WASHINGTON — Argentina, Curacao and St Maarten have been designated as "major money laundering countries," a State Department report said Thursday, moving them up a notch on a money laundering watchlist.
The annual International Narcotics Control Strategy report moved Argentina and the two Caribbean island entities to the list of "jurisdictions of primary concern" from the less acute "jurisdictions of concern" category.
Argentina, Curacao and St Maarten join a wide-ranging list of 66 countries that includes Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, the Cayman Islands, China, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uruguay, and Zimbabwe.
The report said the three have become "major money laundering countries," or those "whose financial institutions engage in currency transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from international narcotics trafficking."
As in the previous reports, the March 2012 report has been sent to Congress, State Department officials said.
"Argentine and international observers express the concern that money laundering related to narcotics trafficking, corruption, contraband, and tax evasion occurs throughout the financial system," the report said.
"It is also believed that most money laundering operations in Argentina are conducted through transactions involving specific offshore centers," it said.
In 2010, Curacao became a new autonomous country within the Netherlands, it said. The same year, St Maarten became an autonomous entity within the Netherlands.
"Curacao is a regional financial center and a transshipment point for drugs from South America bound for the United States and Europe. Money laundering is primarily related to proceeds from illegal narcotics," it said.
"The combating of drug trafficking is an ongoing concern for St. Maarten. Money laundering is primarily related to proceeds from illegal narcotics," the report said.
"Bulk cash smuggling and trade based money laundering may be a problem due to the close proximity of other Caribbean islands and the French part of the island, Saint Martin, which is a free trade zone," it added
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »