A Money Launderer’s Paradise

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Ricardo Swire



CARICOM internal security officials have keenly monitored Argentina’s money laundering safe haven popularity. Influential transnational criminal organizations have utilized the South American Federal Republic to clean hundreds of millions of tainted dollars annually. Argentina has diplomatic embassies in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and St Lucia, imprinting a permanent presence in the Caribbean. Over time Argentina has introduced conventionalized financial instruments to boost its problematic national currency.


From July 1, 2011 a “Certificate of Deposit” or “Cedin” allowed individuals, hoarding undeclared US cash, to trade the foreign currency for a Certificate Slip, officially backed by the Argentine government. Previously such practice was illegal in Argentina. Now, due to the country’s constantly rising inflation, plus loss of trust in its financial system, the Cedin is one of two government bonds introduced to promote domestic real estate investment.


In the first quarter of 2013 Argentina’s Central Bank haemorrhaged US$2.84 billion or seven percent of foreign exchange reserves, internal security data indicating Argentina’s undeclared cash was mostly in the hands of local money launderers. The Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) repeated criticisms of Argentina, not adhering to anti-money laundering mandates, gave corrective support. A 2016 “Plea Bargain” court case implicated the former female Argentine president in similar illegal activity.


The country’s most senior politician was linked to money laundering and embezzlement of national funds officially earmarked for public works. Hundreds of millions of dollars travelled via offshore companies in Belize, Panama and the Seyschelles to Swiss Bank accounts. In March 2018 senior Brazilian national security officials accused Argentina’s Federal Intelligence Agency Director-General of partnering in a multi-million dollar money laundering scam, involving several senior Latin American officials.


Since 2014 Brazil’s internal security “Operacao Lava Jata” or “Operation Car Wash” monitored illegal financial practices by targeted private import-export businesses. Another lucrative Argentine money laundering scheme was orchestrated by legendary Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar’s wife and son, while exiled in Argentina, in concert with “Chicho” an ex-Boca Juniors soccer midfielder from Buenos Aires. The trio acted as “intermediaries” for one powerful Colombian organized crime boss.


Such revelations illuminated Argentina’s gullibility to foreign organized criminal schemes. Since the Colombian crime boss’ September 2017 arrest he awaits extradition to America on multiple charges. The May 2018 money laundering trial evidence outlined how the Colombian trafficker was introduced to an Argentine real estate lawyer, who acted as “front man” for the Escobar mother and son team. Several Argentine property sales were transacted, each rewarded with a four point five percent of total investment realized. The Colombian purchaser additionally sourced property directly from the ex-midfielder with two Football World Cup appearances for Argentina. The former Boca Juniors player resides between Argentina and Colombia.





Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.

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