After weeks of sensational press reports outlining allegations that billion of dollars from Russia–possibly including International Monetary Fund credits–were laundered through the Bank of New York, the Group of Seven industrialized nations pressured the IMF to hold off on the next tranche of its latest multibillion dollar loan to Russia until the authorities in Moscow meet a new set of conditionalities. The Russian side will now have to audit its hard currency reserves every three months, take measures to strengthen its control over budgetary expenditures and submit an anti-moneylaundering law to the State Duma. Russian officials in Washington for talks with officials of the U.S. government and the IMF were apparently quite annoyed by these new conditions: One of them, Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko, called them “nonsense.”
Another Russian official, Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, remained upbeat, predicting that Russia would receive the next IMF tranche-$640 million of which will go to pay off Moscow’s old debts to the Fund–at the end of this month or the beginning of November. Kasyanov said that the money laundering scandal was being “fed by political sources” in the United States and predicted that it would soon “die away.” Some Russian observers–among them, NTV television–hinted that more revelations concerning the scandal were in the pipeline, including fresh evidence linking Kremlin corruption and the Bank of New York money laundering scandal, and that this could imperil further IMF lending to Russia.