorated system of suspicious transaction reporting.
Our objective is to permit the financial sector to redirect its
resources from mechanical compliance to more proactive detection
methods. We are building our alliance with the U.S. financial services
community, utilizing its expertise to identify potential criminal
conduct within its midst.

We are also working to revitalize anti-money laundering controls for
institutions other than banks. To that end, FinCEN recently issued
proposed regulations expanding suspicious activity reporting to
casinos and will soon add securities firms. FinCEN also is in the
process of finalizing regulations requiring the registration of
issuers and sellers of traveler's checks and money orders, money
transmitters and other "money services" businesses. These regulations
will also require certain of these institutions to report suspicious
activity. Finally, FinCEN has proposed regulations that would impose a
special currency reporting rule on certain outbound currency transfers
stemming from Treasury's use of Geographic Targeting Orders, which I
will talk about below.

Domestic Enforcement Efforts

In addition to our regulatory efforts, which are geared toward
preventing the placement of illicit proceeds in our nation's financial
institutions, Treasury's investigative bureaus have been working to
enhance the detection and investigation of money laundering. Customs
and IRS-CI in particular are aggressively pursuing investigations in
which the disruption of a money laundering operation, and the arrest
and prosecution of the launderers, are the primary objectives.
Together, these agencies have approximately 1,100 expert financial
investigators and staff dedicated to "pure" money laundering
investigations. Last year alone, Customs conducted nearly 4,500 money
laundering investigations. IRS-CI conducted almost 2,500.

Just last week, Customs seized more than $15 million in cash believed
to be illegal drug proceeds in four separate incidents in Houston, San
Diego, Newark, and Chicago. The money was destined for Colombia,
Venezuela and Mexico.

Domestic Efforts -- The Comprehensive Approach

As I stated earlier, we believe our efforts are most successful when
we combine prevention with enforcement to shut down entire money
laundering systems. This comprehensive approach can be seen in
Operation Casablanca and in Treasury's use of Geographic Targeting
Orders, or GTOs.

The Comprehensive Approach -- Casablanca

On its face, Casablanca may appear to be strictly an enforcement
action. In light of its own regulatory authority, Treasury understands
how law enforcement can benefit by working with regulators. In the
case of Casablanca, the involvement of the Federal Reserve Board made
it possible for it to immediately issue temporary cease and desist
orders to six banks (Banamex, Banca Serfin, Bital, Bancomer and Banco
Santander, Banco Industrial de Venezuela). The orders require these
banks to describe their current anti-money laundering programs, to
tell the Federal Reserve their understanding of what broke and to
submit an acceptable plan to fix what was broken.

More broadly, Treasury is reviewing its regulations to see what, if
any, changes are needed to better prevent and detect money laundering
schemes such as those utilized in Casablanca.

The Comprehensive Approach -- GTOs

Another example of Treasury's comprehensive approach is its use of
Geographic Targeting Orders -- GTOs. In 1996 and 1997, Treasury,
working with the Department of Justice, issued a number of GTOs
mandating additional record-keeping and reporting requirements for
certain money transmitters sending money to Colombia and the Dominican
Republic. As with Casablanca, in the case of the GTOs, investigative
work led to regulatory action. With the GTOs, however, the regulatory
action also spawned enforcement activity.

Through the work of a Treasury-led task force, Operation El Dorado, it
became apparent that Colombian drug traffickers were using certain
money remitters in the New York City area to launder drug cash. The
evidence demonstrated that 12 remitters had funneled approximately
$800 million a year to Colombia. To account for this money
legitimately, each Colombian household in the area would have had to
wire $30,000 to Colombia each year -- an amount which exceeds the
$27,000 average annual income for this community.

To address this problem, Treasury invoked a previously little-used
statutory provision which grants the Secretary of the Treasury
authority to require special reporting and record keeping by financial
institutions in specific geographic areas where necessary to fulfill
the purposes of the Bank Secrecy Act.

In August 1996, Treasury issued a GTO aimed at remittances from the
New York City area to Colombia. It required 12 New York area money
remitters and their approximately 1,600 agents to obtain and report
identifying information on all cash remittances of $750 or more to
Colombia. A second GTO was signed in October 1996, extending the
heightened reporting requirements to 10 additional remitters and their
agents. The GTOs were extended by Treasury several more times before
expiring in October, 1997. Following the Colombian GTOs, Treasury
issued a series of similar GTOs covering money remittances sent to the
Dominican Republic by certain remitters in New York, New Jersey and
Puerto Rico.

