The agency that regulates banking in Peru estimates that $5.3 billion in illicit funds have passed through the country’s financial system so far this year.
Because of the difficulty in detecting illicit funds, the real amount laundered through Peru’s banks could be at least seven times higher, according to a white collar crime expert quoted by El Comercio. Drug trafficking is believed to account for 83 percent of the money laundered in the country’s banking system.
To obscure the origin of illegal money, transnational criminal organizations employ schemes like “smurfing,” where illicit funds are deposited in amounts small enough to avoid detection by regulators, and use front men who have no links to organized crime and won’t raise suspicion when carrying out large transactions.
Peru has too few trained financial investigators to combat the well-funded criminal networks laundering illegal profits through banks. However, the government passed financial reforms in June to increase regulation of the banks and the gambling industry, which is a prime target for criminals seeking to launder money.