Actualidad Panama

Inspection procedure for regulated institutions

Resolution SBP 003-2015


In its next stage of creating a regulatory framework for Anti-Money Laundering, at the end of last year Panama’s banking watchdog, the Superintendencia de Bancos, issued Resolution SBP-GJD-0003/2015, applicable to regulated financial institutions (factoring and leasing companies, financial institutions, credit card processors, among others).

The Resolution lays down the procedure to be followed in inspections carried out by the banking watchdog as part of its supervisory function of verifying compliance with and effectiveness of control mechanisms against money laundering (AML) and related crimes, as well as risk-monitoring within each regulated institution.

Among the regulated aspects, The watchdog must issue a “Notice Letter” to each regulated institution, indicating the inspection date, the names of the supervisors assigned, as well as the breakdown of the information to be supplied. Similarly, regulated institutions will have to provide any other information that may be requested during the course of the inspection.

The importance of applying due diligence to customer information is stressed. Regulated institutions will have to store identification about their clients, records of their transactions, the payment systems used, how their businesses are monitored, etc.

Similarly, regulated institutions will have to make IT equipment available to the supervisors, which must comply with the specifications appended to the Resolution. Nevertheless, should it prove impossible to provide this equipment, the Superintendencia de Bancos will use its own.  

There are fines of up to USD 1 million for non-compliance, depending on the severity of the infringement, whether it is a repeat offence and the harm caused to others. The Resolution defines the following as non-compliance:

  1.   Failure to provide information at the beginning of the inspection;
  2.   Failure to provide additional information on the date and in the manner established during the course of the inspection;
  3.   Provision of incomplete, erroneous or inconsistent information affecting the overall quality of the same.

For financial regulated institutions it is helpful to have clarity about the inspections that will be carried out to analyse Anti-Money Laundering (AML) checks, since it will allow them to adapt their internal structures to the new Anti-Money Laundering law.

On 18th February 2016, FATF announced that Panama had been taken off its grey list. This is the consequence of an integrated AML reform, which establishes new parameters and has extended its reach to previously unregulated institutions, including professionals such as accountants, lawyers, notaries and similar.