The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC, which is currently engaged in lengthy peace talks with the Government of Colombia, has now demanded a General Amnesty for all its members, as a necessary element of any comprehensive peace treaty. While such a provision may facilitate the ultimate integration of individuals into Colombia's economy and social structure, it represents a clear and present danger to the global banking industry. Why ? Because of the massive proceeds of crime, including narco-profits, illegally earned by the FARC, much of which has been laundered, and placed outside Colombia, in foreign banks, and in investments.
The FARC, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) organization, has supported itself through crime, principally drug trafficking and kidnapping, for decades. Its agents have laundered, and secreted, criminal profits abroad, using banks in Panama, and other offshore financial centers, to move criminal proceeds not needed for ongoing operations.
While the FARC leadership may surrender a portion of those funds, in connection with a peace agreement, you can be certain that a large part of those criminal profits will never be disclosed, given the FARC's long and sordid history of deception. One must therefore assume that a lot of that money will remain hidden, or withdrawn by FARC money managers, to prevent its discovery by the authorities.
A General Amnesty means that banks that are unwittingly holding FARC funds could be approached later, by former FARC agents, now with no criminal records, to withdraw funds. They may even be members of a future "Unity" government, giving them even more legitimacy. The compliance officers will have no way of knowing that the individuals sitting in front of them are ex-FARC, and could be guilty of homicide, kidnapping, and human rights violations, not the sort of people you want as clients.
Will the subsequent disclosure of the criminal origin of the withdrawn funds expose the bank to OFAC sanctions violations ? This could present a potential problem in the future. Will banks be forced to require Source of Funds verification on all large withdrawals by Colombian nationals for the indefinite future ? It may be the only way for the banks to protect themselves.
|FARC officials demanding General Amnesty|