As more details emerge in Miami-Dade County, regarding a discredited undercover law enforcement operation that directly wired more than $70m in narco-profits overseas, yet failed to arrest a single person, Panama's banks were the preferred destination of the traffickers involved. A scandal, involving officers of the Bal Harbour, Florida Police Department, who have failed to account for large sums allegedly spent without any records or receipts, has revealed the specifics of the cash received by the undercover operation, and promptly wired out to tax haven jurisdictions, zeroes in on Panama.
Of the 180 international wire transfers, 110 were sent into Panamanian financial institutions. This confirms that the Republic of Panama remains a major, if not the principal, gateway for narcotics profits earned in North America. There have been no prosecutions, of financial institutions, for money laundering for several years, let alone convictions or bank charter revocations. That is one of the reasons why Panama is the destination of choice.
In the year since the new, reformist, government came to office, no financial institutions have been charged, notwithstanding the massive Financial Pacific/Petaquilla Mining and PAN scandals, and widespread arrests for official corruption. It is still business as usual for Panama's money laundering financial institutions.
Will Panama be blacklisted by the FATF in 2016 ? That's the question that risk management professionals are asking; It appears that the answer is self-evident.
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