Mexico
Detailed Assessment Report-Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism

This report provides a summary of the anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) measures in place in Mexico. Mexico has a mature AML/CFT regime, with a correspondingly well-developed legal and institutional framework. Most of the key authorities have a good understanding of money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing risks, and there is generally good policy cooperation and coordination. The financial sector demonstrates a good understanding of the primary ML threats from organized crime groups and associated criminal activities as well as tax crimes, but the recognition of corruption as a main threat is uneven. Financial intelligence and other relevant information are made available by the financial intelligence unit and accessed on a regular basis by competent authorities.

Abstract

This report provides a summary of the anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) measures in place in Mexico. Mexico has a mature AML/CFT regime, with a correspondingly well-developed legal and institutional framework. Most of the key authorities have a good understanding of money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing risks, and there is generally good policy cooperation and coordination. The financial sector demonstrates a good understanding of the primary ML threats from organized crime groups and associated criminal activities as well as tax crimes, but the recognition of corruption as a main threat is uneven. Financial intelligence and other relevant information are made available by the financial intelligence unit and accessed on a regular basis by competent authorities.

Executive Summary

This report provides a summary of the anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) measures in place in Mexico as at the date of the onsite visit (February 28 to March 16, 2017). It analyzes the level of compliance with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) 40 Recommendations and the level of effectiveness of Mexico’s AML/CFT system, and provides recommendations on how the system could be strengthened.

Key Findings

1. Mexico has a mature AML/CFT regime, with a correspondingly well-developed legal and institutional framework. There has been a significant improvement in some areas of the country’s AML/CFT regime compared to that which existed when the country was last assessed in 2008. It is nonetheless confronted with a significant risk of money laundering (ML) stemming principally from activities most often associated with organized crime, such as drug trafficking, extortion, corruption, and tax evasion.

2. Most of the key authorities have a good understanding of ML and terrorist financing (TF) risks, and there is generally good policy cooperation and coordination. Mexico finalized its national risk assessment (NRA) in June 2016 and has since taken some high-level actions to mitigate the risks identified in the NRA. These actions—although leading to some concrete results—have not been sufficiently comprehensive nor prioritized to have resulted in an appropriate allocation of resources at the federal, state, and community levels. A national strategy is being developed based on the NRA findings. The success of these measures will depend on their proper implementation.

3. The financial sector demonstrates a good understanding of the primary ML threats from organized crime groups and associated criminal activities as well as tax crimes, but the recognition of corruption as a main threat is uneven. While recognizing the general threat of organized crimes facing Mexico, designated non-financial businesses and professions’ (DNFBPs) appreciation of the ML risks appears limited. Financial institutions’ (FIs) and DNFBPs’ understanding of more complex ML techniques, such as the misuse of legal persons, is limited.

4. Financial intelligence and other relevant information are made available by the financial intelligence unit (FIU) and accessed on a regular basis by competent authorities. Although the FIU functions well and is producing good financial intelligence, the volume of financial intelligence disseminated to the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) is limited in number resulting in a low number of financial investigations.

5. Until relatively recently, the PGR did not rank the identification and investigation of ML as one of its key priorities. ML is not investigated and prosecuted in a proactive and systematic fashion, but rather on a reactive, case-by-case basis, notwithstanding the fact that some high-profile investigations have recently been conducted. In view of the serious threats posed by the main predicate offenses (e.g., organized crime or drug trafficking), the competent authorities seem to accord far more priority to the investigation of such offenses than to ML. Consequently, the number of prosecutions and convictions for ML are very low. Significant shortcomings were found in the way in which ML cases are investigated. Specifically, only very rarely are parallel financial investigations conducted and ML is seldom prosecuted as standalone offense. The level of corruption affecting law enforcement agencies (LEAs), in particular at the state level, undermines their capacity to investigate and prosecute serious offenses.

6. Confiscation of proceeds and instrumentalities is not systematically pursued as a policy objective, and not commensurate with the ML/TF risks. The provisional measures available to the authorities are not being used properly and in timely manner, except for the use of FIU’s blocked persons’ list (BPL). Suspicious and falsely declared cash is not being adequately confiscated.

7. Overall, Mexico has a solid institutional and legal framework in place to investigate and prosecute TF and impose targeted financial sanctions (TFS). The authorities have provided FIs with red flags to detect potential TF cases, and the FIU has conducted some analysis related to TF. Nonetheless, Mexico could do more to ensure that the relevant authorities are better equipped with the right tools in terms of training, expertise, and priority setting to be able to effectively detect and disrupt TF.

8. A serious concern across all sectors is that beneficial owners are being identified only to a limited extent, systematically weighing on entities’ effectiveness in assessing and managing ML/TF risks. Owing largely to shortcomings in the legal framework, FIs seek to identify beneficial owners in only limited circumstances (the authorities have promulgated amendments to regulations which they claim will address this gap but these were not in effect at the time of the onsite visit). Where FIs are required to identify beneficial owners (legal persons categorized as high risk and natural persons), FIs unduly rely on customers’ self-declaration to identify beneficial owners. For the majority of legal persons that are not categorized as high risk, FIs need only obtain information on corporate customers’ first layer of legal ownership without seeking to reach the natural persons who ultimately own or control the entity. DNFBPs generally believe it is not their role to identify beneficial owners.

9. The financial sector supervisors have a good understanding of the risks within the sectors for which they are responsible, and have implemented reasonable risk-based approaches to AML/CFT supervision. Oversight of the DNFBPs is less developed and is significantly under-resourced. Generally, sanctions have not been applied, to date, in an effective, proportionate and dissuasive manner.

10. Mexico has a solid legal and institutional framework in place to seek and provide mutual legal assistance (MLA) and extradition. The authorities also frequently rely on other forms of international cooperation to exchange information with other countries. In practice, Mexico has decided as a policy matter to strengthen and favor other forms of cooperation while only pursuing MLA when strictly necessary. It is clear that the use of other forms of cooperation is effective, fluid, and has produced tangible results with the United States of America (U.S.). The provision of MLA by Mexico is somewhat limited by the absence of a legal basis for certain investigation techniques. As regards seeking MLA, the authorities are neither proactive nor seem to accord a high priority to pursuing MLA when the offense has a transnational element, and where evidence or assets are located abroad which has a negative impact on the effectiveness of investigations and prosecutions.

Risks and General Situation

11. Based on the information provided in the NRA and other open source documents, the amount of proceeds generated by predicate crimes committed in and outside of Mexico is high. The main domestic proceeds-generating crimes can be divided into three tiers of magnitude: (i) domestic organized crimes, including drugs and human trafficking, (ii) corruption, and (iii) tax evasion. The country also faces particular risks related to the laundering of proceeds derived from foreign predicate crimes mostly related to Mexican transnational organized crime (e.g., in the U.S., and to a much lower degree South and Central America).

12. Banks are most at threat, but other sectors are vulnerable to ML activities. Banks dominate the financial sector, handle a high volume of transactions, and are well interconnected to the international financial system. Brokerage firms and DNFBPs, notably notaries and real estate agents, are involved in a high volume of transactions and are exposed to ML threats.

13. Typical ML methods include the use of shell and front companies to conceal beneficial ownership (BO), the purchase and sale of real estate and high-value goods, and cash smuggling on both directions of the U.S.–Mexico border. The high use of cash and relatively large informal economy significantly increases the risk that illicit proceeds may be rechanneled into the regulated formal economy. Nevertheless, according to the Bank of Mexico’s analysis, the restrictions on FIs for receiving cash in U.S. dollars has resulted in a significant decrease in the volume of U.S. dollars cash-in and cash-out of the financial system. However, use of Mexican pesos as cash has increased.

14. The risk of TF appears to be relatively low, although some cases have been detected. The authorities and the private sector agree that the overall TF risk is low.

Overall Level of Effectiveness and Technical Compliance

15. Mexico’s AML/CFT regime has significantly improved since it was last assessed in 2008. It is nonetheless confronted with a significant risk of ML stemming principally from activities most often associated with organized crime, such as drug trafficking and extortion, as well as corruption and tax evasion.

16. Mexico has a strong legal and institutional framework for combating ML/TF and proliferation financing (PF). The legal and institutional framework is particularly strong regarding criminalization of ML and TF, financial intelligence, but less so regarding key preventive measures including identification of beneficial owners and suspicious transaction reporting, regulation and supervision of DNFBPs, and entity transparency.

