US Downgrades Argentina Over Money Laundering

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Argentina was listed as a country of “primary concern” for money laundering in the latest State Department report, which calls on the country to “urgently address” deficiencies in its handling of the crime.

The·International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), published annually by the US State Department, moved Argentina down from the “Countries of Concern” category. According to the report, numerous observers, both international and within Argentina, have said that the country’s financial system is a site for laundering money from drugs trafficking, corruption and contraband.

The report notes Argentina’s failure to comply with 46 of 49 Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendations, and the lack of judicial processes against money laundering. In the last two years there have been only two convictions for money laundering, and five prosecutions are ongoing.

InSight Crime Analysis

Argentina’s inclusion in the “Country of Primary Concern” section marks the first time the US has criticized the country in this way, reported Clarin. It joins some 66 others listed in the section, including South American countries such as Bolivia, Brazil, and Colombia.

The report notes that drug funds are an important driver of money laundering. The country is·a key transshipment point for drug flights going to Europe. It is also·an attractive site for traffickers to base themselves, with·prominent figures within the Mexican and Colombian underworld allegedly using Argentina to hide out.

One example of this came last year when the alleged financial head of a cartel linked to Daniel “El Loco,” Barrera was arrested in Argentina for allegedly running a money laundering operation through one of the country’s soccer clubs.

Argentina narrowly escaped sanctions from the FAFT in February 2011, when the body ruled that the government was “fully cooperating” with its recommendations.

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