NEWS

Banks unable to act on suspect funds

Greek banks have already received lists of accounts believed to be linked with terrorist activities from the European Central Bank, but are unable to take any direct action due to the lack of the necessary legal framework, Greece’s central bank said yesterday. Speaking at a press conference, Bank of Greece Deputy Governor Nikos Garganas confirmed that a list of suspect accounts has been forwarded to Greece. He said no action has been taken to freeze them, adding that the forthcoming ECOFIN council of EU finance ministers is expected to decide on legal measures which will permit more drastic action. Banking sources said yesterday that, apart from the ECB list, the Bank of Greece has already been sent information concerning suspect accounts from police authorities of EU member states. Until a new legislative framework is adopted, banks will keep the accounts under close surveillance. Meanwhile, Cyprus yesterday took legislative action against money-laundering. Under a new bill adopted by the Cabinet yesterday, anybody found guilty of offering financial assistance to terrorists will face a maximum punishment of life imprisonment or a 2-million Cypriot pound fine. The draft law also allows for the confiscation of assets belonging to people who have been proven to have funded terrorist groups. The resulting cash will go to a support fund for terrorism victims. In his peroration, Simitis set three main goals for the party: Victory in the local government elections (in October 2002); a successful EU presidency in (the first half of) 2003; victory (at the national elections) in 2004.