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Costa Rican businesses that do not accept credit card payments encourage and facilitate money laundering, says Costa Rica’s banking association.

Gilberto Serrano, head of the Asociación Bancaria Costarricense (ABC), explained that the refusal of shops, primarily in coast towns, to accept credit cards generate large cash flows, allowing large sums of money to circulate without banking supervision.

The comments were made follwoing the news of the largest money laundering case in the world, whose headquarters were right here in tiny Costa Rica.

Defending criticism, Costa Rica’s banking leaders say the banking system ensured that the irregularities were uncovered, but admit there is room for improvement.

The chairman of the Consejo Nacional de Supervisión del Sistema Financiero (Conassif) – National Financial System Supervision, José Luis Arce, said his organization seeks to strengthen the two pillars of the banks: knowledge of its customers and employees and improving the technology infrastructure and monitoring of suspicious transactions.

Although the system is “neither the best nor the worst, we must improve significantly” in technology and training, said the superintendente de Entidades Financieras (Sugef) – Superintendent of Financial Institutions, Javier Cascante.