PANAMA CITY -- The First Inter-Americas Bank was stripped of its international license Sunday due to irregular operating practices believed to be tied to drug trafficking.
The National Banking Commission, known by its Spanish acronym CBN, audited the Colombian-owned bank and took away its international license Sunday, a commission spokesman said.
Banking sources said the majority of the bank's business involved Colombian Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, who is being held in Madrid on charges of international drug trafficking.
The Inter-Americas had been under observation for some time, the CBN spokesman said. Investigations showed a cash movement that did not correlate with the bank's operating volume and did not conform with banking regulations.
Attorney General Isaac Chang Vega led the investigation.
The CBN defended its action against Inter-Americas by saying in a statement, 'This commission decided to take preventative measures in order to avoid the weakening and disequilibrium of the national banking system.'
In a speech to the Legislative Assembly Friday, President Nicolas Ardito Barletta outlined heightened measures to apprehend narcotics traffickers and said he was concerned about access to Panama's banks by drug dealers.
'We have called on the banking community to help us search for ways to avoid the use of our banking system by drug traffickers,' Ardito Barletta said.