The Russian mafia used Nauru banks to money launder during the 1990s; approximately US$70 billion owned by entities of the Russian mafia were held in Nauru banks. This equated to 700 times the country's annual output. The money was transferred from Russian banks to accounts of banks chartered in Nauru, primarily to evade taxes as an offshore tax haven.
Nauru's role in Russian money laundering has attracted attention from around the world particularly after the September 11 attacks in 2001, when concern increased over the financing of terrorism. The Washington Post reported that: "International authorities say Nauru is increasingly providing cover for Russian organized crime" and quoted a senior US Government official:
The central bank of Russia has come to us and confirmed that large amounts of Russian capital are flowing into and out of Nauru, and that has raised concerns on their part and on ours and certainly raised suspicions.
Nauru's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia
In 2009, Nauru became only the fourth country to recognize the breakaway regions of Georgia, the republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia was reported to be giving Nauru $50m in humanitarian aid in return. Nauru's bilateral relations with Moscow have become even stronger after Nauru has recognized Abkhazia on December 15, 2009 and South Ossetia the next day. Nauru's foreign minister Kieren Keke stated: "I hope that other countries will follow our example and also recognize the independence of Abkhazia". The issue was dealt with in the winter session of the parliament.
- Pacific nation Nauru on brink of collapse The Age, 18 April 2004
- "Nauru said to wash Mafia money". Television New Zealand. 6 December 2001. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
- Henley, Jon (2001-06-23). "Pacific atoll paradise for mafia loot". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "Tiny Island Shelters Huge Cash Flows". The Washington Post. 1999-10-28. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "Tiny Pacific Island Is Facing Money-Laundering Sanctions". The New York Times. 2001-12-06. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "Sinister shell game on Nauru hides a cast of global villains". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2003-04-12.
- "Nauru: Russian paper discusses laundering Russian mafia money". Newsbank. 15 February 2000.
- Harding, Luke (14 December 2009). "Tiny Nauru struts world stage by recognizing breakaway republics". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
- "Russian government officials to visit Nauru for aid grant talks". Radio New Zealand International. 10 February 2010. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
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