The Superintendent of Banking of Panama (SBP), Ricardo Fernández, has made a public statement, in which he declares that his agency levied civil fines, upon thirteen Panamanian banks, in the total amount of $3.2m, but he refused to identify the financial institutions involved. Fernández asserted that 26 Panamanian banks were investigated, during 2016 to date, out of 94 banks that are licensed to operate in the country.
Some Panama watchers believe that the release of this information is but a feeble response to the recent Standard & Poors report on local banks, which concluded that the firm has changed its outlook, from Stable to Negative, in major part due to serious compliance deficiencies.The failure of government to identify the guilty banks only increases the risks of doing business in the Republic of Panama, and reinforces our opinion that government continues to protect its banks, at the expense of foreign investors, who frequently sustain losses, due to rampant financial crime in Panama.
We unfortunately have no information regarding precisely which banks have been fined, however, coincidentally, there were thirteen banks charged, in June 2015, with criminal conduct, in connection with the PAN scandal. Those banks were named in this blog. See Complaint accuses Thirteen Panama Banks of Laundering Drug Money, June 18, 2016. We call upon the Superintendent of Banking to release the complete details about the banks fined this year, including identifying them, listing the deficiencies that led to the fines, and what has been done to correct those deficiencies. We also want to know the names of the beneficial owners of those banks.