illegal drug trafficking in Colombia to its 34-page list of nations and individuals that U.S. banks must avoid. Banks that handle transactions from these prohibited customers are subject to large fines from the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control. The additions were sparked by a speech that President Clinton delivered to world leaders at the United Nations' 50th anniversary celebration in New York last month. Explaining that international drug trafficking has provoked a "national emergency," Mr. Clinton argued for expanding anti- money-laundering efforts. President Clinton's "announcement sends a strong message about the seriousness and urgency he attaches to the problem of international organized crime, and more particularly to money laundering," said Ronald K. Noble, Treasury under secretary for enforcement. "I assure you that sanctions of the sort his initiative contemplates are never ever casually considered. Nor will they be thoughtlessly applied." Fines as high as $225,000 have been slapped on banks that have not blocked a payment involving a restricted person. In all, more than $2.1 million in fines for foreign asset control office violations were handed out in fiscal 1994, according to a Treasury official.
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