Fact Sheet: Cooperation Between the United States and Colombia on Programs to Counter Money Laundering and Counterfeiting
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                           (Cartagena, Colombia)

For Immediate Release                                           August 30,

                                FACT SHEET

           Cooperation Between the United States and Colombia on
          Programs to Counter Money Laundering and Counterfeiting

Today, the United States and Colombia signed a multilateral agreement with
Aruba and Panama to establish an international task force to counter the
money laundering that occurs through the Black Market Peso Exchange (BPME).
The BPME is the largest money laundering conduit in the Western Hemisphere
and the primary money laundering conduit used by Colombian drug cartels.
Anecdotal law enforcement evidence, informant statements and other evidence
suggest that at least $3 to 6 billion is laundered annually using the BMPE
system.  Brokers who operate the BMPE routinely facilitate multi-million
dollar transactions outside Colombia?s legitimate financial system.

The BMPE money laundering system involves the Colombian cartels selling
U.S. drug dollars to black market peso brokers in Colombia who, with their
agents based in the United States, place the dollars into U.S. bank
accounts while trying to circumvent the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) reporting
requirements.  The peso brokers use monetary instruments drawn on those
banks to pay for the merchandise on behalf of Colombian black market
importers.  To conceal the illegal purchase of the goods and to circumvent
Colombia?s import regulations and duties, these importers then smuggle the
goods into Colombia and sell them on the black market.

The new task force will develop policy options and recommend enforcement
actions that can be taken to effectively detect, deter, and prosecute BMPE
money laundering.  It will also enhance the flow of law enforcement
information among those countries most directly affected by the BMPE.

The Clinton Administration has made combating the BMPE a law enforcement
priority and an integral component of its National Money Laundering
Strategy 2000.  Concerted efforts by the Departments of the Treasury and
Justice, working closely with Colombia?s National Tax and Customs
Directorate (DIAN), have achieved tangible results.  In one recent
initiative, sixty individuals were arrested and approximately $26 million
in drug proceeds were targeted for seizure.

The United States also continues to work closely with Colombia to address
the problem of counterfeit currency.  Colombian manufactured counterfeit
dollars represents one-third of all counterfeit passed in the United
States.  Estimates indicate that over the past fifteen years more than $100
million in Colombian counterfeit has been passed, with $22 million seized
in the United States.  During the same time period, over $67 million has
been seized overseas, with 90% of that total seized in Colombia.  The total
counterfeit activity attributed to Colombia is over $196 million since

The U.S. Secret Service, which is charged with counterfeit investigation,
has reported an increase in the dual importation of counterfeit currency
and illegal drugs into the United States.  Ongoing investigations in
Colombia reveal that organized criminal groups are operating multiple
schemes within their criminal enterprise, and are using the same courier
network for both counterfeiting and drug trafficking.  Information provided
by Colombian law enforcement and military sources indicates that many of
the organized groups who operate the contraband manufacturing and smuggling
networks originate from areas controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces
of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN).

The U.S. Secret Service has worked effectively with its Colombian
counterparts over the last several years to address this significant crime
problem.  Key initiatives include:  provision of training to personnel of
the Colombian Administrative Department of Security (DAS) and the Colombian
Department of Investigations, Justice and Intelligence (DIJIN) responsible
for anti-counterfeiting enforcement; passage of a new anti-counterfeiting
law by the Colombian Congress in July 2000; and various successful joint

A recent example of the close cooperation between U.S. and Colombian law
enforcement in this area came on August 15, 2000 when Colombian
authorities, working with the U.S. Secret Service, captured ten leaders of
a major counterfeiting ring that had exported $40 million in fake bills to
the United States over the last two years.  These arrests shut down what
had been the world?s largest counterfeit operation.

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