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Panamanian President Laurentino Cortiso said that he would not sign a bill on the regulation of cryptocurrencies in the country until it spelled out tougher measures to combat money laundering.
In April, panama’s National Assembly (AN) Economic Affairs Committee approved a bill to regulate digital assets. It is aimed at making it easier for cryptocurrency exchanges to obtain licenses to operate in Panama. If the bill comes into force, the government will also use blockchain to transparently store archival documents. Proponents of the initiative believe that this will make Panama the digital center of Latin America and attract investment from companies engaged in financial technology.
For the law to come into force, the document must be signed by the President of the country. However, Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo said that for this he needed guarantees of compliance of the draft law with international standards for combating money laundering (AML). Cortiso said he was discussing the document with legal professionals.
“I have no doubt that this is an innovative bill. However, it is necessary to work more carefully on the international regulation of crypto assets. The information available is insufficient to sign the bill. With regard to anti-money laundering items, special care must be taken,” Cortizo said, speaking at the Bloomberg New Economy Gateway Latin America conference in Panama.
The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) has included Panama in a “grey list” of jurisdictions that pay insufficient attention to combating money laundering and terrorism. Therefore, the Cortizo administration has committed to implementing the FATF recommendations and tightening control over the country’s financial sector, since Panama is considered an attractive “target” for drug traffickers from Colombia and Mexico laundering their income, including using cryptocurrencies.
Last year, Gabriel Silva, a member of the Panamanian parliament, suggested that the Panamanian authorities follow the example of El Salvador and legalize bitcoin as a means of payment in order to accelerate its implementation.
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