More money is laundered through Costa Rica than any other Central American country, according to a study presented by the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE).

Of the estimated $14 billion laundered in Central American countries between 2000 and 2009, more than $4 billion passed through Costa Rica’s financial sector, found the study.

It was followed in the ranking by Panama, then Honduras and Guatemala.

According to the U.S. State Department’s 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, the large amount of annual remittances to foreign countries via Costa Rica’s unlicensed non-bank institutions provides criminals with the means to hide money laundering activities. The increasing economic activity due to the growth of the country’s virtually unregulated gambling industry is of particular concern, because such industries are typically used to launder illicit drug money, according to the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF).

Costa Rica is also used a transit point for shipments of drugs going from South to North America. A representative of the BCIE indicated that the majority of money laundered in Costa Rica comes from drug trafficking.

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