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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Israel Passes Bill in an Effort to Combat Money Laundering

JERUSALEM -- Israel hopes to be removed from a blacklist of 15 nations that have failed to fight money laundering, a government official said Thursday, after the parliament passed a bill to outlaw the practice.

In June, the Financial Action Task Force, made up of 26 countries and headed by the United States, put Israel on the blacklist, though the Israeli parliament was in the process of passing a comprehensive law to stop organized crime from using Israel as a financial way station.

Illegal capital, often drug-related, is given legitimacy by passing through bank accounts into legal businesses in countries where lax laws allow the practice.

The new law is to take effect in two weeks. An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, hoped it would satisfy international requirements and lead to Israel's removal from the blacklist.

The Justice Ministry said the law, passed Wednesday, will allow Israel to "join the group of leading nations that are dedicated to combating money laundering."

During hearings on the bill, a senior police commander admitted that Israel was a center for illegal capital, due it part to its liberal immigration laws, which allow any Jew to enter the country and become a citizen. He said criminals based abroad have taken advantage of the situation to filter money through Israeli banks and industry.