The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) no longer "names & shames" the jurisdictions where money laundering and terrorist financing run rampant, but I believe that it is time to return to that highly effective practice, and my first candidate is the Republic of Panama, where, in my humble opinion, financial crime, and especially money laundering and terrorist financing, are out of control.
Why Panama first and foremost ? Here are but a few of the red flags that I am aware of:
(1) Money laundering of criminal profits, especially those originating from Venezuela and Colombia, into and through major Panamanian banks, is widespread.
(2) Enforcement of the existing anti-money laundering laws is virtually non-existent.
(3) A number of prominent, and sanctioned, Latin American and Middle Eastern and terrorist groups are moving money through Panamanian banks; some even have permanent account relationships there. Funds from some groups are then transferred to Beirut, and others to offshore tax haven countries; some money even enters the United States, where it could forseeably fund terrorist actions.
(4) The Venezuelan air bridge, business jets transporting illicit bulk cash, and arriving regularly at Panamanian general aviation airports, operates without any serious interference from local law enforcement.
(5) Foreign nationals who are the victims of financial crime in Panama rarely obtain justice, through the corrupt criminal court system. The perpetrator's laundering of his illegally-acquired wealth, is never prosecuted in Panama.
(6) The involvement, of Panamanian PEPs, including several at the ministerial level, in corrupt conduct, taints any serious efforts to reign in financial crime.
(7) The powerful Syrian Organized Crime cartel, which owns several banks, and has placed key people in most important government agencies, operates free of any government interference.
There are many more, I think it is high time to Bring back the NCCT List, and place Panama on it, so that US and EU banks can govern themselves accordingly.
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