Although practitioners may incur in 55 underlying offenses, according to the Colombian Criminal Code, this illegal activity is currently equivalent to $20 billion or to the 3% of the country GDP.

Money laundering is one of the most pervasive economic issues in Colombia, and local administration is developing and implementing more and better ways to identify and stop companies or individuals of committing this crime.

Says the Information and Financial Analysis Unit in Colombia than when a person or organization generates profits from an illicit activity the people involved looks for ways of controlling the assets without being noticed. In other words, the delinquents "wash" their income before spending or investing it in the legal economy. This process is commonly known as "money laundering" or "asset laundering." Specifically in Colombia, money laundering is present on a big scale, particularly in commercial and financial areas.

A study developed by the Basel Institute on Governance says that Colombia, Chile and Peru are the Latin American countries with the strongest legal and institutional infrastructure before asset laundering activities. On a scale where zero means absence of risks and 10 means more exposure to these crimes, Colombia obtained 4.61, Chile 4.07 and Peru 4.42. Bolivia and Paraguay showed the greatest weakness in the list of 162 countries with 7.32 and 7.59, respectively.

Colombia gives you more control

The Bank Association of Colombia (ASOBANCARIA) recently gathered public organisations and private companies with the purpose of establishing the latest trends on assets laundering and terrorism financing, and to determine ways to protect these institutions from the effects of these practices.

New measures were announced to identify and control these practices. One of the new regulations states that, from next year, the International Finance Action Group (GAFI) will audit all companies of the agricultural, industrial and service sectors regarding their Asset Laundering and Terrorism Financing system. The GAFI aims to promote and effectively implement legal, regulatory and operational measures to combat money laundering, terrorism financing and other threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

In addition, the country recently established regulation giving the Partnership Superintendence of Colombia the right to request certain companies to implement their own system regarding asset laundering and internal terrorism financing. Those companies that fail to comply with this requirement may incur in penalties.

With these representing just some of the efforts in development, it is certain that Colombia is at the beginning of a phase that will ensure all companies, at some point, are controlled and under supervision through the management of their internal system of asset laundering and terrorism financing.

It doesn't end here

Money laundering is not the only illegal activity that is affecting Latin American countries. Read our briefing paper Corruption in Latin America: Are you protecting your business? where we analyse Latin-American countries, what they are doing to tackle corruption and some recent issues that have made headlines.

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