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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Promises to Stop 'Dirty Money'

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed at international crime fighting talks Tuesday to halt the flow of "dirty money" out of Russia.

U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, who met Putin at the conference of law enforcers from the Group of Eight nations, said she was "gratified" by assurances that Russia is working on a money-laundering law, and a British official hailed Putin's firm stance on crime.

"We are interested more than anyone in making sure dirty money is not laundered in other countries. We are prepared to block completely the sources of dirty money on our territory," Putin said, addressing the opening session of the conference.

The meeting in Moscow of officials from the G-8, which joins Russia and the Group of Seven leading industrial powers, was called to discuss money laundering and international organized crime.

The conference was planned long before international inquiries into allegations of Russian money laundering and bribery brought the issues to the front pages of newspapers worldwide, to the great embarrassment of Russian officials.

British Senior Home Office Minister Charles Clarke told reporters that Western officials had been pleasantly surprised by Putin's strong statement, which they saw as binding.

"Now we have a set of criteria set out by the prime minister himself and by which we will judge his actions," he said.

"They [the Russians] know extremely well that if they cannot succeed in making good what is agreed here it will be extremely difficult to maintain confidence within the G-8 in their positions on these issues."

President Boris Yeltsin, in a message of greetings to the conference, stressed it was convened at Moscow's initiative.

He said Moscow hoped it would help boost contacts within the G-8, which brings Russia together with the United States, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Britain and Canada.

Western officials have tried to play down the irony of holding the conference in Russia amid the swirling scandals.

"No, I don't think it's ironic. It is not inappropriate," a U.S. Embassy spokesman said Monday. "The primary focus will be on transnational issues, including high-tech and financial crimes."

U.S. prosecutors have indicted three Russian emigres accused of illegally funnelling billions of dollars out of Russia through accounts at the Bank of New York.

Separately, Swiss prosecutors are investigating whether the Swiss firm Mabetex paid off senior Kremlin officials to win hundreds of millions of dollars in Russian construction contracts. The Kremlin and the firm deny wrongdoing.

Russian officials have said the latest wave of allegations of corruption in their country has been blown out of proportion by their enemies to blacken Russia's name. But Putin went out of his way to show that Russia takes the issues seriously.

"No single country ... is immune from corruption. Russia is struggling at close quarters with this problem," he said. "We are determined decisively to carry out the fight against this evil, which is a result of the process of economic reform."

Reno said after talks with Putin that she was pleased by his desire to get Russian lawmakers to finish work on a law to combat money laundering.

"I am very gratified by the commitment [of Putin] for the introduction of legislation and most of all for his thoughtful appreciation of our comments and our suggestions.

"Not in terms of being presumptuous, but just in terms of saying: we're here to help you and be as effective a partner as possible."

Russia's G-8 envoy, Alexander Livshits, told NTV television that the main thing Western nations wanted from Russia was passage of the law on money laundering before the end of 1999.