Panama’s President Blocks Crypto Bill as FATF Pressure Mounts

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Panama’s President Laurentino Cortizo has partially vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for the Central American country to adopt cryptocurrency. Cortizo said the bill, which was approved by the country’s legislature in April, needs to adhere to guidelines recommended by the Financial Action Task Force ( FATF). 

The FATF is an intergovernmental financial-crime watchdog that had already voiced concerns about Panama’s policies and about money laundering involving cryptocurrency.

Panama Remains on FATF’s Grey List

Panama, which ranks among the top countries for money laundering and terrorism financing, was added to the FATF’s “grey list” in mid-2019. At the time, Panama’s financial leaders “made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and GAFILAT to strengthen the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime,” according to FATF.

However, the country has since remained on FATF’s grey list. Earlier this year, the FATF asked Panama to provide an “action plan” by June detailing how the country plans to combat money laundering and terror financing. A deadline that Panama missed. 

In its latest announcement, the intergovernmental watchdog included Panama on its list and urged the country to complete its action plan by June. “The FATF strongly urges Panama to swiftly demonstrate significant progress in completing its action plan by June 2022 or the FATF will consider next steps,” the task force said.

The FATF is an intergovernmental organization tasked with combating money laundering and terrorist financing. The watchdog has maintained a “black list” as well as a “grey list” since 2000. Countries on the grey list face restrictions in the financial services sector, while those on the black list may be subject to economic sanctions by members of the…

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