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First National Conference for Financial Intermediaries: Prevention of Money Laundering, Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Anti-Corruption

On 9 April 2014, the first National Conference for Financial Intermediaries: Prevention of Money Laundering, Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Anti-Corruption, was hosted in Panama City, Panama.

This conference was organized by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MICI according to its acronym in Spanish) and carried out under the auspices of the Financial Analysis Unit (UAF according to its acronym in Spanish); the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for Central America and the Caribbean (UNODC ROPAN); the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (ANTAI according to its acronym in Spanish); the Regional Anti-Corruption Academy for Central America and the Caribbean (ARAC); and the U.S. Embassy in Panama.

The conference was designed to facilitate the sharing of best practices and the exchange of information in the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the 40 Recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to prevent money laundering through economic activities such as Free Trade Zones, Real Estate agencies, Financiers, and Pawnshops, amongst others.

It is noteworthy to mention that this conference takes place just a few weeks after the publication of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) report which highlights some of the challenges facing the financial system in Panama. In this regard, Dr. Amado Philip de Andrés, UNODC Regional Representative for Central America and the Caribbean, noted that applicable law should be reformed in the fight against money laundering in order to ensure that reports of suspicious operations by financial and other entities in Panama is done more immediately, bearing in mind that the current deadline for reporting to the UAF is 60 days. Dr. de Andrés stressed that after the first 48 hours have elapsed, it becomes more difficult to obtain evidence that supports the investigations of the Public Ministry. Likewise, he also recommended the expansion of the list of those entities required to report suspicious transactions given that, casinos and real estate agencies, for example, are not obligated to do so.