Latin America Advisor

Financial Services Advisor

A Daily Publication of The Dialogue

How Can Countries Get the Upper Hand Against Money Launderers?

Latin American countries including Colombia have struggled to fight money laundering, according to the Basel Anti-Money Laundering Index. // File Photo: U.S. Army.

Colombia was among the countries whose effectiveness at fighting money laundering declined over the past year, according to the Basel Anti-Money Laundering Index, released by the Basel Institute on Governance. Offshore financial centers, including Grenada and Saint Lucia, are among the index’s lowest-performing countries in fighting money laundering. Why are Colombia and Caribbean nations lagging in the index? What more should they be doing to fight money laundering? Which countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are doing the best job at combating such crimes, and can their practices be emulated elsewhere?

Michael Carter, senior director in the financial crimes team at Alvarez & Marsal: “Indicators that relate directly to any country or region’s ability to fight financial crime include political stability, effectiveness of government, regulatory quality, rule of law and level of violent crime. According to indicia most recently measured by the World Bank, Colombia is among the countries seeing regressions in these measurements. Specifically, Colombia is in the bottom half of countries in three of the five categories, and it ranks in the dismal 16th percentile in political instability and politically-motivated violence. As most countries do not operate in vacuums, it’s no coincidence that the devolving situation in Venezuela could be a contributing factor to Colombia’s money laundering issues as people, capital and criminals flee the country for ‘greener’ pastures. Neighboring Panama is listed as one of FATF’s global high-risk jurisdictions, and Ecuador ranks in the bottom half of all five aforementioned measurements. Grenada and Saint Lucia, however, rank much higher across the World Bank rankings, indicating other sources of money laundering weaknesses. While political stability and quality may not…”

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About the Financial Services Advisor

Covering Latin America’s banking and insurance sectors, remittances trends and data, micro lending issues, new technologies in the industry, anti-money laundering regulations, and much more, the Inter-American Dialogue’s biweekly Financial Services Advisor, a sister publication of the Latin America Advisor, gives readers fresh insight and diverse viewpoints from financial sector leaders. To subscribe or for more information, contact Erik Brand, publisher of the Advisor, at

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