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The New York branch of Dutch-based ABN Amro bank has stopped dealing with nearly 100 banks in Eastern Europe and the Carribean after the U.S. Federal Reserve alleged that ABN Amro was a conduit for funds of questionable origin. While the bank has ended its involvement in the suspicious transactions, investigations continue and the bank could still face future action from U.S. regulators.

ABN Amro bank is involved in both the Abbotsford and Vancouver P3 hospitals. The bank is the financial partner in the Access Health Abbotsford consortium, and is in charge of project development, finance and ownership in the Access Health Vancouver consortium.

While the bank says its implementing new policies to prevent money laundering, the Hospital Employees Union, representing CUPE health care workers in B.C., says the links to improper financial dealings should be a red flag against finalizing the Abbotsford P3 contract, which is set to be signed Nov. 30. The sod has already been turned on a P3 out-patient clinic at the Vancouver General Hospital.

ABN Amro is also linked to a failed P3 hospital near Melbourne, Australia. The Latrobe Hospital was to be privately owned and operated for 25 years by Australian Hospital Care Ltd. But just four years after the contract was signed, the consortium sued the state government, saying they werent being paid enough. In October 2000, the state government took control of the hospital, ending the troubled partnership.

ABN Amro was part of Access Health Ottawa, a consortium that failed to win the Royal Ottawa Hospital P3 bid. A similarly named consortium was in the running for the William Osler P3 redevelopment in Brampton. The hospital did not release the corporations involved in each consortium.

The Abbotsford hospital deal is also coming under fire from the Fraser Health Coalition. The group is warning that the B.C. government may unload the current hospital land at a fire-sale price to companies involved in the P3 hospital.