05BUCHAREST32 / 2005-01-07 06:32:00
Embassy Bucharest
                UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 BUCHAREST 000032 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
REF: STATE 254401 
This report provides Embassy Bucharest's input for the 
International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Part II, 
Financial Crimes and Money Laundering. 
I. Summary 
Romania's   geographic location makes it a natural transit 
country for trafficking in narcotics, arms, stolen vehicles, 
and persons and, therefore, vulnerable to financial crimes. 
Romania's National Bank estimates the dollar amount of 
financial crimes to be between $1 - 1.5 billion per year. 
Tax evasion/VAT fraud constitutes about 45% ($500 - $600 
million per year) of this total.  Fraud in the financial- 
banking sector, fraudulent bankruptcy and smuggling are 
other principal financial crimes.  Romania also has one of 
the highest occurrences of online credit card fraud in the 
world.  As in several other countries in Eastern Europe, 
corruption and the presence of organized crime activity 
facilitate financial crimes.  Legislation and regulation 
designed to combat financial crime are of recent enactment 
and are fairly comprehensive.  Nevertheless, implementation 
lags, while reporting and investigations are not as timely 
or as effective as desired. 
II. Status of the Country 
Money laundering results 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 U.S. dollar is the 
preferred currency.  Endemic corruption in Romania and its 
neighboring countries abets money laundering.  The proceeds 
from the smuggling of cigarettes, alcohol, coffee, and other 
dutiable commodities are also laundered in Romania.  From 
Romania, most of the laundered funds go to off shore 
financial "shelters" in locations such as the Virgin 
Islands, Cayman Islands and Cyprus. 
III.  Actions Against Money Laundering 
Romania criminalized money laundering with the adoption of 
Law No. 21/99 "On the Prevention and Punishment of Money 
Laundering" in January 1999.  The law requires customer 
identification, record keeping, reporting transactions of a 
suspicious or unusual nature and reporting of all 
transactions over 10,000 euros.  The National Office for the 
Prevention and Control of Money Laundering (NOPCML), a 
financial intelligence unit (FIU) was established under the 
law, which mandated internal anti-money laundering 
procedures and training for all domestic financial 
institutions.  Entities subject to money laundering controls 
include banks, non-bank financial institutions, attorneys, 
accountants, and notaries, although in practice, these 
controls have not been as rigorous as those imposed on 
The National Bank of Romania introduced Norm No. 3, "Know 
Your Customer," in February 2002.  The "Know-Your-Customer" 
norm was amended in December 2003 to strengthen information 
disclosure for external wire transfers and correspondent 
banking, in keeping with new international standards.  Banks 
must include information about the originator's name, 
address and account in the wire transfer and to request the 
same information in case of incoming wires.  Banks are 
further required to take proper due diligence before 
entering into international correspondent relations and are 
prohibited from  opening correspondent accounts with shell 
In December 2002, Law no. 656/2002 on the Prevention and 
Sanctioning of Money Laundering went into effect, changing 
the list of predicate offenses to the "all-crimes" approach 
and requiring that every cash operation and every external 
wire transfer involving a sum exceeding 10,000 euros be 
reported to the NOPCML and monitored.  In addition, the new 
law expands the number and types of entities required to 
report to the NOPCML.  Some of these new entities include 
art dealers, travel agents, privatization agents, postal 
officials, money transferors, and real estate agents. 
Training for these entities is necessary to ensure 
compliance with reporting, record keeping, recognition of 
suspicious transactions and development of internal 
The new law also provides for both suspicious transaction 
reports (STRs) and currency transaction reports (CTR), with 
the CTR amounts conforming to European Union (EU) standards. 
The know your customer identification requirements have been 
honed so that identification of the client becomes necessary 
upon both the beginning of a relationship and upon single or 
multiple transactions meeting or approaching a 10,000 euro 
The NOPCML receives and evaluates STRs as well as CTRs.  The 
law also provides for feedback to be given, upon request, to 
NOPCML from the General Prosecutor's Office, and for NOPCML 
to participate in inspections and controls in conjunction 
with supervisory authorities.  In 2003, the number of STR's 
increased to 882 and 1,241 reports were filed during the 
first three quarters of 2004.  Out of the 1,241 suspicious 
transaction reports received by the NOPCML, 1,134 were filed 
by reporting entities and 107 by the supervision 
institutions.  However, efforts to prosecute these cases 
have been hampered by delays in reporting suspicious 
transactions, by a lack of resources in some regions, and by 
insufficient training in conducting complex historical 
financial investigations.  The Law on the Prevention and 
Sanctioning of Money Laundering increased the powers of 
NOPCML, but it did not provide for an increase in 
administrative capacity. 
