HomeNewsBriefUruguay Anti-Money Laundering Chief Targets Churches and NGOs
BRIEF

Uruguay Anti-Money Laundering Chief Targets Churches and NGOs

MONEY LAUNDERING / 28 MAR 2014 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

Uruguay's anti-money laundering chief has called for greater oversight of religious groups and non-governmental organizations, fearing organized crime to take advantage of current lax regulations.

During an anti-corruption conference on March 25, Carlos Diaz, director of Uruguay's Anti-Money Laundering Secretariat, emphasized the necessity to revise financial controls over the country's more than 15,000 social organizations -- including sports clubs, political parties, and churches -- saying they should be subject to the same oversight as institutions such as real estate or auctioneers, reported El Pais.

Diaz said the emergence of "a new world" of money laundering has led to a need for the adoption of fresh measures, citing concerns over the presence of groups like the Italian mafias the Cosa Nostra and 'Ndrangheta in the area and saying Uruguay needs to avoid religious institutions -- which are tax exempt -- being converted into financers of "terrorist acts."

According to El Espectador, Diaz said that despite Uruguay not being a large drug market, it still faced a threat from organized crime because of the money laundering possibilities its financial system presents. Diaz mentioned two past examples of a Sinaloa Cartel operative and the family member of a Colombian president attempting to launder money through the country.

InSight Crime Analysis

This is not the first time calls have arisen for increased oversight of Uruguay's non-governmental organizations (NGOs), with an anti-money laundering plan adopted in 2012 including a provision for more stringent controls.

According to a US State Department report, Uruguay's highly dollarized economy -- with the US dollar often used as a business currency -- makes it vulnerable to money laundering. The report cites transnational organized crime, especially that originating in Brazil, to be of concern.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Money Laundering

Uruguay has a zero-tax policy for foreigners, which attracts a host of international bodies and NGOs to bank in the country. Over the past two decades, Uruguay's banking sector has also been bolstered by the rollercoaster economy of neighbor Argentina, with Argentines pulling money out of their homeland during times of economic distress and investing it in Uruguay, among other countries.

The combination of zero tax, lax oversight and a strong banking sector with safe investor prospects is extremely attractive to organized criminal elements looking to launder illicit funds. 

Argentina is also another prominent venue for money laundering, with tensions breaking out between the two neighbors in September 2013 over apparent hurdles encountered by Uruguayan investigators of a money laundering case that stretched between the two nations. 

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

MONEY LAUNDERING / 16 AUG 2013

Panama is the financial and commercial center of Central America, but also, historically, it is where drug traffickers launder money.

DRUG POLICY / 22 MAR 2018

A new report studying marijuana legalization in Uruguay suggests that the industry has a sustainable future despite some expected…

ELITES AND CRIME / 24 APR 2017

A senator-elect from Haiti pleaded guilty in a US federal court to money laundering charges, raising the question of whether…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…