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US lists Argentina as major money laundering country means BUSINESS

WASHINGTON -- Argentina, Curacao, and St Maarten have been designated as "major money laundering countries," a State Department report said Thursday, moving them up a notch on a money laundering watchlist.

The annual International Narcotics Control Strategy report moved Argentina and the two Caribbean island nations to the list of "jurisdictions of primary concern" from the less acute "jurisdictions of concern" category.

Argentina, Curacao and St Maarten join a wide-ranging list of 66 countries that includes Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, the Cayman Islands, China, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uruguay, and Zimbabwe.

The report said the three have become "major money laundering countries," or those "whose financial institutions engage in currency transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from international narcotics trafficking."

As in the previous reports, the March 2012 report has been sent to Congress, State Department officials said.