17. In terms of effectiveness, Mexico achieves substantial results in understanding and combating risks, TFS, and international cooperation. More significant improvements are needed in other areas, notably the investigation and prosecution of ML, and confiscation.

Assessment of Risks, Coordination and Policy Setting (Chapter 2—IO.1; R.1, R.2, R.33)

18. The authorities’ understanding of ML and TF risk is relatively good. The NRA was concluded in June 2016 with the involvement of all competent authorities and the private sector. It was developed with the technical assistance of the Inter-American Development Bank and followed the guidance provided by the FATF and other multilateral bodies. This first exercise provides a reasonable basis for updating the country’s AML/CFT strategy and developing the next risk assessment. The NRA considers qualitative and quantitative data from LEAs and also civil, military, and navy intelligence, and supervisory information. The NRA also includes a sectoral risk assessment analysis and the analysis of the responses to the risk perception questionnaire that the FIU sent to the reporting entities. Overall the analysis and understanding of risks appears to rely more on FIU information than on law enforcement information. Although the NRA acknowledges that using front companies is one of the most widespread ML techniques in Mexico, it did not properly reflect the magnitude of the vulnerability owing to the absence of readily available and accurate BO information, nor did it provide an assessment of the risks posed by each type of legal person. Independently from the NRA, the FIU, LEAs, and Servicio de Administración Tributaria (SAT) have conducted analysis of companies that have a higher risk of being misused for ML/tax evasion (in case of SAT) transactions, and thus have a better understanding of those risks.

19. Mexico is developing a national strategy based on the NRA findings. Two high-level groups of officials were created in November 2016 for developing AML/CFT policy and actions in a more coordinated and dynamic way. In this context, the Mexican government has already taken several high-level actions to mitigate some risks noted in the NRA. It has issued new AML/CFT regulations, improved coordination between agencies, and given feedback to financial institutions and DNFBPs concerning the NRA results. However, these actions—although leading to some concrete results—have not been sufficiently comprehensive nor prioritized to have resulted in an appropriate allocation of resources at the federal, state, and community levels. Implementation in some areas remains a concern due to the lack of capacity (e.g., SAT) and the high turn-over of senior officials in critical agencies of the public administration.

20. There is generally good coordination on ML issues between the FIU, PGR, and the supervisors, but less so between LEAs and PGR. Coordination on TF issues is less developed. The lack of inter-agency cooperation on ML, in particular between the PGR and LEAs at the federal and state levels, impedes Mexico’s ability to effectively tackle ML cases.

21. There are no sectors exempted from the AML/CFT requirements, and the authorities have even added some vulnerable activities (VA) that go beyond the standard (e.g., car dealers).

22. The financial sector was closely involved in the development of the NRA and informed of its results; DNFBP involvement was more limited even though they were encouraged to engage. There has been an extensive outreach by the FIU and supervisors to communicate the results of the NRA to all reporting entities.

Financial Intelligence, Money Laundering and Confiscation (Chapter 3—IOs 6–8; R.3, R.4, R.29–32)

23. Competent authorities at the federal, state, and local levels regularly receive and access a wide range of financial intelligence provided or maintained by the FIU. However, financial intelligence is not regularly used to support ML/TF investigations and trace assets. The FIU functions well and produces good operational and high quality strategic analyses that serve the PGR in launching ML and associated predicate crimes investigations. The FIU has the resources and skills to collect and use a wide variety of intelligence and other relevant information to develop analysis and produce good intelligence. Several competent authorities have direct access to the FIU database which enhances their ability to use financial intelligence in a timely manner, in line with their own operational needs, without having to wait for disseminations from the FIU.

24. However, financial intelligence does not often lead to launching ML investigations. The FIU’s spontaneous disseminations to the PGR related to ML and underlying offenses are generally low. Several other elements affect the launch of ML investigations and the identification and tracking of assets by the PGR notably: (i) the lack of reporting by DNFBPs, delays in the FIU’s disseminations, and deficiencies related to the cash couriers’ regime; and (ii) the lack of BO information, at the federal and state levels, that impairs the FIU’s capacity to identify specific targets and assets; and (iii) the lack of skills of the PGR and LEAs.

25. Mexico has created an institutional and legal framework to investigate ML and predicate offenses. However, in view of the serious threat posed by the main predicate offenses, the competent authorities accord far more priority to the investigation of predicate offenses and scant attention is paid to ML. Two specialized units have been established within the PGR to undertake ML investigations at the federal level, but do not have an equivalent at the state level. In addition, at the federal level, other units are not precluded from conducting investigations into ML deriving from predicate offenses. The multiplicity of units responsible for the investigation of ML gives rise to difficulties in terms of coordination, and in ensuring proper sharing of evidence and information. In light of the extremely low results achieved in terms of number of investigations initiated, prosecutions brought, and convictions secured, the financial and human resources (including specialized training) allocated to these units do not appear to be sufficient. The significant levels of corruption affecting LEAs, in particular at the state level, undermines their capacity to investigate and prosecute serious offenses.

26. The low conviction rate also points to a low degree of effectiveness in the way in which investigations are initiated (e.g., investigations opened without sufficient reasonable grounds) and conducted (e.g., deficiencies in investigation methodology or in the financial investigation, overly long procedures, and lack of internal coordination at the federal and state level). Finally, very rarely is a parallel ML investigation conducted when the competent unit initiates an investigation into the main predicate offenses.

27. Proceeds and instrumentalities of crime are rarely confiscated, and are not pursued as a policy objective. The FIU has endeavored to improve the timeliness of the application of provisional measures on the proceeds and instrumentalities that are subject to confiscation through the BPL system. Technical deficiencies in the cross-border declaration system impair the ability to effectively target and confiscate falsely declared cross-border movements of currency. The number of confiscations is very low given Mexico’s risk profile.

Terrorist Financing and Financing Proliferation (Chapter 4—IOs 9–11; R.5–8)

28. The Mexican authorities and the private sector demonstrated an understanding of TF risks, which they classify as “low-medium.” Their main focus, as far as TF risks are concerned, is on suspicious transaction reports (STRs) provided by FIs involving high-risk jurisdictions.

29. Mexico has an institutional framework in place to investigate and prosecute TF, with an ad hoc unit, the Specialized Unit on Terrorism, Arms Stockpiling, and Trafficking (UEITA). However, this unit does not have protocols or manuals containing guidelines for the clear identification and prioritization of potential TF cases. Furthermore, it appears that the investigations conducted by the UEITA are investigations based on intelligence gathered by the FIU or the civil intelligence agency and never proceed to the next level, which is the initiation of a criminal investigation.

30. The absence of TF cases results in a lack of experience within the body responsible for the prosecution of TF which makes it difficult to conclude the system is effective. The consequence of the foregoing is that the UEITA has diminished capacity to identify potential TF cases and conduct investigations into these cases using the investigation techniques available under criminal procedure law. Finally, TF is not one of the offenses for which legal persons may be held criminally liable under Mexican law.

31. Mexico has a solid legal and regulatory framework for implementing TFS related to TF and PF. FIs and DNFBPs were able to demonstrate an understanding of their freezing and reporting obligations, and the system in place to detect, freeze, and report assets related to ML (which is the same system as that used for compliance with TFS) appears to be effective, though no positive matches for TF or PF have ever been identified. Weak supervision of DNFBPs raises some concerns over whether there is adequate compliance in the non-financial sector, and deficiencies related to BO may impact the ability of reporting entities to detect potential sanctions evasion. Mexico has yet to put in place a risk-based system for targeted monitoring of its non-profit organization (NPO) sector, though authorities have taken the initial step of conducting a revised risk assessment and are reviewing NPO regulations to revise accordingly.

Preventive Measures (Chapter 5—IO.4; R.9–23)

32. The financial sector, especially the core FIs, demonstrates a good understanding of the primary ML threats from organized crime groups and associated criminal activities although the recognition of corruption as a main threat is uneven. In contrast, while recognizing the general threat of organized crimes facing Mexico, DNFBPs did not demonstrate adequate appreciation of the ML risks. Both FIs and DNFBPs have limited understanding of more complex ML techniques, such as the misuse of legal persons. Their understanding of TF risks is also less developed.

33. FIs and most DNFBPs generally understand their AML/CFT obligations including customer due diligence (CDD), record keeping, and reporting. The quality of basic CDD measures and record keeping of FIs appears good in general, but is negatively impacted by some technical deficiencies. However, discussions suggested that lawyers and accountants have a lower level of awareness of their AML/CFT obligations.

34. All sectors appear to be identifying their customers, but owing largely to shortcomings in the legal framework,1 beneficial owners are being identified only to a limited extent, systematically weighing on entities’ effectiveness in assessing and managing ML/TF risks. FIs seek to identify beneficial owners in only limited circumstances. Where FIs are required to identify beneficial owners (of legal persons categorized as high risk and natural persons), FIs unduly rely on customers’ self-declaration for this purpose. For the majority of legal persons that are not categorized as high risk, FIs only obtain information on corporate customers’ first layer legal ownership without seeking to reach the natural persons who ultimately own or control the entity. DNFBPs generally believe it is not their role to identify beneficial owners.

35. The methodologies for risk categorization of customers applied by core FIs are not robust enough to reasonably reflect customer risk profiles as evidenced in that FIs only rate a very small portion of domestic politically exposed persons (PEPs) as high risk. DNFBPs are not subject to requirements to identify (foreign or domestic) PEPs. As a result, the risks posed by domestic PEPs are being managed only to a limited extent.

36. While quality of STRs has generally improved over the past few years, concerns remain regarding the substance of reports, timeliness of submissions, and low level of reporting by DNFBPs. The basis of reporting obligations of FIs is somewhat blurred between suspicious and unusual, which may have contributed to cross-sector concerns about the inadequacy of analysis. Unusual transaction reports (UTR)/STR reporting by large FIs is not always as prompt as it should be. Reporting by DNFBPs is generally poor in both quantitative and qualitative terms, a particular concern being that professionals (lawyers and accountants) have not filed a single STR in the past three years.

Supervision (Chapter 6—IO.3; R.26–28, R.34–35)

37. The financial sector supervisors have a good understanding of the risks within the sectors for which they are responsible and have developed sound models that allow them to differentiate the risks between individual institutions. The situation is far less clear with respect to the DNFBPs, where the basis for the SAT’s appreciation of risk is not fully developed. The sheer number of entities for which the SAT is responsible poses a material challenge to understanding risk at the level of individual businesses.

38. The financial sector supervisors have all adopted risk-based approaches to framing their annual program of onsite inspections. There is good evidence that the inspectors are increasingly identifying key areas of risk and are engaging with the institutions on those aspects. Again, the picture is less encouraging with respect to the DNFBPs. While the SAT employs an AML risk model, the agency is significantly under-resourced and has been able, within the last three years, to inspect fewer than 0.2 percent of the entities for which it is responsible. In addition, the SAT has no authority to monitor for CFT compliance.

39. Sanctions are not being applied in an effective, proportionate, and dissuasive manner. While the financial supervisors have a number of remedial actions available to them, the system is geared very much towards the application of financial penalties for non-compliance with specific obligations. Due to the extended time lag in achieving a final resolution with the institutions, the majority of sanctions applied up to end-2016 were based on pre-2014 provisions, under which the penalties were extremely low. The current legislation potentially provides for more stringent penalties, but the extent to which they will result in more proportionate and dissuasive sanctions (especially for the larger institutions) can only be judged in due course.

40. Generally, the supervisors, often in cooperation with the FIU, have made welcomed efforts to conduct outreach to the regulated sectors. The financial sector, in particular, considers that this has significantly improved their understanding of their obligations. Virtually all outreach to the DNFBPs has been undertaken by the FIU rather than the SAT, focusing primarily on reporting obligations, but also addressing the results of the NRA, typologies, and red flag indicators.

Transparency of Legal Persons and Arrangements (Chapter 7—IO.5; R.24–25)

41. The different types, forms, and basic features of legal persons and arrangements are defined in the Mexican law, and the processes for their creation are described at official government websites. This is public information and can be accessed on the Internet.

42. The NRA does not specifically differentiate risks associated with different types of legal persons, although it mentions that using front companies is one of the most widespread ML techniques. However, LEAs, the FIU, and SAT appear to have a good understanding of the risks related to the misuses of the legal persons and arrangements for criminal purposes. According to the authorities, the most widespread phenomenon is the misuse of shell and front companies to perpetrate predicate offenses such as self-dealing, embezzlement, and tax evasion, as well as to invest illicit proceeds from organized criminality and corruption in real estate, restaurants, shops, and other businesses in Mexico, the U.S., or other foreign jurisdictions. There appears to be a not insignificant risk of the misuse of fideicomisos (trusts), although all fideicomisos have to be registered in one way or another.

43. There are a number of measures in place in Mexico that provide safeguards preventing the misuse of legal persons and arrangements. Bearer shares, nominee shares, and nominee directors are not allowed in Mexico. Formation of all types of legal persons (with one exception) has to be conducted through either public notaries or public brokers, who in turn are subject to AML/CFT requirements, including CDD and record-keeping and immediate reporting of this information to the FIU. In the case of fideicomisos, the trustees can only be FIs, which are subject to full range of AML/CFT obligations. All fideicomisos have to be registered either in the Registro Federal de Contribuyentes (RFC), or Trust Control and Transparency System, or Information Department of the Financial System of the Bank of Mexico. These measures, however, are effective only to a limited extent to address the risks of misuse of legal persons and arrangements.

44. There is no obligation to involve a notary when transferring shares in the company if there is no change in the constituting documents, and there is no change in the capital, although the administration of the legal person is legally required to keep a record on the books of any transferring of shares. This impacts the ability of competent authorities to obtain up-to-date information even on the most basic information regarding the legal ownership of companies in a timely manner.

45. The current system of single registers at the federal level (i.e., Registro Público de Comercio—RPC and RFC) has been fully operational only since September 2016. There are six states (Michoacán, Nuevo Léon, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, and Ciudad de México), where there is a backlog of companies created before September 2016 that have not been yet entered into the single federal registers. Where a legal person has not yet been entered in the RFC/RPC, it may take up to a week for the authorities to retrieve information.

46. The level of compliance with BO obligations among notaries remains weak. Given that the notaries are the central element in ensuring the accuracy and authenticity of the information that is submitted in the federal registers, this raises questions regarding the accuracy of that information.

47. In order to identify BO, authorities often have to rely on investigative techniques or international assistance, which are time-consuming and therefore do not ensure timely access to BO information.

48. There are no specific sanctions foreseen for failure to maintain a register of shareholders or members and update it accordingly (for legal persons); however, any act that is not registered in the books of the legal entity will not have legal validity. Sanctions that are available with regard to notaries and the financial institutions that act in the trustee capacity are not applied effectively.

International Cooperation (Chapter 8—IO.2; R.36–40)

49. Mexico has a solid legal and institutional framework in place to seek and provide MLA as well as for extradition. The authorities also frequently rely on other forms of international cooperation to exchange information with other countries.

50. Mexico has decided as a policy matter to strengthen and favor other forms of cooperation while only pursuing MLA “when strictly necessary.” This strategy has produced substantial results with the U.S. The effectiveness of MLA is hampered by (i) the lack of specific guidelines for prioritizing foreign requests; and (ii) the lack of legal provisions governing controlled deliveries and joint investigation teams. As regards seeking MLA from other countries, the main shortcoming is that the PGR is neither proactive nor seems to accord a high priority to pursuing MLA when the offense has a transnational element and evidence or assets are located abroad.

Priority Actions

The prioritized recommended actions for Mexico, based on these findings, are:

  • Prioritize the investigation of ML and allocate additional resources, strengthen financial investigation and internal coordination within the prosecution units, at the federal and state level. In parallel, the PGR should increase the level of specialization of its units, particularly within those dealing with ML and corruption. Assessors should indicate briefly what action is required, and the reason why it should be prioritized (e.g., that it is a fundamental building block of the AML/CFT system).

  • Integrate confiscation as policy objective within the national AML/CFT policies.

  • Enhance the quality of STRs by providing further guidance to reporting entities, and increase FIU disseminations to support ML investigations.

  • Initiate parallel financial investigations in accordance with Mexico’s ML/TF risks; to that end Mexico should provide training and technical expertise to PGR and Federal Police.

  • Improve FIs’ and DNFBPs’ (in particular notaries, lawyers, and accountants) understanding of ML risks from corruption and their ability to manage such risks, including by (i) deepening the NRA analysis of corruption as an ML threat; (ii) requiring entities to determine whether a beneficial owner is a PEP and apply controls in line with the standard; (iii) extending the requirements on PEPs to DNFBPs; and (iv) providing guidance on assessing and managing risks associated with domestic PEPs.

  • Strengthen measures on BO by (i) extending the requirements on identifying beneficial owners including those of legal persons introduced in the February/March 2017 amendments to the entities that are not covered; (ii) engaging all FIs and DNFBPs (in particular, notaries, lawyers, and accountants) to clarify supervisory expectations regarding the requirements on beneficial owners, and providing guidance on best practices; (iii) discouraging the undue reliance on customers’ self-declarations; and (iv) ensuring that adequate, accurate, and current BO information of Mexican legal persons and arrangements is available to competent authorities in a timely manner, by requiring that such information be obtained at the federal level.

  • Review the resources applied to AML/CFT supervision in the light of the risk profiles emerging from the models developed by the supervisors. Immediate attention should be applied to the SAT, which is significantly under-resourced by any measure.

  • Review the financial penalties available to supervisors to establish whether they can realistically be applied in a manner that is effective, proportionate and dissuasive, especially in relation to larger financial institutions. Immediate action should be taken by the SAT to establish a methodology for applying sanctions other than at the minimum level provided under the law.

  • Ensure that the DNFBPs are subject to substantive CFT compliance inspections by either the SAT or another competent authority.

  • Adopt the necessary legislative measures to allow Mexico to provide the widest possible international cooperation. Establish a case management system to facilitate the follow-up of both passive and active requests for assistance and adopt proper guidelines describing how requests should be prioritized. Finally, the PGR should take a more proactive approach to ML investigations that have a transnational dimension.

Effectiveness and Technical Compliance Ratings

Effectiveness Ratings (High, Substantial, Moderate, Low)

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Technical Compliance Ratings (C—compliant, LC—largely compliant, PC—partially compliant, NC—non compliant)

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Technical Compliance Ratings (C—compliant, LC—largely compliant, PC—partially compliant, NC—non compliant)

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Detailed Assessment Report

Preface

This report summarizes the AML/CFT measures in place as at the date of the onsite visit. It analyzes the level of compliance with the FATF 40 Recommendations and the level of effectiveness of the AML/CFT system, and recommends how the system could be strengthened.

This evaluation was based on the 2012 FATF Recommendations and was prepared using the 2013 Methodology. The evaluation was based on information provided by the country, and information obtained by the evaluation team during its onsite visit to the country from February 28 to March 13, 2017.

The evaluation was conducted by an assessment team consisting of:

  • Richard Lalonde, IMF (team leader);

  • Chady El-Khoury, IMF (FIU and legal expert);

  • Ke Chen, IMF (financial expert);

  • Concepción Verdugo-Yepes, IMF (economist);

  • Sergey Teterukov, FATF Secretariat (financial expert);

  • Alejandra Quevedo, GAFILAT Secretariat (legal expert);

  • Richard Chalmers, consultant (financial expert);

  • Angelique Roberts, U.S. Department of the Treasury (financial expert);

  • Ignacio de Lucas, Spanish Prosecutor (legal expert).

The report was reviewed by Mr. Gonzalo Alvarado (Peru), Mr. Javier Cruz Tamburrino (Chile), and Ms. Marlene Manuel-Fevrier (Canada).

Mexico previously underwent a FATF Mutual Evaluation in 2008, conducted according to the 2004 FATF Methodology. The 2008 Mutual Evaluation concluded that Mexico was compliant with 7 Recommendations; largely compliant with 17; partially compliant with 19; and non-compliant with 6. With respect to Core and Key recommendations, Mexico was rated partially compliant or non-compliant with 9 of the 16 Core and Key Recommendations. Mexico was placed under the regular follow-up process immediately after the adoption of its 2008 Mutual Evaluation Report. Following steps taken to address deficiencies related to the 9 Core and Key Recommendations, Mexico moved from regular follow-up to biennial updates in February 2014. The 2008 Mutual Evaluation and 2014 follow-up report are publicly available at http://www.fatf-gafi.org/countries/#Mexico.

ML/TF Risks and Context

51. Mexico gained independence in 1821 and was established in 1857 as a federal republic. Mexico has a US$1.26 trillion economy (2015), making it the fifteenth largest economy in the world, and the second in Latin America, comprising 32 states (including Mexico City). It is the third most populous nation in the Americas with a population estimated at 119.5 million (2015) of which approximately 76.5 percent lives in urban areas. Mexico occupies a territory of 758,446 square miles (1,964,375 square kilometers) with the three largest cities being Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey.

52. Mexico has a free market economy strongly linked with its North American Free Trade Agreement partners—the U.S. and Canada. Its largest trading partner is the U.S., accounting for approximately 83 percent of total exports and 48 percent of total imports (2016). The three largest sources of foreign exchange are merchandise exports (including in-bond industries), worker remittances, and tourism. During 2016, remittances to Mexico hit a record US$27 billion.

53. Mexico’s constitution provides for a tripartite government, separated into legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The bicameral Congress of the Federation (or Union), or legislative branch, is composed of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies, which makes federal law, declares war, imposes taxes, approves the national budget and international treaties, and ratifies diplomatic appointments. The executive branch is represented by the president who is the head of state as well as the commander-in-chief of the military forces. The president also appoints the Cabinet and other senior officers (for some positions, Senate approval is needed), and is responsible for executing and enforcing the law. He has the authority to veto bills. The Supreme Court of Justice is composed of eleven judges appointed by the president with Senate approval, who interpret laws and judge cases of federal competency. Other institutions of the judiciary are the Electoral Tribunal, collegiate, unitary and district tribunals, and the Council of the Federal Judiciary.

54. All constituent states of the Federation are largely autonomous in their internal administration and the federal government of Mexico cannot generally intervene in any particular state’s affairs. The judiciary is vested upon the tribunals that each state establishes under its constitution. Mexico City is the capital of the country and seat of the power of the union. It is independently constituted and is governed by city branches.

A. ML/TF Risks and Scoping of Higher-Risk Issues

Overview of ML/TF Risks

ML/TF Threats

55. Based on the information provided in the authorities’ NRA report and other open sources, the main proceeds-generating predicate crimes posing a high level of ML/TF threats to Mexico appear to be drug trafficking (including in the context of organized crime groups), corruption, and tax evasion.2 Other significant sources of laundered funds include kidnapping, extortion, intellectual property rights violations, and human trafficking. Most of these crimes are perpetrated by organized criminal groups (OCGs). Despite the limited data available, it appears that large amounts of proceeds of crime (POC) generated in foreign jurisdictions (e.g., the U.S. and possibly Central America) could also be flowing into Mexico through international wire transfers or in cash, and this may pose notable ML threats to Mexico.34 It also appears that some POC generated in Mexico could be flowing out of Mexico for laundering.

56. Drug trafficking and production proceeds are considered a major source of funds available for ML in Mexico. Mexico remains a major transit country for cocaine and heroin, and a source country for heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine destined for the U.S.5 Main crimes by OCGs are the trafficking of marijuana and synthetic drugs, followed by the trafficking of cocaine and production of marijuana. Major Mexico-based OCGs and their partners are solidifying their dominance of the U.S. wholesale drug trade, among other markets.6 OCGs have access to and control of smuggling routes across the U.S. border and the capacity to produce (or obtain), transport, and distribute nearly every major illicit drug of abuse in the U.S. According to a 2011 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report, most of the income of the Mexican drug cartels is made in the U.S. Some of this money is smuggled back to Mexico, where it is laundered, whereas the rest of the money is laundered in the U.S. and other foreign jurisdictions.7 Official data shows that the amounts have decreased significantly after strict U.S. dollar cash restrictions were established for the Mexican financial system in 2010.

57. POCs are laundered in Mexico through a diverse set of methods and using multiple sectors.8 ML is an essential activity for OCGs in Mexico, which rely on bulk cash smuggling in both directions of the U.S.–Mexico border, traditional bank and wire transfers, and trade-based ML schemes, particularly since Mexico placed restrictions on FIs for receiving U.S. cash in 2010. OCGs accumulate property of all types in Mexico and abroad, beginning with money and foreign currency, vehicles, weapons, and jewelry, followed by urban and rural properties used as safe houses, investing in licit businesses including through setting up shell companies, and using considerable amounts of cash in economic sectors such as trading companies, restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, and building and transport companies, among others.

58. Corruption is a source of illicit proceeds, and an enabler of ML and its predicate offenses. Some OCGs have the capability of bribing or intimidating the authorities, particularly at state and local levels and, to a lesser extent, at the federal level.9 It is difficult to measure precisely the POC associated with corruption and the level of corruption in Mexico. While Mexico is ranked at 95 in Transparency International’s 2015 perception of corruption index,10 perceptions of corruption in Mexico are ranked the most pervasive among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.11 Also, the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index, in the chapter related to the absence of corruption, ranks Mexico 24 out of 30 with respect to its regional group and 32 out of 37 with respect to its income group. This index suggests that corruption may also be undermining the criminal justice system in Mexico.12

59. Tax evasion remains significant in Mexico. Tax collection is low (although it has increased substantially in the past few years), due in part to tax evasion, as well as deficiencies in the judicial system that have led to few convictions and incarcerations for tax fraud. While Mexico has made important progress in combating tax evasion by enhancing the capacity of its tax administration service, a study commissioned by the SAT estimates the amount of tax evasion and tax avoidance in Mexico to be approximately Mex$483,875 million (equivalent to US$23,341 million approximately based on current exchange rate) in 2012.13

60. Finally, while not insignificant, the TF risks appear much lower than the ML risk. There are no known international terrorist organizations operating in Mexico. Mexican security agencies tracked open-source reports claiming that terrorist training camps existed in Mexico, most recently in April 2015. In each instance, the media reports have been found to be unsubstantiated.14 Neighboring foreign authorities also do not consider as a possible threat terrorist illegal border crossing as an imminent nor significant threat within the Mexican borders.15 Nonetheless, porous borders could facilitate the movements of terrorists from South and Central America to the U.S.16 The NRA has analyzed the threats and the vulnerabilities in order to obtain the probability that Mexico can be used for TF. The NRA concludes that the potential existence of national terrorists or the implantation of terrorist cells in the Mexican territory, the possibility that great amounts of funds can be raised to finance terrorism, and the existence of foreign terrorist fighters in Mexico is a low risk. Whilst the NRA acknowledges that illegal immigration into the U.S. is a common phenomenon, and that theoretically terrorists could cross the border as migrants, this is not, however, considered by the authorities as an imminent nor significant threat.

ML/TF Vulnerabilities

61. A regionally well-connected financial sector, a sophisticated regulatory framework, and a large cash-based economy pose significant challenges for Mexico’s AML/CFT regime.17 The banking sector, in particular the seven largest banks (known as the G-7), appears to pose the highest ML risk followed by brokerage firms (which offer money/value transfer services and handle large amounts of cash in U.S. dollars)18 and various money service providers (e.g., exchange houses, exchange centers, and money transmitters), due to the types of activities and services performed (e.g., exchange transactions, and national and international transactions can be made or accepted). The G-7 banks account for about 80 percent of total bank assets. The G-7 banks all have product and service risk characteristics (e.g., cash transactions, exchange transactions, domestic and foreign transfers, transactions through commission agents may be executed, products or services that make it possible for at least one of the parties in the transaction not to be identified).19 With regard to the geographical area, the G-7 banks also present a high risk, as they have a high percentage of cash transaction reports (CTRs), STRs, and U.S. dollar CTRs involving transactions in areas where there is a high level of predicate offenses, the bases of the OCGs, and high ML risk (e.g., the northern border). Quarterly cross-border wire transfer of funds reports (TIF) also show a high percentage of these reports involving transactions with high risk foreign jurisdictions.20

62. With high regional rates of migration, a sizable informal economy (23.6 percent of GDP),21 low financial inclusion, weak border controls, and high volume smuggling of U.S. dollars, Mexico faces a significant challenge in detecting criminal from the licit flows. Although there are various programs and initiatives for bringing licit informal activities into the formal economy, as well as financial inclusion policies that improved access and use of financial products and services and therefore mitigate some of the ML risk associated with informal economy, the proliferation of cash, the ease with which it can be moved, and a reluctance of certain people to use the financial system constitute significant vulnerabilities.

63. The criminal justice system does not appear to be delivering good results in some areas. Confiscation and conviction rates appear to be low.22 The statistics submitted by the authorities show the results of actions taken to combat ML, among them, currency seized, and convictions, which seem low in the context of Mexico’s exposure to drug and organized crime ML.

Country’s Risk Assessment and Scoping of Higher Risk Issues

Country’s Risk Assessment

64. Mexico concluded its first NRA report in June 2016, following a two-year government-wide ML/TF risk assessment exercise. The first stage of the process was carried out by the FIU in coordination with other competent authorities including lawmakers, supervisors, Banco de México, Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI), intelligence services, LEAs, and the PGR, and was based in a diverse range of information and documentation, being the reports on suspicious and threshold transactions, a key source of quantitative data for the NRA. The second stage benefited greatly from consultations with the private sector including industry associations, self-regulatory bodies, and researchers through surveys and questionnaires prepared by the FIU that focused on inherent ML/TF risks of FIs and DNFBPs and their activities. The NRA discusses structural factors including corruption and issues related to the effectiveness of the AML/CFT framework.

65. The background information used to reach conclusions seems credible and factual. The assessment focused on ML risks from criminal activities taking place mainly inside the country, POC that need to be laundered, and sectors affected by ML. The document also includes an assessment of the economic consequences of ML/TF. Overall, the process of conducting the risk assessment was adequate. In this regard, this was a proper first exercise of the Mexican government to develop an NRA on AML/CFT. Nevertheless, there are several areas that require further improvement which should be considered by Mexican authorities in future updates.

66. Overall, the NRA relies on many sources of information, but more weight is given to the FIU information. The section on “Regulatory and supervisory authorities of the AML/CFT regime” is based on hard data provided by all supervisors (Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores (CNBV), Comisión Nacional de Seguros y Fianzas (CNSF), Comisión Nacional del Sistema de Ahorro para el Retiro (CONSAR), and the SAT). Also, LEAs and the judicial branch (PGR, Servicio de Administración y Enajenación de Bienes (SAE), and Consejo de la Judicatura Federal) provided hard data to assess the “Investigation and granting of justice regarding ML/TF cases.”

67. The conclusions do not appear to be reasonable or complete in some respects. With respect to corruption, the NRA’s analysis was focused on the “perception of corruption” and the framework and measures in place to tackle corruption. The NRA recognized the “perception of corruption” as highly vulnerable to ML as it facilitates crime and undermines law enforcement efforts. It also recognizes corruption as one of the many predicate offenses that exist in Mexico. The NRA, however, fails to assess its significance and identify corruption as a main ML threat. In the case of legal persons and arrangements, the risk they represent is not entirely discussed. Furthermore, the NRA could have better reflected the ML/TF trends and typologies commonly used in the large informal economy (e.g., trade-based ML). Mexico could continue to improve its analysis on the amounts of POC generated abroad and laundered in or through Mexico, in particular from Central America and the Caribbean. Finally, authorities could have analyzed in the NRA the corruption-related ML risks with more clarity and depth, particularly the significance of corruption as an ML threat.

Scoping of Higher-Risk Issues

68. The following are areas that the assessment team considered to warrant more focused attention:

  • In light of the main threats (i.e., drug trafficking, corruption and tax evasion), the banking sector appears to present the highest risk of ML. The team explored the banks’ appreciation of the ML risks, in particular the G-7s’, including in relation to correspondent banking relationships, mitigation strategies, and controls they have put in place, in particular for the use of U.S. dollar and trade-based ML.

  • Brokerage firms and money service providers also appear to be vulnerable channels of ML activity in Mexico. The team explored, in particular, their appreciation of the ML/TF risks, risk-mitigation strategies, and controls they have put in place, in relation to their operations.

  • The assessors also focused on how well AML/CFT supervision of the G-7 segment of the multiple banks, brokerage firms, money-value transfer services (MVTS), and multiple commercial bank institutions is being conducted.

