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U.S. Keeps Belize on List of Money-Laundering Hubs

LADB Article ID: 80350
Category/Department: Belize
Date: 2017-07-20
By: Louisa Reynolds

Belize has been named by the US Department of State as one of the Caribbean nations that engage in laundering the proceeds of drug trafficking due to its strategic geographical location, strong bank secrecy protections, lack of enforcement of laws and regulations, and weak investigatory and prosecutorial capacity. According to the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Belize’s two Free Trade Zones – the Corozal Free Zone with 282 businesses, located on the border with Mexico, and the Benque Viejo Free Zone, located on the western border with Guatemala, “are routinely used to move money across borders and to facilitate the illegal importation of duty free products.” Added to this, Belize allows financial activities that are commonly used for money laundering purposes, such as offshore banks, insurance companies, trust service providers, mutual fund companies, and international banking corporations. However, the report acknowledges that Belizean authorities have taken steps to tackle the problem, such as amending its Money Laundering and Terrorism (Prevention) Act in 2016 to include the funding of terrorist organizations as a crime that needs to be addressed.

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