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Monaco: Principality under pressure

There's a bully in Monaco's playground, and he's brought his gang along for support. Out to spoil the fun in the sun on the Côte d'Azur, France has announced it is cracking down on Monaco's money-laundering, tax-haven culture.

Christina White

Prince Rainier

It's far from a random authoritarian attack on the unsuspecting principality. France has the backing of international organizations, and can cite reports and symposiums issued recently on the hot topic of fighting financial crime. A report released in October by the French ministry of finance condemns "an important gap between law and reality", specifically attacking the tax and money-laundering systems.

Although France and Monaco have the same financial laws, Monaco, whose banks fall under the supervision of French central bank, the Banque de France, doesn't adequately enforce the laws in a relationship that depends on cooperation. Criticisms cited in the report were directed at the understaffed Financial Intelligence Unit, formed to combat money laundering, at financial institutions that don't declare bank accounts, the tax system offering major concessions to taxpayers compared with France's, and the casino, owned by the reigning Grimaldis and suspected of being used in money laundering.

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