  • In light of the evidence that companies are frequently involved in ML schemes, the assessors also focused on how well they are prevented from misuse, and ascertain whether competent authorities have adequate, accurate, and timely access to BO and control information.

  • As a cross-cutting issue, the team discussed the placement of cash (including cash smuggled from the U.S. into Mexico by cash couriers) into the financial system and the efforts to address the associated risks.

  • The team focused on measures taken by the authorities (in particular LEAs, public prosecutor’s office, judiciary, and international cooperation in terms of financial intelligence between FIUs and between LEAs) to mitigate ML threats, and their capacity and strategies to do so, especially in relation to securing greater numbers of ML convictions and confiscations of POC.

  • In light of Mexico’s efforts and leading role in promoting financial inclusion, the team explored the extent to which the country’s policies on financial inclusion and AML/CFT are coordinated and the implications of the former for the latter.

Areas of Lesser Risk and Attention

69. The team assessed the insurance sector and considered that it is an area of possible lower ML/TF risk. Also, the NRA and the discussions with the authorities pointed out that some obliged sectors present lower risk of ML (e.g., Public Trust Providers, property leasing, prepaid cards, transportation and custody of cash and valuables, receipt of donations, professional services, and monetary value storage instruments).23 The assessment team devoted less attention to these areas.

Materiality

70. According to the INEGI, the GDP at market price was Mex$18,127,177.52 during 2015, which is divided between the primary (raw materials), secondary (manufacturing), and tertiary (services) sectors at 3.61, 32.7, and 63.62 percent. Mexico holds the fifteenth place worldwide with respect to the size of the GDP in 2015. According to the Bank of International Settlements, in 2013, the peso held the eighth place among the most transacted currencies in the world, and it is the most transacted currency in emerging countries.

71. Mexico’s financial sector is bank dominated and relatively small compared with other emerging market peers.24 Financial sector assets amounted to 90 percent of GDP in 2015, with over half being commercial banking assets. Development banks’ activities have grown rapidly since the 2014 reforms reaching around 10 percent of financial sector assets by end-2015. The non-bank sector remains underdeveloped, but has been growing at a faster pace than banks in recent years. Pension funds, mutual funds, and insurance companies account for 30 percent of financial sector assets. Other financial intermediaries—regulated and unregulated non-deposit-taking FIs (SOFOMEs), savings and credit institutions, and deposit warehouses operating mostly in rural areas—are small but play an important role in microfinance and financial inclusion.

72. All types of DNFBPs are present in Mexico. The largest sector (in terms of assets) covered by the AML/CFT regime is vehicle dealers, followed by real estate dealers and precious metals and stones dealers.

73. Large circulation of physical cash (in pesos and US$) remains a concern. While there has been a considerable reduction in transactions with U.S. dollars from 2007 to 2014, the surplus and export of U.S. dollars continue to be significant (US$5 billion in 2014).25 In order to understand the nature of such transactions, the FIU and Central Bank of Mexico issued a request for information addressed to banks, exchange centers, and brokerage firms in 2009. Based on the information received, the authorities could not identify in 2007 the specific origin of the U.S. dollar surpluses; however, the authorities attributed the licit surpluses to border trade, tourism, or migrants’ remittances received in cash, and the part of this surplus that had not been explained for licit economic purposes could possibly be related to illicit proceeds. From 2010 to 2014, the Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público (SHCP) issued modifications to the AML/CFT regulations to limit the collection of U.S. dollars for the above-mentioned sectors. In contrast to a significant reduction in the use of U.S. dollars, more recently there has been an increase in the use of Mexican pesos, which has grown at an average annual rate of 13.2 percent, whereas the rate for transfers has been 5.7 percent (see Figure 1).26

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Amount of Cash-In, Cash-Out, Surplus, and Export (in US$ Billion)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2017, 405; 10.5089/9781484335482.002.A001

Structural Elements

74. As it was indicated in the NRA, some key structural elements for effective AML/CFT controls do not appear to be present in Mexico. While political and institutional stability are well established, accountability and the rule of law are relatively weak, considering Mexico ranks relatively low in these respects.27

75. The benefits of the new judicial system remain to be seen. However, some progress has been made in reforming the criminal judicial system, which shifted from a written system that was slow and lacked credibility to an oral “adversarial” one that allows for cross-examination. The new system is fully operational for state-level offenses (for all cases) in all the states. According to the authorities, the new judicial system, allows hearings to take place in the presence of a judge, and to be public and oral to promote transparency, equity and impartiality. The investigation stage is shortened under the accusatory system. However, the prosecution office and the LEAs still need to adapt to the new procedural requirements of the oral system.

Background and Other Contextual Factors

Corruption

76. Corruption is one contextual factor that may significantly influence the effectiveness of the country’s AML/CFT measures. Corruption is an enabler of ML and its predicate offenses. The traditionally weak criminal justice system has helped to promote a public sector that is perceived as being highly corrupt at least at the state and local levels. While this is partly because of the inefficiency of a legal system that prosecutes few predicate crimes and ML, it also results from other institutional weaknesses in the local security forces in areas that are hubs for organized crime (e.g., Veracruz, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, and Jalisco).28 An important concern of the authorities is the need to reduce the OCGs’ capability of bribing or intimidating the authorities, particularly at state and local levels and, to a lesser extent, at the federal level.

77. Laws of the National Anti-Corruption System were enacted on July 18, 2016. The promulgation of these laws substantially transforms the anti-corruption architecture of Mexico by putting in place a number of measures (e.g., creating an Anti-Corruption Prosecutor and specialized anti-corruption courts). One of the most important game changers of the reforms is that they reach beyond the federal level and include all levels of government. The new law obliges the Mexican states to follow suit with their own local anti-corruption systems, thereby tackling some of the loopholes of anti-corruption in Mexico. However, for this crucial reform to support the effectiveness of the AML/CFT regime, the key to real change on anti-corruption practices lies in its implementation.

Informality

78. Although many parts of the economy are formal, informality is uneven in different sectors of the economy (e.g., commerce—44 percent, manufacturing—23 percent, construction—11 percent). Fifty-seven percent of workers have an informal employment relationship, and a majority of small businesses still operate in the informal sector. The government has started to address the problem through the creation of a new tax regime for micro- and small enterprises, which seeks to promote formalization of the workforce, and through a comprehensive strategy launched in 2014 to “Go Formal,”29 which pools the benefits and resources of different programs. The NRA identified the high use of cash and relatively large informal economy as a situation that significantly increases the risk that illicit proceeds may be re-channeled into the regulated formal economy.

Financial Inclusion

79. Financial inclusion remains high on the authorities’ agenda. According to the latest Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP), financial services’ provision is concentrated in urban areas, with only 29 percent of the poorest Mexican population having an account, compared to an average of 41 percent in Latin America.30 The introduction of Levels 1, 2, and 3 accounts (see discussions below as well as criterion 1.8 in Technical Compliance Annex—TCA) represent an effort of the Mexican authorities to strike a balance between promoting financial inclusion and managing ML/TF risks.

AML/CFT Strategy

80. Since the publication of the 2010 AML/CFT Strategy, Mexico has made great strides to build a comprehensive and solid legal and institutional AML/CFT framework, which has included (i) the issuance or amendment of several laws and regulations to criminalize ML/TF consistent with the FATF standard; (ii) improve the efficiency of the prevention and combating of ML; (iii) establish all necessary obligations for FIs (including financial supervisory and CDD requirements); (iv) incorporate all DNFBPs and other risky businesses and professions into the AML/CFT regime; (v) establish an asset freezing regime for terrorists, TF, and ML; (vi) improve national coordination of agencies; and (vii) enhance the effectiveness of the judicial and the anti-corruption system. Following the conclusion of the NRA in June 2016, the country is in the process of finalizing and documenting a revised national strategy to address identified ML/TF risks in the NRA that will result in policies to more effectively mitigate those risks.

Legal and Institutional Framework

81. ML and TF are federal crimes. Thus, federal authorities are responsible for directly participating in the prevention of and combat against such crimes, without excluding the collaboration that state or municipal authorities may provide within their respective scope of competence. The national authorities that participate in the prevention of and fight against ML/TF are the following:

Ministries

82. Under constitutional provisions (Article 90) and legal provisions (mainly compiled in a single federal statute titled “The Organic Law of the Federal Public Administration”—”Ley Orgánica de la Administración Pública Federal”) the administrative affairs of the federation are handled by secretariats (i.e., ministries) that are considered part of the Centralized Federal Public Administration.

