Banking Bounces Back

Feb 1, 2002

After being blacklisted by an international task force for failing to cooperate with anti money-laundering efforts, Panama's banking sector has regained some stature and is poised for growth.

The thrusting buildings of the Panama City skyline, bearing the names of some of the world's best known financial institutions, are emblematic of how important banking remains to the country's economy. In an attempt to preserve that role, the country's banking superintendency, headed by Delia Cárdenas, has had to work hard in the past 18 months to fight charges that Panama was not co-operating in fighting money laundering.

The superintendency was vindicated last June when Panama was removed from a 'blacklist' of non-co-operative jurisdictions, which had been circulated 12 months previously by the Financial Action Task Force, the anti money-laundering unit of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Cárdenas recalls the FATF blacklist as "one of the biggest challenges this institution has had." She says public and private sectors cooperated to get required laws approved (in October 2000), and to streamline reporting of suspicious transactions to...

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