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Caribbean Reports Ukrainian Money Laundering

15 November 1999

Authorities in the Caribbean offshore banking centre of Antigua and Barbuda have uncovered a money laundering operation run by former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko. Lazarenko was prime minister of the Ukraine but fled the country in 1997 after being accused of looting export factories. He was arrested in California this February, where he is being held pending extradition to Switzerland to face money laundering charges.

Prime Minister Lester of Antigua and Barbuda revealed that Lazarenko had been moving money between his offshore accounts in the Caribbean and accounts in Switzerland and the Ukraine to conceal its origin. "The sums involved in the operation total in excess of $80 million and appear to be the proceeds of a major fraud in the Ukraine and money laundering in Switzerland," the statement said. The suspect transactions were revealed by an Antiguan bank, reporting them as required under the Caribbean nation's banking regulations. All the accounts traced to Lazarenko have been frozen.

Wrenford Ferrance, head of the Office of National Drug Control and Money Laundering Policy in Antigua said that "Antigua and Barbuda will not tolerate money laundering or any form of criminal financial activity in our jurisdiction".

Information provided by the Ukrainian government has also shown that Lazarenko was using companies registered in Britain, the Bahamas, the United States, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands to launder the money.


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