While we are still reviewing the effect of the Dominican Republic
GTOs, it is clear that the Colombian GTOs had a significant impact on
the flow of drug proceeds through the targeted remitters. Several of
the remitters targeted under the GTOs stopped sending funds to
Colombia altogether, while many others sent significantly lower
amounts. Thirteen individuals and two corporations have been indicted
or have pled guilty to structuring transactions to avoid the GTOs.
Several others are under investigation.

The GTOs also forced the traffickers to resort to other, more
difficult tactics to move their profits back to Colombia. In the first
six months after the Colombian GTOs went into effect, Customs'
currency seizures at East Coast ports of entry increased approximately
four hundred percent as traffickers were forced to move money in bulk.

The Colombian GTOs represent the model for intelligent money
laundering control. Beyond using traditional law enforcement
techniques to address discrete instances of criminal activity, the
GTOs marshaled Treasury's regulatory authority to identify and correct
a weakness that had penetrated a small but important part of the money
transmitter industry. This preventative effort, in turn, triggered a
wave of enforcement activity, as money launderers were forced to
resort to riskier means of moving their funds once the vulnerabilities
in the transmitter industry had been remedied. Finally, the evidence
gleaned through the GTO experience prompted Treasury to propose a more
permanent solution to the problems it sought to address. FinCEN is in
the process of finalizing the three regulations it proposed last May
to deal with money services businesses. The regulatory process has
emphasized frank and full discussions with industry in five open
meetings and the review of more than 80 comments. The final rules will
build on the GTO experience by dealing with abuse in sectors of the
money remitter industry and giving us the tools to carry on the work
begun by the El Dorado Task Force.

International Efforts

Through innovation in regulation and enforcement, then, we are working
to make U.S. financial channels less user friendly to criminal
enterprises. Indeed, as our experiences in Casablanca and with the
GTOs demonstrate, we have been successful at forcing drug traffickers
to alter their money laundering schemes. But these are only two fronts
in the battle.

Drug traffickers and other criminal organizations will continue to
search for the path of least resistance to launder their money. Thus,
no country's individual efforts -- whether in the legal, regulatory,
or law enforcement arena -- will be sufficient given the relative ease
with which money flows across borders.

In this regard, important strides have been made through multilateral
initiatives. Chief among those have been the Financial Action Task
Force, or "FATF." The FATF is an independent, international group
formed in 1989 by the G-7 nations to cultivate the development of
effective anti-money laundering controls and enhance cooperation in
investigations among its membership and around the globe. In the nine
years since its inception, the FATF has made significant progress. The
FATF 40 Recommendations, issued originally in 1990 and updated in
1996, serve as the principal benchmark for governments addressing the
legal, financial and regulatory aspects of money laundering. Moreover,
prior to the establishment of the FATF, money laundering was a
criminal offense only in the U.S. and a couple of other nations.
Today, all 26 FATF member nations have such laws in place.

Over the next several years, the FATF will expand its membership to
include strategically important countries from under-represented parts
of the world, and foster the development of FATF-style regional
bodies, such as the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and the Asia
Pacific Group.

A related initiative designed to build upon the FATF's success in the
Western Hemisphere has begun under the auspices of the Summit of the
Americas. As a follow up to the 1994 Summit in Miami, Secretary Rubin
convened a conference of Finance and Justice Ministers representing 29
of the 34 democracies of the region in Buenos Aires in December 1995.
The purpose of the Buenos Aires conference was to develop a
coordinated, hemispheric strategy to combat money laundering. The
conference produced an agreement on the basic elements of such a
strategy, including the need to: criminalize the laundering of the
proceeds of drug trafficking and other serious crimes; adopt reporting
and record keeping regulations to protect financial institutions; take
steps to enhance international cooperation in money laundering
investigations; and create financial intelligence units that
specialize in the collection and analysis of pertinent financial
records in order to help track criminals' financial activities.

The Summit process has yielded promising results. Over one third of
the Summit nations have passed legislation criminalizing money
laundering, or have issued anti-money laundering regulations. Many
others are considering doing so. Four Summit countries have
established financial intelligence units and a fifth, Paraguay, is
expected to have a financial intelligence unit in place by July 1,

In addition to multilateral efforts, Treasury -- in conjunction with
our partners at the Departments of Justice and State -- works
bilaterally with a number of countries to strengthen the global fight
against money laundering. In so doing, we provide assistance in a
wide-range of areas. Treasury and Justice have assisted Mexico,
Panama, El Salvador and others in drafting anti-money laundering
legislation and regulations. FinCEN has provided technical assistance
to Canada, Venezuela, Argentina, and other countries regarding the
establishment of financial intelligence units and has trained analysts
staffing such units. In the last year, IRS-CI has trained foreign
investigators and prosecutors from, among other places, Russia, El
Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago, and Brazil. In fact, just last week,
IRS-CI and Customs participated in a training session for Colombian
prosecutors and investigators sponsored by the Department of Justice.
Through these multilateral and bilateral efforts we will continue to
make it more difficult for criminals to launder their illicit funds in
all countries.


The final component of Treasury's international strategy is the IEEPA
Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers program directed against
the Colombian drug cartels. This economic sanctions program against
the Colombian narcotics traffickers was imposed by President Clinton
through Executive Order 12978 issued under authority of the
International Emergency Economic Powers Act. The principal tool for
implementing the IEEPA narcotics trafficking sanctions is the list of
Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers ("SDNTs") developed by
Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") in close
consultation with the Justice and State Departments.

The objectives of the SDNT program are to identify, expose, isolate
and incapacitate the businesses and agents of the Colombian cartels
and to deny them access to the U.S. financial system and to the
benefits of trade and transactions involving United States businesses
and individuals. For example, SDNTs are denied access to banking
services in the U.S. and Colombia, and existing SDNT accounts have
been terminated. To date, OFAC has identified nearly 400 closed
Colombian bank accounts affecting over 200 SDNTs. OFAC has issued
seven lists identifying SDNTs since the inception of the IEEPA
sanctions in October 1995. As of today, OFAC has listed 451 companies
and individuals as SDNTs against which the prohibitions and blocking
authorities of Executive Order 12978 apply. The SDNT list includes the
four kingpins of the Cali cartel named by President Clinton as
significant narcotics traffickers, the newly-designated significant
North Coast trafficker, Julio Caesar Nasser David, 154 companies, and
292 additional individuals involved in the ownership or management of
the Colombian drug cartels' "legitimate" business empire. Work is
underway on naming more SDNTs.

Next Steps

The drug traffickers and other criminals never rest in their attempts
to find new, easier methods of laundering their dirty money. We must
be ever vigilant in our efforts to stop them. Just as we continue to
hurt the criminal groups through enforcement activity, we also
continue to revise our regulations to respond to new threats. To
ensure that prosecutors and investigators in the field are informed
about regulatory and other tools as they are developed, Treasury and
Justice co-sponsor a series of money laundering conferences. To date,
conference attendees, which include nearly 200 federal investigators
and prosecutors from across the country, have discussed Geographic
Targeting Orders, FinCEN's Suspicious Activity Reporting System, and
money laundering trends including the use money orders and bulk cash

Additionally, our efforts to continually improve our anti-money
laundering regime include reviewing relevant law to see if changes
need to be made. In this regard, I would like to encourage the
Committee to support President Clinton's International Crime Control
Act. The new authorities contained in the Act would give Treasury more
weapons to fight a wide-range of international crimes, including money
laundering. I particularly want to highlight the provision permitting
Customs to search outbound mail.

Currently, the Customs Service conducts legal, warrantless border
searches in virtually every situation in which merchandise crosses the
border. The one exception is outbound international mail sent through
the U.S. Postal Service. We are certain that this fact has not gone
unnoticed by international criminals and terrorists, who are only too
happy to take advantage of this relatively safe and inexpensive means
of transporting contraband and cash out of the United States. Express
mail parcels can accommodate up to $90,000 in $100 bills, making it
one of the most efficient and cost-effective means of smuggling
currency out of the country. Similarly, a single international letter
class parcel can hold as much as $180,000 in $100 bills. The outbound
mail provision of the President's International Crime Control Act
would make it easier for Customs to interdict such shipments.

In addition to the President's International Crime Control Act, I also
want to take a moment to comment on your bill, Mr. Chairman, as well
as the bill introduced by Representative Velazquez. In doing so,
however, I would only note that I must limit my comments to technical
matters pending a more detailed analysis and formal position by the
Administration on each of the bills.

