Senators rip comptroller in Riggs case

April 21, 2004 at 12:37 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 21 (UPI) -- Senate Banking Committee leaders, citing issues at Riggs Bank, may try to strip U.S. bank regulators of their power to enforce money laundering laws.

Riggs has allegedly failed to report tens of millions of dollars in suspicious transactions by Saudi diplomats, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

On Tuesday three senators, including committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R.-Ala., said the Riggs case has raised the possibility another entity may be needed to enforce money-laundering laws.

The Office of the Comptroller of Currency and other agencies have charged or are investigating Riggs for allegedly failing to report suspicious transactions by the Saudi Embassy.

Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D.-Md., asked whether there needed to be "a separate examination and compliance force in the area of bank secrecy."

When regulators said they needed time to show they really can enforce such laws, Shelby asked: "Do we have that time? Do we have that luxury of a window of time in our war against terrorism financing?"

Responded Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan: "To be sure, we do not have the time. But bringing in a third party at this stage in my judgment is not going to expedite the process."

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