Practical Workshop: The Evolution of Money Laundering in a Financial/Digital Reality

Thursday, 04 May 2023

- SBP highlights the impact of digital transformation in onsite and offsite supervision

The Superintendency of Banks of Panama has adopted tools, such as the digital information transfer system, in the performance of onsite and offsite supervision processes, “which have enabled the drafting and collection of consistent information and statistics related to the impact of supervision through data analytics,” highlighted Vielka Villarreal, Director of Prevention and Control of Illicit Operations at the banking regulator and supervisor.

Ms. Villarreal’s opening remarks were given during the welcome speech at the practical workshop entitled: “The Evolution of Money Laundering in a Financial/Digital Reality.” She referred to the current challenges faced by authorities to combatting this crime.

In this regard, Ms. Villarreal referred to some challenges, included in Gafilat’s regional threat report, published in February 2023, among which there is an important change compared to previous typologies, such as tax crimes and those related to the environment, which show significant increase.

Corruption, bribery, environmental crimes, drug trafficking, COVID-19-related crimes, as well as human trafficking, and illegal cross-border money transfer are other typologies mentioned in the report to which Ms. Villarreal referred.

The Director of Prevention and Control of Illicit Operations at the SBP stated that one of the current challenges is the dynamism of payment means business models, as new reporting entities. In addition, she mentioned the lack of a country-level regulation for the National Payment System that defines its regulatory body with the resources and technology to strengthen the monitoring and supervisory processes.

The training session was organized by the Association of certified Financial Crime Specialists (ACFCS), which is oriented to training professionals from the public and private sectors on AML and controlling financial crimes.

During the presentation, the Director of Prevention and Control of Illicit Operations referred to the criminal structures, methods, and modalities always oriented to neutralize investigation results. “Money launderers learn, at the same time and at the same pace as the Compliance Department, and they have a high level of sophistication. Therefore, financial institutions need to be ahead of their movements,” she stated.

“In Panama, one of the main strategies (to fight these crimes) has been the development and updating of the National Risk Assessment, which has included, among other aspects and in common with the World Bank, the updating of Chapter V on Terrorism Financing. This assessment permitted the identification of threats, risks and vulnerabilities of our banking, financial, and non-financial system in the face of terrorism financing. Additionally, we have implemented the legal persons and trust service providers sectoral risk assessment and, simultaneously, a fiscal crime risk assessment and a national assessment on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are being conducted,” highlighted Ms. Villarreal.

Taller práctico: La Evolución del lavado de dinero hacia una realidad financiera/digital