PANAMA has opened an investigation into a Taiwanese bank with local branches that has been hit with a $180 million fine for money laundering.
The announcement came from Banks Superintendent, Ricardo Fernandez after Finance Minister Dulcidio De La Guardia, had blasted the US Department of Financial Services (DFS), for labeling Panama as a "high risk" jurisdiction for money laundering.
The regulator had applied the sanction to Taiwanese Mega International Commercial Bank, for violating US rules on money laundering.
It referred to suspicious activities involving branches of the Asian bank in Panama and New Yotk and said that the country "has historically been recognized as a high-risk jurisdiction for money laundering, and only announced this year that Panama ceased to be subject to a monitoring process by the Group of Financial Activity [FATF]".
The bank has branches on Via Espana and in the Colon Free Zone.
De La Guardia said on Tuesday August 23 that said he received no official communication from the United States Department of the Treasury or the State of New York and rejected the naming of Panama as a high-risk jurisdiction.
"Opening a bank account in this country is complicated, a lot of information is requested. But it's easy to hit the fallen tree. That's what's happening. If the Bank of New York failed to meet standards it is a responsibility of the New York regulator, as it is the responsibility of the Superintendent of Panama's banks to comply with the rules, "he said.