Panama Seizes Bank Accused Of Money Laundering

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Panama’s banking superintendency has taken control of Banca Privada D’Andorra after the bank’s Andorra-based headquarters was accused of money laundering.

Panama’s banking superintendent said in a statement that the seizure was made to protect depositors. Given Panama’s recent focus on cracking down on money laundering in order to remove itself from the Financial Action Task Force’s “gray” list, the decisive action comes as little surprise given the allegations against the bank.

The day before the seizure, the U.S. Treasury identified Banca Privada D’Andorra as under investigation for money laundering. The bank allegedly laundered US$2 billion from the Venezuelan state oil company as well as from Chinese and Russian organized crime.

In Andorra, the bank was placed under state control and imposed a 2,500 euro withdrawal limit on depositors following announcement of the U.S. investigation. Meanwhile, in Spain, Banca Privada D’Andorra’s subsidiary filed for bankruptcy protection.

The Andorran government remains optimistic about the situation, with Finance Minister Jordi Cinca telling local television that the country is committed “to preserve our position as a world-class financial center.”

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