Feature Articles

August 7, 2000

Round Up The Usual Suspects

By John William Tuohy

John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washingon, D.C.

compiled by John William Tuohy

JAPAN: The worlds leading nations, the G7, agreed to take strong action against countries they view as being weak in the fight against money laundering. Some actions may include cutting them off from the international banking system and IMF loans.

        The G7 said it endorsed a "hit list" of nations compiled by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which was established by the G7 to investigate the international flow of dirty money.

        Experts agree that the target of the action is Russia, which was not named in the FATF list of 15 havens that it said were not doing enough to prevent the recycling of hundreds of billions of dollars in dirty money.

        Russia has pledged to enact new laws to stop money laundering, just as it has promised several time sin the past.

SICILY: National police arrested 10 suspected Mafia members accused them of plotting the murder of a local fishmonger who had refused to pay extortion money. The evidence was gathered from a taped phone wire.

        Alleged mob boss Cosimo Bruno is heard to threatened to make the man "dis appear" if he didn't pay the protection money, or "il pizzo" as its called here.

PHILIPPINES: The Philippine central bank said it has asked Congress to pass a law that would allow monetary authorities to examine bank deposits of at least 5 million pesos ($113,507).

        The Philippines was recently named by the G7 as one of 15 countries suspected of turning a blind eye toward money laundering.

ST. VINCENT: Caribbean leaders pledged to fight money laundering in their nations but say they will refused to change their tax laws.

        The 15 leaders of the Caribbean Community said they would send a strongly worded protest letter to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) protesting its decision to name at least five Caribbean nations for not cooperating in the fight against money laundering and said 15 were hot spots for tax evasion.

        Sir James Mitchell, prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and chairman of the summit, condemned the blacklists and threatened sanctions as `a direct threat to the region's economic base and stability'' at a time when revenue from traditional sources such as bananas, sugar and tourism are flat.

        He also called the FATF's actions "highhanded".

        Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Douglas said most of the Caribbean countries are insistent on their right to decide on their own tax laws, which they consider part of the free market economy.

PENNSYLVANIA: Federal authorities disclosed that, beginning in late 1995, Philadelphia mob boss Ralph Natale was the target of intensive federal electronic surveillance.

        Natale started cooperating with federal authorities in August 1999.

        The FBI says that five years before he turned, they had bugged his condominium and his phones and at least two other bugs at the Garden State Racetrack in Cherry Hill, where Natale used to hold court almost daily.

ARIZONA: Ruling in the case of Sammy the Blue Gravano's bail, an Arizona judge has rejected Gravano's plea to have his $5 million bond reduced so he could get out of jail.

        Judge Steven Sheldon ruled that drug-related charges leveled against Gravano and his past ability to survive while on the run were good reasons to keep the bail high.

        Sheldon also noted that "significant questions remain as to Gravano's access to assets and financial resources beyond the reach of this court and the government.

CONNECTICUT: The large Italian-American community in New Haven County are protesting the regional FBI offices use of movie posters from films and TV shows such as "The Godfather" and "The Sopranos" as decorations in its new offices.

        The groups leader said the act smacked of prejudice and reflected badly upon the other wise law abiding Itlo-American community. The FBI has agreed to remove the posters.

WASHINGTON: In a rare move, the FBI has taken a public stance against a syndicated television program. The bureau says that the USA network television drama "Cover Me", which claims to be based in reality wrongly suggesting that FBI agents places the lives of their agents and families in danger in order to solve a case.

        The show, whose executive producer is former pop idol Shaun Cassidy, is loosely based on the life of Kenneth Brown, a deceased informant.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: An official government committee has finalized a draft law on combating money laundering. The draft law has yet to be submitted to the cabinet and will propose measures to fight laundering and suggests punishment ranging from five years to 15 years' imprisonment and fines of at least 100,000 dirhams ($27,000).

        The government said reports about alleged rampant money laundering through its banks were exaggerated.

NEW YORK: A biography of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani claims several members of his family had ties to the New York mobs.

        The book, :Rudy: An Investigative Biography of Rudolph Giuliani" was written by Village Voice reporter Wayne Barrett and portions of it were printed in this week's Voice.

        Barrett writes that Giuliani's father, Harold, pleaded guilty and served 18 months in prison for holding up a milkman at gunpoint in the 1930s and that in the early 1960s, Harold, his brother and a cousin took part in a gunfight on a Brooklyn Street.

        The uncle, Leo D'Avanzo, was a mob-connected loanshark, the book says. He, his son Lewis and the mayor's father had gone looking for a mobster with whom they were having a loan-sharking dispute, the book said. There apparently were no injuries in the ensuing exchange of gunfire, the book said.

        Lewis D'Avanzo, Leo's son, was, the book claims, a mob associate who specialized in stolen vehicles, and was linked by the FBI to several underworld murders. He was killed by FBI agents in Brooklyn in 1977.

        Another Giuliani cousin, Joan Ellen D'Avanzo, who was raised in the same house as Giuliani, became an addict and was beaten to death in 1973, according to the book.

        The mayor did not dispute claims made by the book but said "I think I'll stand on my record as having prosecuted or put in prison more members of the Mafia than probably any US attorney in history, having been threatened with death by them at least three times -- four times seriously going back to when I was an assistant US attorney. If that's not enough to remove the Mafia prejudice than there's probably nothing you could do to remove it. Is there anybody who's done more to end the influence of the Mafia than me?"

Mr. Tuohy can be reached at

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