WASHINGTON -- International criminal organizations use American banks to launder money with. relative ease, despite the precautions U.S. banks have taken, according to a senior Treasury official.

"Money moves more easily through the world than even drugs," said Brian M. Bruh, director of the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. "The governments of the world just do not have the laws on their books" to effectively prevent it, be said.

But the money-laundering situation has improved, and criminals have been Forced to use more sophisticated means of laundering their profits, Mr. Bruh added.

Organized Crime on Rise

"People don't walk into a bank with suitcases full of cash anymore, but financial systems are still infiltrated with illegal money," said Mr. Bruh, who spoke last Friday at a news conference on organized crime.

Organized crime is on the increase -- whether it is drug running or smuggling aliens into the United States, and as a result, criminals have plenty of profits to hide.

Such crime "truly makes our global village a dangerous neighborhood," said William Olson, a senior fellow at the National Strategy Information Center, Inc., a Washington-based think tank.

"The banks in the United States are doing a good job generally," Mr. Bruh said. But because foreign institutions are not always as careful, Americans "could be defrauded from a great distance."

More Training Seen as Needed

Because bankers were not taught in school about the operation of international financial fraud, greater training is needed, the think tank's report said.

In addition, Mr. Olson called for more cooperation among banks and law-enforcement agencies.

The, report is titled, "International Organized Crime: Emerging Threat to U.S. Security."

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