83. The ministries involved in AML/CFT actions are:

The Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP)

84. Through some of its several administrative units (see following paragraphs), the SHCP plays a key role in the prevention and detection of ML/TF activities mainly by issuing AML/CFT regulations applicable to FIs and other obligated businesses, supervising their compliance thereof, and receiving and analyzing reports and information concerning transactions relating to ML/TF. The SHCP is in charge of regulating FIs and granting authorizations or licenses for the creation and operation of each of them. The Undersecretary of Finance and Public Credit prepares all regulations applicable to FIs through the following units:

  • Banking, Securities, and Savings Unit (Unidad de Banca, Valores y Ahorro).

  • Insurance Pensions and Social Security Unit (Unidad de Seguros Pensiones y Seguridad Social).

  • Development Banking Unit (Unidad de Banca de Desarrollo).

85. Although the SHCP is not directly in charge of supervising compliance of the AML/CFT regime, such a function is carried out by the following agencies that are part of the structure of the SHCP, and referred to as decentralized bodies (órganos desconcentrados, i.e., agencies with technical autonomy in respect of the policies and lines of action they follow that are governed by boards integrated with government officers—the majority of which are appointed by the SHCP—and, in some cases, representatives of the private sector):

  • National Banking and Securities Commission (Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores—CNBV).

  • National Insurance and Sureties Commission (CNSF).

  • National Retirement Savings System Commission (CONSAR).

FIU (Unidad de Inteligencia Financiera—FIU)

86. The SHCP houses the FIU, which is a department that depends on the Minister of Finance and Public Credit. The Unidad de Inteligencia Financiera is Mexico’s FIU. It is an administrative agency part of the SHCP. It is the national central authority for the reception, analysis, and dissemination of financial information relating to ML/TF cases.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores)

87. It negotiates and signs treaties, agreements, and conventions on behalf of Mexico; acts as the transmitter of rogatory letters; and generally assists in MLA and extradition matters.

Law Enforcement and Operational Bodies

The Attorney General’s Office (PGR)

88. It is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all federal crimes, including ML and terrorism financing. The Subprocuraduría de Investigación Especializada en Delincuencia Organizada (SEIDO) has primary responsibility for criminal ML and TF enforcement.

89. The SEIDO is composed of six specialized units: the Specialized Unit for the Investigation of Offenses Against Health (the Special Drug Offenses Unit); Specialized Unit for the Investigation of Operations with Resources of Illicit Origin and Forgery or Alteration of Currency (Special AML Unit); Specialized Unit for the Investigation of Terrorism and Traffic of Weapons (Special Antiterrorism Unit that will analyze, along with the AML Unit, the TF cases); Specialized Unit for the Investigation of Kidnappings; Specialized Unit for the Investigation of Traffic of Undocumented Persons, Minors, and Organs (Special Human Trafficking Unit), and Specialized Unit for the Investigation of Vehicle Theft. In addition to these national units, regional offices of the PGR also prosecute ML offenses that fall within their locality and are not handled by the national units. The PGR is assisted by the Agencia de Investigación Criminal, a police force under its authority and immediate command. Additionally, the PGR is responsible for requesting and receiving MLA requests on criminal matters made pursuant to treaties or on the basis of reciprocity.

The Federal Police

90. The Federal Police is a police force under the authority and immediate command of the Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB) and has the following main objectives:

  • Safeguard the life, integrity, security, and rights of individuals, as well as preserve public liberties, order, and peace;

  • Implement and operate the public security policy in the area of crime prevention and combat;

  • Prevent the commission of crimes; and

  • Investigate the commission of crimes under the direction and command of the Public Ministry of the Federation, only in specific cases as an indirect agency and only when requested by this authority. This function does not constitute its principal duty.

91. It is important to mention that the Federal Police has a dedicated AML unit under the drugs department to assist the Public Ministry of the Federation in the investigation of ML cases, when requested by this authority, without hampering its obligations and in full coordination with other police corps such as the Federal Ministerial Police which, as different agency, has other tasks and is under a different authority as explained in the next paragraph.

Federal Ministerial Police (Policía Federal Ministerial)

92. The Federal Ministerial Police is a police corps under the authority and immediate command of the PGR. This police force as a direct auxiliary of the Agents of the Public Ministry of the Federation is responsible for the investigation of a specific event (prior criminal complaint or ex officio) and the subsequent indictment (alleged perpetrators) to the judge.

The General Customs Administration (Administración General de Aduanas)

93. The Administración General de Aduanas is an administrative unit of the SAT, empowered to receive all declarations of cash or monetary instruments exceeding US$10,000 in value which are being transported across the border and reports these declarations to the FIU. In 1999, Customs created the Supporting Unit for Fiscal and Customs Inspection which implements measures to prevent smuggling of foreign trade merchandise, particularly money, drugs, tobacco, liquor, arms, cars, and jewelry.

The Public Sector Assets Management and Disposal Service (SAE)

94. The SAE was established in accordance with Article 76 of Federal Law for the Administration and Disposition of Public Assets or “Ley Federal para la Administración y Enajenación de Bienes del Sector Público.” The main objective of the SAE is to contribute to the strengthening of public finances and property rights through effective and efficient management and transfer of property and enterprises, including through the destruction of assets and liquidation of enterprises assigned to it. The SAE can administer, dispose of, or destroy property of the public sector either directly or through trustees, liquidators, or administrators it may appoint. Those trustees, liquidators, or administrators shall preferably be units or entities of the Federal Public Administration, or the state and municipal authorities. The SAE will have the following supporting committees: Committee of Insured Assets, Committee of Donations, and other committees that are required. The Committee of Insured Assets referred to by Section I of the previous article will have the following scope: act as a supportive entity to the SAE regarding the administration, transfer, and destruction of the insured, confiscated, and abandoned assets within federal criminal proceedings, which are transferred to that organ; issue the respective opinion regarding the economic compensation for the devolution of such assets, with charge to the corresponding fund.

Other Financial Sector Bodies

Banco de México (Bank of Mexico)

95. It is the central bank of Mexico. Its powers and administration are constitutionally autonomous as provided under Article 28 of the Constitution. Its main purposes are to provide the economy with national currency and attain the stability of the purchasing power of such currency. Additionally, it is in charge of promoting a healthy development of the financial system and fostering the good operation of payment systems.

Financial Sector and DNFBPs

96. Mexico’s financial sector is dominated by banks and highly concentrated around conglomerate structures—which usually include a bank and entities in the insurance and securities sector. The seven largest banks (known as G-7), all fully owned by financial groups, account for about 80 percent of total bank assets. The sector has a large foreign presence, but most activity remains local. Nevertheless, Mexico’s financial sector is rapidly integrating into the global financial system, and at a faster pace than many of its emerging market peers (especially in Latin America).31

97. There is a wide and diverse range of non-core financial intermediaries including cooperative savings and loans companies, credit unions, multiple purpose finance companies, etc. serving many members of the society with limited access to banking services. The money services businesses (MSBs) operating in Mexico include money remitters, exchange centers that only conduct currency exchange, and exchange houses that are authorized to carry out both remittance and currency exchange activities. Money remitters and exchange centers are supervised only for AML/CFT purposes while exchange houses are also regulated for prudential purposes. Exchange centers can only deal with cash or traveler’s checks and are subject to a cap of US$10,000 per customer per day. There are around 1,500 of them, many located in the northern states. In addition, there are entities that provide limited financial services on a very small scale and are not regulated as FIs. They are nevertheless categorized as VA hence are subject to AML/CFT requirements.

98. The tables below illustrate the types of FIs, their numbers, size, and activities:

Table 1.

Types of Financial Institutions

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Source: Source: NRA, MEQ, and FIU.

These also include prepaid cards, vouchers, and coupons companies.

Table 2.

Activities Covered Under FATF Standard

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99. Mexico has subjected all types of DNFBPs to AML/CFT requirements. Notaries are key gatekeepers in many fronts of the AML/CFT regime including formation of companies, real estate transactions, and authentication of identification documents. There are large numbers of lawyers (around 450,000) and accountants (around 600,000) offering a wide range of professional services including those covered by the standard. Only a very small percentage of them belong to one of the associations/colleges, and there is no information on how many of these perform covered activities thus are subject to AML/CFT obligations. As illustrated in the table below, for each sector, only a portion of the operators are registered with the FIU (for lawyers and accountants, this portion AML/CFT is extremely low). There is no evidence that all firms—especially lawyers and accountants—subject to AML/CFT obligations are registered with the FIU.

