San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Banco Popular Fingered In Superintendence Report

The Superintendence of Financial Entities (SUGEF) has fingered Banco Popular in a report in which it found that the public bank may not meet norms required to enforce the country’s moneylaundering laws.

A SUGEF study found irregular movement of capital through a dozen bank accounts whose deposits exceeded the maximum amount agreed upon at the time the accounts were opened, the daily La Nación reported.

The study of 60 accounts found 12 accounts in the names of business and people with irregularities.

The irregular cases included a salesman who reported a $200 monthly income but moved more than $1 million through his account within 14 months, a Golfito saleswoman who moved nearly $750,000 through her account in 14 months, and a glass business that reported monthly  income of $38,000, but which had transactions in one day that exceeded that amount.

Banks  are required to report such irregularitiesto SUGEF. But SUGEF says Popular lacks the specialized software to centralize the monitoring of transactions.

The bank could be fined if it doesn’t get into compliance with Costa Rica’s moneylaundering law.

Bank Manager Gerardo Porras declined to comment since the bank is in the process of responding to SUGEF, the daily reported. The article was written by journalist David Leal.

Last month, state investigators raided the accounting offices of Banco Popular in San José and seized documents confirming that the bank had hired private detectives to weed out bank personnel who were leaking information to Leal.

The July 6 raid came after authorities detained a man who had allegedly presented false documents in an attempt to get access to the Leal’s cell phone records. Leal has published a string of stories on bad investments and problems with the bank’s technology that may have led to the bank’s recent losses.


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