In brief

  • The biggest banks in Mexico are the most attractive option for money launderers, a report claims.
  • Fintech and cryptocurrency is not mentioned in the report—despite being attractive to criminals elsewhere.
  • Mexican banks have long had problems with money laundering.

Banks in Mexico are the most attractive to money launderers in the country, a new report has claimed. As originally reported by Mexican daily El Economista, the largest banks in Mexico—the G7—are at the most risk of being used for money laundering.  

The news report published last week looks at the results of the National Risk Assessment (ENR) of money laundering and financing of terrorism by the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit. 

Its findings say that despite the G7 banks being the most regulated, the highest amount of dirty money passes through them. The G7 comprises the biggest banks in Mexico: Citibanamex, BBVA Bancomer, Banco Santander Mexico, Banorte, HSBC Mexico, Scotiabank Inverlat, and Banco Inbursa. 

The report says that, previously, four sectors of the financial system were considered most likely to be used for money laundering. But now, the G7 and banks that carry out foreign exchange activity are the most likely culprits out of any financial institutions in Latin America’s second-largest economy. 

The report fails to mention the risks of cryptocurrency exchanges or fintech companies—both typically thought to be attractive for those wanting to “wash” dirty proceeds. Mexico is home to the most fintech startups in Latin America. And the country is also home to Tauros, the region’s first crypto debit card. 

Though, according to the report, at least, criminal groups in the country still prefer traditional finance. 

 

Banks in Mexico have long had trouble with money laundering. In 2012, HSBC agreed to pay a record $1.92 billion in fines to US authorities after Mexican and Colombian drug cartels were found to be using the bank to launder drug money.