The Waked Money Laundering Organization. which, conservatively, moved over a billion dollars of drug profits into Panama, has demonstrated, again, that the country's banking industry has no existing anti-money laundering system. The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) disclosed this week that it first began to investigate Waked in 2006, after a large seizure of cash, inbound from Mexico, was interdicted upon arrival in Panama.
DEA statements, that the Wakeds laundered $2m in dirty cash, each week, in the Republic of Panama, confirms that drug profits are not only welcomed in Panama City, it is the lifeblood of the banking industry. Waked's operation was an open secret for several years, yet the Government practices its own version of Willful Blindness. You cannot tell me that it did not know the truth about Waked's immense cash flow*.
Apparently the only people in Panama who are upset about the Waked scandal are those who blame the US for the potential loss of 5000 Waked front company jobs, and who say that the case is an attack upon the Panamanian financial system; it is all a poor attempt at spin control.
Given that Panama refuses to implement effective reforms, should we now listen to those who believe that Panama's dollarized economy, which facilitates its massive money laundering industry, should now be forced, by the United States, to totally abandon its use of US currency, and issue the Balboa ? That would, some say, fatally contract its banks' ability to clean narco-profits. It would also shut down Panama as the prime offshore financial center of Central America, but given the rampant financial crime, it is a comparatively small price to pay.
Remember, former Superintendent of Banking, Alberto Diamond R, openly bragged that more than $15bn in "flight capital" entered his country's banking system from Venezuela.
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