NOPCML has begun a process of international cooperation to 
exchange information with other FIUs.  In November 2004, the 
Department of Justice's Office of Overseas Prosecutorial 
Assistance and Training sponsored an assessment of the 
NOPCML by U.S. FINCEN and a future technical assistance 
project between the two FIUs is planned for 2005.  NOPCML 
also has been working closely with Italy to improve its 
efficiency and effectiveness through an EU PHARE project. 
A US Treasury OTA advisor is assisting the National Bank of 
Romania in strengthening anti-money laundering (AML) and 
anti-terrorist financing through the introduction of 
improved bank examination procedures.  To insure that 
compliance is consistent across financial sectors, the 
advisor in cooperation with the World Bank has also assisted 
in strengthening AML compliance in the securities sector, 
including the drafting of new AML regulations for the 
National Securities Commission.  Plans are underway to 
replicate the project in the insurance industry. 
Romanian law has some, but limited, provisions for asset 
forfeiture in the Law on Combating Corruption, No. 78/2000, 
and the Law on Combating Tax Evasion, No. 87/1994.  The 
Directorate of Economic and Financial Crimes of the national 
police also has a mandate to pursue money laundering. 
Despite hundreds of money laundering cases investigated 
since 2001, the interface with the justice system remains 
On November 24, 2204, the GOR approved a draft amendment to 
the Anti-money laundering law, which is expected to be 
passed in 2005.  The new law provides for a uniform approach 
to combating and the prevention of money laundering and 
terrorist financing.  The purpose of the law is to achieve 
the standard contained in European Union Directive 
2001/97/EC.  The draft law provides that money laundering 
and terrorist financing will be regulated under the same law 
to ensure consistent and effective measures against these 
The draft recommends the inclusion of additional categories 
of individuals and institutions with reporting obligations 
to the NOPCML.  These obligations include not only reports 
on specific suspicious transactions, but also generalized 
intelligence involving financial patterns and typologies. 
Among investigative innovations, the new law will provide 
for better seizure proceedings, the employment of undercover 
investigators and the surveillance of financial accounts and 
The GOR announced a national anti-corruption plan in early 
2003 and passed a law against organized crime, codifying the 
provisions of the UN Convention in January 2003, as well as 
a new anti-corruption law in April 2003.  In the thirteen 
months since the September 2002 founding of the Anti- 
Corruption Prosecutor's Office (PNA), over 2200 cases of 
corruption have been investigated. Unfortunately, 
prosecutors have focused on low to mid-level officials and 
examples of the most egregious financial crimes have so far 
escaped serious attention.   A new Criminal Procedure Code 
was passed and became effective on July 1, 2003.  The new 
Code contains provisions for authorizing wiretapping, 
intercepting, and recording telephone calls for up to 30 
days, in certain circumstances.  These circumstances, as 
provided for within the new Code, include terrorism acts and 
money laundering. 
IV.  Actions to Combat Terrorist Financing 
Romania's political leadership has consistently and 
unequivocally condemned acts of terrorism.  After the events 
of September 11, 2001, Romania passed a number of 
legislative measures designed to sanction acts contributing 
to terrorism.  Emergency Ordinance 141, passed in October 
2001, legislates that the taking of measures, or the 
production or acquisition of means or instruments with an 
intention to commit terrorist acts, are offenses of the same 
level as terrorist acts.  These offenses are punishable with 
imprisonment ranging from five to 20 years. 
The Romanian Government and the National Bank of Romania 
(BNR) in particular have been fully cooperative in seeking 
to identify and freeze terrorist assets.  Emergency 
Ordinance 159/2001 established guidelines to prevent the use 
of the financial and banking system for the purpose of 
financing terrorist acts.  The BNR, which oversees all 
banking operations in the country, issued Norm No. 5 in 
support of Emergency Ordinance 159.  Emergency Ordinance 153 
was passed to strengthen the government's ability to carry 
out the obligations under UNSCR 1373/2001, including the 
identification, freezing and seizure of terrorist funds or 
assets.  The BNR receives lists of individuals and terrorist 
organizations from the U.S. Embassy Bucharest, UN Sanctions 
Committee, and the EU and circulates these to banks and 
financial institutions.  The new law on terrorism (Law no. 
535/2004) provides that the assets used or provided to 
terrorist entities will be forfeited, together with finances 
resulting from terrorist activity.  To date, in regard to 
terrorist financing, no arrests, seizures, or prosecutions 
have been carried out. 
In April 2002, the GOR's Supreme Defense Council of the 
Country (CSAT) adopted a National Security Strategy, which 
included a General Protocol on the Organization and 
Functioning of the National System on Preventing and 
Combating of Terrorist Acts.  This system, effective July 
2002 and coordinated through the Intelligence Service, 
brings together and coordinates a multitude of agencies, 
including 14 ministries, the General Prosecutor Office, the 
National Bank, and the National Office for the Prevention 
and Control of Money Laundering.  The GOR has also set up an 
interministerial committee to investigate the potential use 
of the Romanian financial system by terrorist organizations. 
In November 2004, the Parliament adopted Law 535/2004 on 
preventing and combating terrorism, which abrogated some of 
the previous government ordinances and took over most of 
their provisions.  The law includes a chapter on combating 
the financing of terrorism by prohibiting financial and 
banking transactions with persons included on international 
terrorist lists and requiring authorization for transactions 
conducted with entities suspected of terrorist activities in 
The GOR recognizes the link between organized crime and 
terrorism.  Bucharest is the site of the Southeast European 
Cooperation Initiative, a regional center that provides law 
enforcement training and intelligence sharing on criminal 
activities, including terrorism, for several Balkan 
Romania participates in a number of regional initiatives to 
combat terrorism.  Romania has worked within SEEGROUP (a 
working body of the NATO Initiative for Southeast Europe) to 
coordinate anti-terrorist measures undertaken by the states 
of Southeastern Europe.  The Romanian and Bulgarian Interior 
Ministers signed an intergovernmental agreement in July 2002 
to cooperate in the fight against organized crime, drug 
smuggling and terrorism. 
V. Other International Agreements 
The EU's Europe Agreement with Romania provides for 
cooperation in the fight against drug abuse and money 
laundering.  Romania is a member of the Council of Europe 
(COE) and participates in the Council of Europe's Select 
Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money 
Laundering Measures (MONEYVAL).  A mutual evaluation in 
April 1999 by that Committee uncovered a number of areas of 
concern, including the high evidence standard required for 
reporting suspicious transactions, a potential conflict with 
the bank secrecy legislation, and the lack of provisions for 
cases in which the reporting provisions are intentionally 
ignored.  Romania has been working to address these 
concerns, bringing in legal experts from the EU to consult. 
In late 2003, Romania also underwent a Financial Sector 
Assessment Program (FSAP) by the World Bank as part of that 
organization's pilot program. 
The Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty signed in 2001 between 
the United States and Romania entered into force in October 
2001.  Romania has participated in regional and global anti- 
crime efforts.  Romania is a party to the 1988 UN Drug 
Convention, the Agreement on Cooperation to Prevent and 
Combat Transborder Crime, and the UN Convention against 
Transnational Organized Crime.  With Law No. 263/2002, 
passed in 2002, Romania ratified the Council of Europe 
Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure, and Confiscation 
of the Proceeds from Crime.  During 2002, Romania also 
ratified the Council of Europe's Criminal Law Convention on 
Corruption, and in December signed the UN Convention Against 
Corruption.  Romania ratified the UN International 
Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism 
in January 2003. 
VI.  Country Vulnerabilities 
Romania should continue addressing the concerns of the 
Council of Europe evaluators by making further improvements 
in its anti-money laundering regime, and by continuing its 
progress on money laundering investigations and 
prosecutions.  The GOR needs to adopt procedures for the 
timely freezing, seizure and forfeiture of criminal or 
terrorist related assets.  Finally, the GOR must initiate 
reporting requirements for the cross-border movement of 
currency and monetary instruments. 
To assist the GOR, in November 2004, the Department of 
Justice's Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Assistance and 
Training sponsored an assessment of NOPCML by U.S. FINCEN 
and a future technical assistance project between the two 
financial intelligence units is planned for 2005. 

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