Feature Articles

October 30, 2000

Round Up The Usual Suspects 1

By John William Tuohy

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

compiled by John William Tuohy

Liechtenstein: A special prosecutor has dismissed allegations that Liechtenstein was a hotbed of money laundering for organized crime.

     Prosecutor Kurt Spitzer said in his final report "In all I can say that white-collar crime in the principality of Liechtenstein is no different from in other European countries. I have observed that most assets that wound up in the principality to be laundered had already been 'pre-washed' in other countries. This ought to serve as a reminder to those countries which are now pointing the figure at the principality."

     The tiny principality brought in Spitzer from Austria to get to the bottom of allegations in a leaked German intelligence report that the Russian Mafia and Colombian cocaine cartels were funneling profits through the offshore financial center.

     He sent officers in June to seize documents from LGT Bank, owned by the principality's royal family, as part of his high-profile probe that has shaken Liechtenstein's close-knit community of asset managers.

     Several people, including a member of parliament and the brother of the deputy prime minister, were placed in investigative custody in the probe.

     The case has sparked fears in Liechtenstein that major powers including the United States and France could impose sanctions on the principality that could hamstring its role as a prime offshore financial center.

England: Ex-boss of the British underworld, Reggie Kray, is dying of cancer.

     Doctors have given 66-year-old Kray weeks to live, giving him a bittersweet freedom after more than 30 years in prison.

     Along with his identical twin Ronnie and older brother Charlie -- both of whom are now dead -- Reggie won clout on the East End streets of London with his lethal tactics and fame in the glitzy West End clubs for his trailblazing gangster chic.

     Half a century after the infamous family ``Firm'' got to work, a frail Kray was released from jail on compassionate grounds at the weekend so he could fulfill a wish to ``die in dignity.''

     Few expect even Reggie, who is currently too ill to go home, to defeat cancer of the bladder.

     His wife Roberta said Kray would have to stay in hospital at least another week, but at least Reggie would die a free man.

     In their heyday, the twins exuded glamour, appearing in public with stars such as Judy Garland and Diana Dors, and in a portrait by celebrity photographer David Bailey that became a classic image of the swinging 1960s.

     Yet along with all the sharp-suited fun came blood -- lots of it -- as The Firm's brand of extortion, gambling and murder gripped the working-class enclave they ruled.

     Reggie is credited with inventing the ``cigarette punch,'' flooring open-jawed victims with a left uppercut after offering a smoke, and is not one to play down his underworld image.

     The other Kray brothers were buried in traditional East End funerals, with well-wishers lining the route in vast numbers. A similar send-off is expected for Reggie, who has remained in the limelight despite years in a cell.

     Indeed, Kray's release comes as a spate of movies and memoirs make London gangsters fashionable once again.

     The Krays have already had their own film -- it portrayed a dysfunctional family with sexual and emotional hangups -- and Guy Ritchie's ``Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels'' won huge plaudits for its brutal depiction of the East End gang scene.

Mr. Tuohy can be reached at

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