The commercial ratings companies, Standard & Poors Global Rating, and Fitch Ratings have published reports critical of the Panamanian banking industry, and three specific financial institutions in particular. Coming on the heels of the twin scandals, the Panama Papers, and the Waked cases, they depict a banking structure that readers of those reports may choose to conclude are a warning to stay out of Panama, due to valid risk issues, as well as OECD and FATF positions on Panama.
Ricardo (Mad) Dong Martinelli
The ratings agencies appear to be primarily focused upon the vulnerability of the banks to money laundering, and the facts on the ground support their findings. Money laundering charges, against either Panamanian banks, or individuals bankers, are as rare as hen's teeth, and many years pass, without a single new investigation, by the Superintendent of Banking, let along indictment and conviction. Banks can freely move illicit wealth, without fear of money laundering charges.
The previous Superintendent, Alberto Diamond R., publicly admitted that $17bn in Venezuelan "flight capital" had ended up in Panama City banks, and he even bragged about it, but since he left office, and left the capital, and no investigation of his activities has even been initiated. That should tell you something about the level of corruption in the Panamanian banking industry.
Alberto (Sticky Fingers) Diamond R.
S & P has given three Panama banks a Negative rating:
(3) Latin American Foreign Trade Bank a/k/a Bladex.
While we have been warning our readers for some time about the money laundering risks presented by Panamanian banks, these new ratings findings, when taken with FATF and OECD statements, should settle the issue that Panama's financial industry is, and remains, high risk.
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock
Chronicles of Monte Friesner