Exchange House Law in Panama

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There is a lot of speculation about the legitimacy of exchange houses in Panama, and since we care a lot about providing our clients with a service framed in security and reciprocal trust; The Eurocash team will take advantage of this informative space to debunk myths and clear up some of the most common doubts on the subject. So, get ready to find out what are the regulations that govern exchange houses in Panama.

What does the law say about currency exchange offices in Panama?

The most important thing for the official Panamanian legislation regarding foreign exchange services is the prevention and laundering of money. That said, every exchange house legally constituted in the Republic of Panama represents a financial obligated subject and, therefore, must rigorously comply with the requirements and guidelines of different laws and agreements; as well as with the due registration with the Superintendency of Banks.

At the end of 2018, the Prevention Agreement for Other Financial Obligated Subjects (No. 002–2018) came into force, stipulating that exchange houses must have a mandatory registration with the Superintendency of Banks. Article 3 of the aforementioned agreement defines exchange houses as “Any natural or legal person that provides services for the purchase and sale of coins, banknotes or other monetary instruments, inside and outside the country, in any of its forms, whether or not its main activity is its main activity”.

After obtaining the certification of registration with the Superintendency of Banks, the exchange house undertakes to comply with the guidelines established in Law 23 of 2015, adopting measures to prevent money laundering, the financing of terrorism and the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

In the event that the exchange house fails to comply with the provisions of Law 23 or any other agreement, the Superintendency of Banks will cancel its registration and, at the same time, request the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to revoke the notice of operation that it has issued to said currency exchange entity.

How do you know if an exchange is legal?

The strict control of the Superintendency of Banks and the rest of the institutions that regulate the activities of exchange houses has contributed to the reduction of illegal or “pirate” exchange houses in the country. However, legal exchange houses show characteristics that make it possible to distinguish them from those that are of dubious origin.

First, the legal exchange houses will have in a visible place the notice of operations of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (which we talked about above). Additionally, a legal exchange house will be located at a point with good external visualization, will have identifying signs and will probably give you proof of the transaction you made, since all the operations carried out must be recorded in the exchange house for the preparation of reports related to the prevention of money laundering.

Most Relevant Laws

Law 45 of June 4, 2003

That it adds Chapter VII, entitled financial crimes, to Title XII of Book Two of the Penal Code, amending articles of the Penal and Judicial Code and Decree Law 1 of 1999 and dictates other provisions. Download the law here

Law 48 of 23 June 2003

It regulates the operations of money remittance houses. Download the law here

Law 50 of 02 July 2003

Which adds Chapter VI, entitled Terrorism, to Title VII of Book II of the Penal Code and dictates other provisions. Download the law here

Law 23 of 27 July 2015

That adopts measures to prevent Money Laundering, Financing of Terrorism and Financing of the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and dictates other provisions. Download the law here