WASHINGTON - Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers on Thursday criticized Congress for failing to pass anti-money-laundering legislation proposed by the Clinton administration.
"Unfortunately, while this was not a partisan issue, it was also not an issue that had time to reach the end" of the legislative process, he told law enforcement officials at a National Money Laundering Conference in Arlington, Va., sponsored by the Justice Department.
The bill would have given the Treasury Department discretionary authority to sanction foreign countries harboring financial criminals. Mr. Summers urged the next Congress not only to pass the anti-money-laundering plan, but to take more steps to curtail laundering in the United States.
"Until we can fight money laundering everywhere, we will not be fully successful in our efforts here at home," he said.
Mr. Summers also announced the recipients of nine federal grants aimed at helping state and local law enforcement agencies in their efforts to stop criminals from using the financial system to hide illegal proceeds.
The grants are part of a program, outlined this year in the administration's anti-money-laundering strategy, that earmarks $2.3 million to be split among nine groups. Congress, he added, has already approved an additional $2.5 million for future grants.
The nine grants were awarded to the San Bernardino, Calif., Sheriff's Department; the police departments of San Diego and Chicago; state police in Illinois and New York; the attorneys general of Arizona, Texas, and New York; and the Florida state's attorney's office in West Palm Beach.
Mr. Summers described the efforts the Clinton administration has made to help combat dirty money, including its participation in the international, intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force's "name and shame" campaign.
Designed to bring global attention to money laundering havens, the task force in June publicly identified 15 countries with especially lax protections against the flow of dirty money.
He predicted that the naming of the countries would make U.S. bankers more likely to file reports on suspicious financial activities involving them, and would encourage regulators in the countries to cooperate with U.S. investigators.