Feds sanction Panamá bank and firms

U.S. Officials said Thursday that they have sanctioned a money laundering operation in Panamá and two of its leaders. They said that the action exposes an extensive drug money laundering network based in Panamá.

The action was by the  U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. The agency named Nidal Ahmed Waked Hatum  and Abdul Mohamed Waked Fares as narcotics traffickers involved in money laundering.

The agency also targeted six associates of the organization and 68 companies tied to the drug money laundering network, including Grupo Wisa, S.A., Vida Panama (Zona Libre) S.A., and Balboa Bank & Trust, said the Treasury Department.

The organization uses trade-based money laundering schemes, such as false commercial invoicing, bulk cash smuggling and others to launder drug proceeds on behalf of multiple international drug traffickers and their organizations, said the agency.  As a result of today’s action, all assets of these individuals and entities that are under the jurisdiction of the United States or in the control of U.S. persons are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them, the agency said.

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