Montevideo Financial Services

Over the last few years, the Government of Uruguay (GOU) has instituted several legislative and regulatory reforms in connection with the further consolidation of its anti-money laundering program. In December 2003, the Uruguayan Chamber of Representatives approved a bill designed to Limit bank secrecy and confidentiality. The bill is specifically intended to increase credit transparency by eliminating bank secrecy for information pertaining to personal loans, financial credits, mortgages, or similar obligations. The bill does not, however, lift bank secrecy for law enforcement investigations regarding money laundering or terrorist finance.

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A series of Central Bank regulations require banks (including offshore), Currency Exchangehouses, and stockbrokers to implement anti-money laundering policies, including the recording in internal databases transactions over $10,000, and the reporting of suspicious transactions to the UIAF. In addition, the insurance and reinsurance sector, stock market, and Currency Exchange houses must know and thoroughly identify their customers, and report suspicious financial transactions to UIAF. The insurance sectors maintain a registry of “relevant” transactions, such as payments of insurance premiums of $10,000 or more, while stock and investment fund administrators must maintain a registry of individuals and entities exchanging Currency or other valuables in amount greater than $10,000. Uruguay remains active in international anti-money laundering efforts. In addition to its membership in GAFISUD, Uruguay is also a member of the OAS Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission Experts Group to Control Money Laundering.

Uruguay’s financial system is comprised of banks, financial houses, offshore banks and representative offices of foreign banks. All of the above types of institutions require the authorization to operate by Uruguay’s Central Bank. It is important to notice that in the last decade, representative offices of foreign banks have sprung up as an inexpensive vehicle for foreign banks to channel business to their headquarters without the need to establish themselves locally.Uruguay’s banking system is a solid one, characterized by lack of Exchange controls, transfer of funds restrictions or profit remittance limits,strict banking secrecy,an easy process for foreign nationals or companies to Open bank accounts,and the existence of a limited number of reputable institutions.

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