Regular readers of the Financial Crime Blog know that the former Panamanian Superintendent of Banking, Alberto Diamond R, who fled from Panama when he left his position, boasted openly that he was responsible for the arrival of $17m, in Venezuelan capital, into Panamanian banks. However, what we have not previously covered is Diamond's approval of the purchase, of large amounts of stock, of Panama's biggest banks, from Venezuelan nationals who would not have passed even the most rudimentary due diligence investigation, prior to purchase.
Diamond covertly signed off on several major Panamanian bank stock purchases, made on behalf of some of Venezuela's most corrupt PEPs, who are referred to in the local press as the Bolivarian Elite. these are amoral Caracas businessmen, whose illicit relationship with senior government officials, generate billions of dollars, much of which comes from obscenely overpriced government contracts, bribes & kickbacks, back room deals that take money from the people of Venezuela, narcotics trafficking, and financial transactions that are padded to include undisclosed "commissions" and payments.
Additionally, Diamond's most unpardonable sin: allowing senior Venezuelan government officials, reportedly including the country's president, Nicolas Maduro, to buy stock in Panamanian banks, with bribe and kickback money, in amounts that far exceed their salaries and legitimate assets.
That money, by no stretch of the imagination, is suitable for the purchase of shares of stock in Panamanian financial institutions. A large portion of it was bulk cash smuggled into Panama's Albrook International Airport, and couriered directly into Panama City banks, meaning that there is no paper trail for investigators to follow, in tracing the beneficial owners.
None of the Venezuelan buyers, and their nominees or shell companies, should have ever been approved for bank stock purchases, and Panamanians have Alberto Diamond R to thank for it; he reportedly received huge bribe payments to facilitate the transactions and he has now left Panama, for parts unknown. Now Panama, whose new reform government is trying to clean up the systemic bank and government official corruption, faces an uphill battle, which it may not win.
It is a shame that Panama abolished the death penalty in the Constitution of 1941, for Diamond's crimes are so monstrous that a life sentence seems inadequate. He has blackened Panama's financial image so badly, that Panama's relegation to the FATF blacklist, the graveyard for non-cooperative jurisdictions, beckons on the horizon.