Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting Since 1987

From the South Bronx to Wall Street to the United Nations

- In Other Media   For further information, click here to contact us         .

Home -For the Media
Bank Beat/ RSS Feed
Freedom of Information
Human Rights
Current Campaigns
How to Contact Us

Inner City Press Global Inner Cities Report - February 28, 2006

Empty Words on Money Laundering and Narcotics, from the UN, Georgia and Equatorial Guinea

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press U.N. Correspondent

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 28 – The International Narcotics Control Board released its 2005 annual report on Tuesday, during an embargoed briefing by retired U.S. diplomat and Board member Melvyn Levitsky. Asked by Inner City Press if the Board has taken a position on statements about coca by Bolivia’s new president Evo Morales, Mr. Levitsky responded that while the report ends with November 2005, Bolivia is a signatory to treaties that cover coca, and that the twenty five year opt-out for medical uses is not applicable. Mr. Levitsky confirmed that opium production in Afghanistan has increased since 2001, and ascribed this to areas of the country being outside of government control. The question arose, if the military firepower currently supporting the government of Hamid Karzai can’t or won’t turn the tide on opium production, it will be difficult to see anti-drug goals of the Board realized.

            Earlier in the briefing Mr. Levitsky had said that Afghan production is moving through Iran and “Russia;” asked to clarify, he said trafficking would have to move through the “former Soviet republics” of Central Asia in order to get to Russia.
            The report, in its 552nd paragraph on page 79, states that “Turkmenistan, whose extensive borders with Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are inadequately controlled, continues to be used as a transit country by trackers of Afghan opiates.”

            Also reported, but not connected, is the Board’s note a page earlier that “current legislation in Armenia, Georgia and Turkmenistan is insufficient to deal with the problem of money laundering; the Board urges the Governments of those countries to remedy the situation without delay.”

     Interviewed after the briefing by Inner City Press, Mr. Levitsky said that money laundering is not in the mandate of the International Narcotics Control Board. “We don’t have a section that monitors flows,” he said. Asked if the Board provides narcotic-specific information to the Financial Action Task Force, Mr.Levitsky shook his head and mentioned changes in Swiss and even Russian banking secrecy laws, but nothing about Turkmenistan, much less Georgia.

            Georgia’s permanent representative to the UN, Revaz Adamia, confirmed in a Feb. 1 press briefing quotes by National Bank of Georgia president Roman Gotsiridze regarding Russian banks money laundering in Abkhazia.  Mr. Adamia spoke of money laundering for “terrorism,” and said that he would more get more specifics from the National Bank of Georgia. While such information has yet to be provided, in Tbilisi Mr. Gotsiridze has said more, being quoted in a Rustavi-2 TV report on February 23 that

“The National Bank has asked the FATF to examine illegal activities of Russian commercial banks in Abkhazia. Here is a list of the Russian commercial banks that have been illegally operating in Abkhazia and laundering massive amounts of black money. It is not ruled out that there may be even more serious violations, for example financing of terrorism, going on in this uncontrolled area. Banks operating in Abkhazia are illegal and unlicensed banking establishments. The Russian legislation itself prohibits any economic relations with unlicensed organizations.”

            Inner City Press on Feb. 28 posed written questions to Georgia’s mission to the UN; the questions were not responded to by deadline.

International Narcotics Control Board briefer

Footnote on a footnote: The report states that “Equatorial Guinea remains the only State in Africa that is not yet a party to any of the three main international drug control treaties” (page 42). The Secretary-General on Feb. 27 met with the long-time president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, and afterwards hailed him. One wonders if the topics of money laundering came up...

On the Web:

A related previous Inner City Press report --

Abkhazia: Cleansing and (Money) Laundering, Says Georgia, Even Terror’s Haven

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press U.N. Correspondent

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 1 -- The situation in Abkhazia should be internationalized, said Georgia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Revaz Adamia, on February 1. Briefing reporters at the UN Headquarters, Mr. Adamia characterized the plight of ethnic Georgians in Abkhazia as one of ethnic cleansing and even genocide. He cited a figure of 10,000 dead (as well as 100 Russian soldiers killed). His prepared remarks referred to “de facto annexation” and that “acquisition of property in the conflict zones, including property of refugees and IDPs, by the Russian entities is underway at full steam.”

            As Inner City Press reported in December, the President of Georgia's National Bank Roman Gotsiridze has accused Russian banks in Abkhazia of money laundering and of financing terrorism. At the Feb. 1 UN briefing, Mr. Adamia responded to questioning by reiterating the allegation, and specifying that the perpetrator of particular terror attacks in Turkey is living in Abkhazia, “he has a shelter there.” Mr. Adamia promised to provide Inner City Press with further information and evidence; watch this space.

            On January 31, the Security Council extended the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) until March 31. The mission consists of 122 military observers and 13 civilian police officers.

After the briefing, in an interview with Inner City Press, Ambassador Adamia provided an update on the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline. He stated that the Georgian section pipe is full of oil, but that this is not yet the case in Turkey. He stated that Turkmenistan wants to use the BTC pipeline, but that the Kremlin for now is blocking it. This, Adamia said, makes more likely the construction of an underwater trans-Caspian pipeline. Pipe dream? Rose (revolution) colored glasses? Only time will tell.

Other Inner City Press reports are archived on

In Locked Down Iraq, Oil Flows Unmetered While Questions Run in Circles

What is the Sound of Eleven Uzbeks Disappearing? A Lack of Seats in Tashkent, a Turf War at UN

Kosovo: Of Collective Punishment and Electricity; Lights Out on Privatization of Ferronikeli Mines

Abkhazia: Cleansing and (Money) Laundering, Says Georgia, Even Terror’s Haven

Post-Tsunami Human Rights Abuses, including by UNDP in the Maldives

Halliburton Repays $9 Million, While Iraq’s Oil Remains Unmetered

Darfur on the Margins: Slovenia’s President Drnovsek’s Quixotic Call for Action Ignored

Who Pays for the Global Bird Flu Fight? Not the Corporations, So Far - UN

Citigroup Dissembles at United Nations Environmental Conference

Other Inner City Press reports are archived on

For reporting about banks, predatory lending, consumer protection, money laundering, mergers or the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), click here for Inner City Press's weekly CRA Report. Inner City Press also reports weekly concerning the Federal Reserve, environmental justice, global inner cities, and more recently on the United Nations, where Inner City Press is accredited media. Follow those links for more of Inner City Press's reporting, or, click here for five ways to contact us, with or for more information.

            ©opyright 2005-2006 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editors [at] - phone: (718) 716-3540