Local March 21, 2014 | 10:38 am

Legalized pot helps money launderers, expert warns

Santo Domingo.-The legalization of marijuana in Uruguay and in some U.S. cities poses a threat to the financial system, including Dominican Republic’s, because drug traffickers can use it to launder money.

It would also force more restrictions on banks’ internal controls and fine-tune programs to identify their customers and determine the origin of the funds.

Bancamerica money laundering expert Claudia Alvarez said banks await regulations and aren’t accepting funds from legalized drugs in the U.S. and Uruguay for now.

She noted however that this doesn’t mean that banks will have to accept that kind of customer, because it’s a decision based on their appetite for risk.

Interviewed by eldia.com.do, Alvarez said the issue affects Dominican Republic and the region in two ways: one is that sectors will start pressing to also legalize marijuana as in Puerto Rico, the other is that local banks run the risk of having customers who operate in countries where the drug has been legalized, "and try to transfer those funds from that area to ours."

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