Tuesday March 19,2013 : U.S. GOVERNMENT POINTS THE FINGER AT COSTA RICA OVER MONEY LAUNDERING
Online gambling operators a major source claims US Department of State
The US Department of State claims that internet gambling is among the main money laundering channels operating in Costa Rica, home to mainly sports betting operators for many years.
In an article on the issue this week, the newspaper AM Costa Rica says the latest study comes from the Money Laundering and Financial Crimes division of the U.S. Department of State, which does not appear to have a positive opinion of the central American state's enforcement measures and identifies several other criminal industries that it claims launder funds through the small country.
The US report also claims that substantial amounts of dollar-denominated cash are smuggled across Costa Rica's borders with Panama and Nicaragua.
US officials however give some credit to the Costa Rica government, noting that some progress in anti-money laundering has been made in the country, including Costa Rica’s latest legalization aimed at increasing international tax transparency, although there are "…still several obstacles preventing the Costa Rican government from properly investigating and prosecuting money laundering offenses."
The US view is that Costa Rica "…underutilizes" tools such as cooperating witnesses, confidential informants, electronic surveillance and undercover operations – all deployed effectively in the United States to curtail criminal enterprises.
American officials are also critical of Costa Rica law, in which money laundering cannot be charged as an additional offence to another crime, a policy which “…greatly reduces the number of potential money laundering convictions,” the US report alleges.
The US report claims that unregulated industries operating from Costa Rica such as online casinos and sportsbooks represent significant risks for money laundering