Pubdate: Sun, 25 Jan 2009
Source: International Herald-Tribune (International)
Copyright: International Herald Tribune 2009

VIENNA: The United Nations' crime and drug watchdog has indications
that money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks
afloat in the global financial crisis, its head was quoted as saying
on Sunday.

Vienna-based UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in an
interview released by Austrian weekly Profil that drug money often
became the only available capital when the crisis spiralled out of
control last year.

"In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment
capital," Costa was quoted as saying by Profil. "In the second half of
2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid
capital became an important factor."

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime had found evidence that
"interbank loans were funded by money that originated from drug trade
and other illegal activities," Costa was quoted as saying. There were
"signs that some banks were rescued in that way."

Profil said Costa declined to identify countries or banks which may
have received drug money and gave no indication how much cash might be
involved. He only said Austria was not on top of his list, Profil said.

(Reporting by Boris Groendahl; Editing by Charles Dick)
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