Mafia money laundering taints Gore

AL GORE, the politically accident-prone United States Vice-President, returned from his holiday this week to find himself once again in the hot seat, this time over reports of massive Russian money-laundering through the Bank of New York, and possibly several other American banks.

Fairly or not, the Russian money scandal, which is now the subject of criminal investigations in the US, Britain, Switzerland and Russia, has been seized on by Mr Gore's rivals as a stick with which to beat him. The risks to his presidential bid are considerable.

Mr Gore is taking the rap for as yet unproved charges that highly placed Russians diverted millions of dollars from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans into private bank accounts abroad, because he is the joint chairman of the US-Russia intergovernmental committee (which was set up to keep relations an even keel through Russia's post-Soviet reforms).

The awful irony for Mr Gore is that he was given this portfolio by President Bill Clinton so that he could gain hands-on experience and credibility in a major area of foreign policy. For the duration of Mr Gore's tenure, however, US-Russia relations have been fraught with volatility.

Russia has had no fewer than five prime ministers. Nato's military intervention in Kosovo set relations on a knife-edge. And now there is the fallout from allegations that appeared first in the New York Times about Russian money-laundering to the tune of perhaps $15bn (pounds 3.1bn) through US banks.

While the allegations were focused on money presumed to have come from Russian organised crime, the damage to Mr Gore could be limited. But the emphasis soon shifted to claims that highly placed Russian officials were involved, and that the cash may have been IMF loans diverted abroad.

In the past 48 hours, no fewer than five of Mr Gore's potential opponents, including his sole rival for the Democratic nomination, former senator Bill Bradley, have questioned his part in handling US relations with Russia. If he knew about the extent to which funds were being diverted, the argument goes, he should have insisted on more accountability from Moscow; if he did not know, he was incompetent.

Perhaps the most caustic comments came from Mr Bradley, who said that "several factors, including shortsighted US policy", had contributed to Russia's struggle to effect an economic transformation. "Our assistance and lending policies have done very little to further our strategic goal, the needs of the Russian people or the cause of Russian reform," he said in a statement.

On the Republican side, Elizabeth Dole said Mr Gore had "failed in his only major foreign policy effort". Condoleezza Rice, a Russia expert and senior foreign policy adviser to George W Bush, said: "The big question that troubles me is did we have a good system of accountability [for the money]?" Senator John McCain called for an immediate halt to IMF loans to Russia and Steve Forbes, the billionaire publisher, commissioned a radio advertisement claiming that "Russia remains an economic and political time bomb" and that Mr Gore owes "the American taxpayer an apology".

The IMF has defended its lending to Russia and maintained that there is no evidence that loan funds were diverted. Mr Gore's office has stressed that the Vice-President consistently pressed Russia to clamp down on corruption and White House officials have condemned the criticism as "political". Mr Gore has so far declined to comment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable