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Banks to announce new moves to fight money laundering

The late Nigerian dictator, Sani Abacha, was a major client of Swiss banks


Twelve of the world's largest banks, including Switzerland's UBS and Credit Suisse, were on Monday set to unveil tougher measures to combat money laundering.

The package of measures, known as the "Wolfsberg guidelines", were agreed by the 12 banks in a bid to counter allegations that they are not doing enough to prevent dirty money from entering the global financial system.

The banks, together with Transparency International, a pressure group dedicated to fighting corruption, drew up the guidelines. The new measures aim to guarantee a global standard of due diligence for banks dealing with rich clients.

Experts estimate $590 billion (SFr1050 billion) is laundered annually. The most recent high profile case revealed in Switzerland involved funds worth $645 million (SFr1.148 billion) hidden away by the regime of Nigeria's late dictator, Sani Abacha.

The Swiss authorities recently froze these accounts.

Swiss banks, which control about one third of the world's private banking market, have spearheaded the effort to introduce the new measures. They are anxious to put an end to allegations Switzerland is a safe haven for dubious funds.

Last August, Credit Suisse and five other banks were reprimanded by the Swiss Banking Commission for shortcomings in procedures relating to the handling of funds from dubious sources.

Among the banks that have agreed to the new code are UBS, Credit Suisse, Citigroup Barclays, HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Société Générale, Banco Santander and ABN Amro.


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