The money laundering problem is complex and extends across the country
and beyond our borders, and potentially involves different sectors of
the financial services industry. The Department of the Treasury
appreciates the efforts made by this committee and its members to help
us in the fight against money laundering, including the development of
legislation to enhance anti-money laundering measures.

"Money Laundering Deterrence Act of 1998" (Leach Bill)

The Money Laundering Deterrence Act contains a number of provisions
with objectives that could further our fight against money laundering.

In particular, we appreciate the attempt the bill makes to address the
use of form 8300 to assist law enforcement investigations of money
laundering and financial crimes. This form is essentially the
equivalent of a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) for non-financial
businesses such as car dealerships. Changing the status of this form
so that it is required by the Bank Secrecy Act rather than the
Internal Revenue Code could provide valuable information to federal,
state, and local law enforcement organizations conducting financial
crime investigations and tracking down the laundering of drug profits
and other criminal proceeds.

We also appreciate the effort made in this bill to extend a "safe
harbor" from liability for reporting suspicious financial activity. As
we view it, the provisions in the bill would grant immunity to
accountants who report suspicious activities and would make clear that
a "safe harbor" for suspicious activity reporting applies to

This legislation also expands BSA summons authority, which could be
used by FinCEN to develop a modern civil enforcement program with
easier access to important information. This provision would clarify
the scope of laws covering BSA administrative summons to cover
compliance audits and investigations related to the filing of BSA
reports for any person.

In one of its sections, the bill also attempts to clarify penalties
for violations of GTO's and funds transfer rules. The bill would make
plain that violations of GTO's and of wire transfer rules constitute
violations of law, and that structuring violations extend to
transactions that are broken up to avoid the $3,000 floor for wire
transfer record-keeping requirements. These changes solve important
technical problems.

"Money Laundering and Related Financial Crimes Strategy Act of 1998"
(Velazquez Bill)

We appreciate that Congresswoman Velazquez's Money Laundering Strategy
Act recognizes the scope of the money laundering problem and attempts
to develop a mechanism to address these challenges.

An anti-money laundering strategy could prove to be useful in setting
priorities and communicating them to Congress and the public. Money
laundering enforcement is complex and resource-intensive. Enforcement
of money laundering laws could benefits from proper coordination among
federal, state, and local law enforcement.

We also appreciate the bill's effort to make additional resources for
anti-money laundering activities available to the men and women
fighting money laundering in State and local law enforcement.
Financial crime investigations are complex and require specialized
expertise, as well as resource commitments to follow leads that take
time to develop. Like our some of recent investigations indicate,
cases themselves may span years and are information-intensive. Because
of this, State and local law enforcement can benefit from additional
resources and expertise to fully join the fight against money

"Money Laundering Act of 1998" (McCollum Bill)

The Money Laundering Act of 1998 introduced by Congressman McCollum
includes provisions that were in a money laundering bill the
Administration supports. This bill could also help us in our
continuing fight against money laundering, both in the United States
and abroad.

The Administration has previously supported a bill containing most,
though not all, of the provisions in this proposal. This bill was
primarily designed to address international laundering of criminal
proceeds, either by criminals committing offenses in the U.S. and
attempting to conceal their gains abroad, or by criminals who commit
offenses in other nations and attempt to use our financial system to
launder their profits. For example, Section 8 of this legislation
would expand the predicate offenses for money laundering to include a
number of foreign crimes, such as terrorism, fraud and corruption, and
crimes of violence. Section 16 also raises the standard necessary for
successfully asserting the "innocent owner" defense if individuals buy
tainted profits on the so-called "Black Market Peso Exchange."

Under this legislation, such a claim would be subject to the legal
standard applicable in drug cases, which requires a person to
establish that he or she was a bona fide purchaser who took all
reasonable affirmative steps to make sure that the money was not
derived from a criminal offense.

The Justice Department took the lead in drafting the original
legislation from which this bill draws, and will likely have further
comments about other significant provisions contained in this bill.

Further collaboration

As you consider all of this legislation, we want to be of the greatest
possible assistance in giving you the best considered view regarding
technical aspects of the bills. These anti-money laundering bills
highlight the Committee's determined support to assist federal law
enforcement and regulators in the fight against laundering of dirty
money. We would like to continue to work with each of you as you move
forward with your respective bills.

Once again, I would like to thank the Committee for allowing me to
speak today on this very important issue. I look forward to continuing
our work to combat money laundering in the U.S. and abroad. Thank you.

(end text)