February 1, 2001
Panama's long-standing reputation as a tax haven caused international banking to flourish there for decades. In the past few years however, this status has raised concern that the country was acting as a magnet for money laundering by the world's powerful drug cartels, as well as for other illegally gained profits. The country's $38 billion international banking industry suffered a blow last year when it was branded non-cooperative in the fight against global money laundering.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering blacklisted Panama last May. The move surprised Panamanian regulators who believed they had
Panama quickly responded to an international blacklisting by passing new bank laws that prove its commitment to get tough on money launderers and their crimes.