Romania, vulnerable to financial crimes and money laundering

Romania's geographic location makes it a natural transit country for trafficking in narcotics, arms, stolen vehicles, and persons. As such, the nation is vulnerable to financial crimes, including money laundering, reads a report of US State Department.

Smuggling of illicit goods, tax evasion and online credit card fraud are additional of financial crimes prevalent in Romania reads the State Department report on drug smuggling, that encloses a chapter assigned to money laundering and financial crimes.

Romania also has one of the highest occurrences of online credit card fraud in the world. Recent studies found that Romanian servers are the second biggest source for fraudulent online transactions, 13% of them being involved. Although most of the victims live in United States, criminals start to attack European citizens or even Romanians.

Laundered money comes primarily from domestic criminal activity carried out by international crime syndicates, which often launder money through limited liability companies set up for this purpose. The proceeds also from the smuggling of cigarettes, alcohol, coffee, and other dutiable commodities are also laundered in Romania. Endemic corruption in Romania and its neighboring countries abets money laundering.

After a review of all the amendments made by Romania in the last years to combat money laundering, the US report said the National Office for the Prevention and Control of Money Laundering received 352 notifications on possible transactions that could be subject money laundering or financing terrorism, in first nine months of 2009.The notifications came from various institutions, such as National Bank of Romania, Insurance Supervision Commission or Ministry of Economy.

After an examination of the suspicious transactions filed, NOPCML forwards a report to the governmental agency to continue investigation. In first nine months of 2008, the institution probed into 965 cases, 489 of money laundry and seven of terrorist financing.

The report describes the various political and operational problems that hampered NOPCLM, including the lack of staff and corruption allegations against one of its members. The institution has received negative feedback from the reporting entities.

At the end of the first nine months of 2008, The National Anti-Corruption Department has opened 41 cases in money laundering, which have resulted in indictment. Funds and assets worth 50 mln euros have been subject to administrative freezing. In the same time, the National Anti-Corruption Department has opened 112 cases suspected for money laundering.

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