|Coat of Arms of Panama City|
Businessmen in the Republic of Panama are reporting a large and suspicious movement of Lebanese nationals, arriving into their county via a circuitous route. The precise intent of these individuals is unknown, but given the relationship between Venezuela's radical leftist Maduro government, and the internationally-sanctioned terrorist organization known as Hezbollah, which has long enjoyed safe harbor in Venezuela, it must be assumed that these new arrivals are in Panama City to use its financial center for illicit purposes.
The sources have noted that the Lebanese arrive in Caracas, where they illegally acquire legitimate Venezuelan and Panamanian passports (see our recent article on the subject), and then board commercial flights into Panama. Given the recent American anti-Hezbollah legislation, which severely penalizes any Beirut bank found to be conducting transactions with the terrorist organization, it is quite possible that Hezbollah money managers (read: money launderers) are switching to Panama's notoriously "willfully blind" banks, to move their funds on a global scale, especially criminally-derived income.
Therefore, any prudent compliance officer, at a financial institution located in North America, or Europe, would do well to pay particular attention to increased traffic from Panamanian banks, especially wire transfers whose ultimate destination is elsewhere, or which are forthwith transferred out, upon receipt at your bank. The last thing that any Western compliance officer wants is for his or her bank to run afoul of the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act.
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