HomeNewsBriefPanama Withdrawn from Money Laundering 'Gray List'
BRIEF

Panama Withdrawn from Money Laundering 'Gray List'

MONEY LAUNDERING / 19 FEB 2016 BY ARRON DAUGHERTY EN

Panama has been removed from an international money laundering watch list, a major step towards cleaning up the Central American nation's reputation as a safe haven for illicit financial transactions.

In a February 19 press release, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) announced it has taken Panama off its money laundering and terrorism financing watch list. Known as the "gray list," it identifies the countries that lack sufficient anti-money laundering legislation and regulations.

FATF placed Panama on its watch list in June 2014 after a 2012 International Monetary Fund delegation found significant flaws in Panama's anti-money laundering practices.

Panama has since introduced legal and regulatory framework to address anti-money laundering deficiencies identified by FATF. "Panama is therefore no longer subject to the FATF’s monitoring process," the release states.

President Juan Carlos Varela celebrated FATF's announcement on Twitter, thanking Panama's civil society and private sector for working "shoulder to shoulder" with the government to improve the country's anti-money laundering standards. 

InSight Crime Analysis 

Panama's removal from the gray list is significant considering its reputation as a money laundering hub that stretches back decades. 

Under military dictator Manuel Noriega in the 1980s, Panama became known as a major safe haven for criminal proceeds, with organizations like Colombia's powerful Medellín Cartel stashing and laundering illicit profits there. 

Panama's reputation as a financial safe haven was built on corruption, a dollarized economy and geographical proximity to Colombia, a major drug producing nation that has a large criminal economy.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Panama

But powerful incentives also kept Panama from shedding its money laundering notoriety. The country's lax financial regulations are credited with facilitating Panama's robust banking sector and shipping industry, which have helped deliver an impressive six percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in recent years. 

Nonetheless, Panama's anti-money laundering advances come with their own financial incentives. Some Panamanian banks may now be able to attract international business opportunities that were lost after the country was placed on the gray list. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 22 NOV 2021

For the last few weeks, the twists and turns in the case of the Pharaoh of Bitcoins have constantly made…

COCAINE / 17 NOV 2022

InSight Crime sat down with Suriname's President Chan Santokhi to discuss the multiple criminal challenges ahead for the country.

ELITES AND CRIME / 11 FEB 2021

Mexico's tax authority has dismissed Ramón García Gibson, one of its highest-ranking officials, for “evident conflicts of interest” and his…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…