Preventive Measures

100. The preventive measures applicable to various FIs are embedded in primary laws governing the respective sectors and further spelled out in regulations issued by the SHCP pursuant to the respective laws (see TCA for details). The regulations applicable to various sectors are similar in structure and tailored to respective sectors. Since 2008, Mexico has focused on strengthening the legal and institutional AML/CFT framework in line with the evolving standard, which has included the issuance or amendment of several laws and regulations. Some of the most recent amendments have focused on enhancing transparency on trusts (2014) and allowing further information sharing among Mexican banks and foreign FIs (2014). The latest amendments to the regulations were issued in February/March 2017 applicable to FIs centers32 with transitory periods for existing FIs which vary from one provision to another, hence were not in force during the onsite and not taken into consideration in the analysis of this report. Once they take effect, these amendments would strengthen obligations of certain FIs, including on identifying beneficial owners and assessing ML/TF risks based on customers, products and services, geographical factors and delivery channels. Entities that carry out financial activities categorized as VA are subject to the same legal framework as DNFBPs (see below).

101. DNFBPs were brought into the AML/CFT regime in 2014, which marks an important step forward since Mexico’s last MER in 2008. In addition to the activities covered by the standard, Mexico is subject to certain other activities deemed to be high-risk to AML/CFT requirements. These include, for example, vehicle dealers and art dealers. DNFBPs’ AML/CFT obligations are embedded in Federal Law for the Prevention and Identification of Transactions with Illicit Proceeds and further spelled out in Regulations of the Federal Law for the Prevention and Identification of Transactions with Illicit Proceeds and General Regulations Derived from the Federal Law for the Prevention and Identification of Transactions with Illicit Proceeds. These measures apply to different types of DNFBPs only above certain thresholds which vary from one sector to another.

Legal Persons and Arrangements

102. Under Mexican law, there is a wide variety of legal entities which can be classified in many different ways. Private entities include “societies” (term used under Mexican law to refer to a special type of corporate partnership) of civil or commercial nature; labor unions, professional associations, and other entities formed by workers or employers; cooperative and mutual societies; other associations with political, scientific, artistic, recreational, or any other legal purpose, provided they are “not unknown” by law; and foreign private entities, i.e., private entities governed by the law of the state in which they were incorporated. Since September 2016, there is also a specific type of company available in Mexico—Simplified Company by Shares (Sociedad por Acciones Simplificada). It was created in an effort to stimulate small business and encourage entrepreneurship. It can be formed electronically through the Public Registry of Commerce, it does not require a minimum stock capital, and a minimum of two partners. The company income is capped at five million pesos, after which the company has to be transformed into a usual company.

103. Although, under Mexican law, only individuals or legal entities are entitled to own property, some other legal arrangements can be established under Mexican law to segregate certain rights or obligations, including property rights of assets. Such arrangements are fideicomisos (an arrangement with similar legal effects as those produced by trusts) and “associations in participation” (i.e., joint ventures).

Supervisory Arrangements

104. The SHCP is the body responsible for the overall regulation of compliance with AML/CFT obligations, but operational responsibility is delegated by statute to the CNBV, CNSF, CONSAR, and SAT, respectively (refer to Table 3 above for their respective purview).

Table 3.

Types of DNFBPs

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Source: NRA (tables 86 and 88), Annex 1 of the MEQ, FIU

105. The primary legislation governing each type of institution within the financial sector and accompanying regulations grants CNBV, CNSF, and CONSAR a broad range of powers to supervise licensed and registered institutions for compliance with both prudential and AML/CFT requirements. The three financial supervisors have statutory powers to conduct inspections, request any relevant information from the institutions that they supervise, and apply sanctions for non-compliance with the preventive measures but the CNBV does not have explicit power to revoke a banking license for breaches of AML/CFT failings.

106. The SAT is responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance of all VA (including defined financial activities and DNFBPs) with AML/CFT obligations. It does not have the authority to monitor for CFT compliance. SAT has powers to perform inspections and request information but its powers to sanction (through the SHCP) are limited to imposing financial penalties, except that for notaries, public brokers and customs agents it is able to revoke an authorization.

International Cooperation

107. Mexico has a solid legal and institutional framework in place to seek and provide information. Mexico cooperates with many countries, especially the U.S. The international cooperation unit within PGR is the central authority for all incoming and outgoing MLA and extradition requests. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also consulted in relation to some MLA and extradition requests. Supervisors, FIU, and LEAs also cooperate with their foreign counterparts on a bilateral basis.

National AML/CFT Policies and Coordination

A. Key Findings

The authorities’ understanding of ML and TF risks is good but less so with respect to the widespread risk of corruption. The NRA was concluded in 2016 with the involvement of all competent authorities and the private sector. The NRA does not specifically differentiate risks associated with different types of legal persons, although it mentions that using front companies is one of the most widespread ML techniques.

Two high-level groups were created in November 2016 for the purpose of developing and coordinating the efforts for revising the country’s AML/CFT policy. The authorities are in the process of finalizing and documenting a comprehensive and coordinated AML/CFT national strategy that addresses the identified ML/TF risks by prioritizing specific actions.

There is generally good coordination on ML issues between the FIU, PGR, and the supervisors, but less so between LEAs and PGR. Coordination on TF issues is less developed. The challenges for inter-agency cooperation on ML, in particular among LEAs at the federal and state level, hamper Mexico’s ability to more effectively tackle ML cases.

There are no sectors exempted from the AML/CFT requirements, and the authorities have added some VAs that go beyond the standard (e.g., car dealers), which is worth highlighting.

The financial sector was closely involved in the development of the NRA and informed of its results; DNFBP involvement was more limited. There has been an extensive outreach by the FIU and supervisors to communicate the results of the NRA to reporting entities.

B. Recommended Actions

  • The next NRA should better anticipate emerging trends in predicate offenses and associated ML risks.

  • Take steps to ensure that inter-agency cooperation is strengthened among LEAs at the federal and state level.

  • Take steps to ensure that there is a more comprehensive analysis of TF risks and vulnerabilities of certain sectors, products or services, and enhanced communication to concerned agencies to improve their understanding of TF risks.

  • Mexico should further revise the vulnerability analysis of some DNFBP sectors such as notaries, lawyers, and accountants.

  • Mexico should finalize updating the national strategy and documenting its national policy following the publication of the NRA, in order to coordinate prioritization of key risks through prevention, avoidance, and mitigation measures.

  • Mexico should take additional steps to improve the level of DNFBPs’ awareness of the results of the national assessments of ML/TF.

C. Immediate Outcome 1 (Risk, Policy and Coordination)

Country’s Understanding of its ML/TF Risks

108. The NRA process has established a basis for the private sector and government agencies to better understand Mexico’s ML/TF risks. Where the NRA process has addressed or identified higher threats and vulnerabilities, a consistent national understanding has emerged. Mexico’s officials report that a more comprehensive analysis was conducted, underpinning the assessment. For example, the FIU conducted several FI and VA sectoral risk assessments, and there are confidential agency-level risk assessments by key federal LEAs within their area of expertise (e.g., terrorism). In addition, the assessors received other documents describing reviews of ML risk areas that were produced to demonstrate the authorities’ understanding of risk (e.g., in the case of corruption).

109. Overall, Mexico has attained a good level of understanding of its ML risks through a risk assessment process that finalized in June 2016. There is a good understanding of ML risks within the FIU and the financial supervisors, but less so within the SAT which supervises DNFBPs.

110. The Mexican authorities’ main focus, as far as TF risks are concerned, is on STRs provided by FIs involving high-risk jurisdictions and the FIU analysis of its database to identify targets (see more under IO.6). For NPOs, in early 2017, the FIU produced a special NPO monitoring program based on a pattern provided by the SAT. A process is executed to identify the characteristics and the TF risk profile and to conduct intensified monitoring of its financial and equity transactions. The FIU is following and analyzing new identified TF trends and techniques related to terrorist groups (e.g., ISIL, al Qaeda) published by the FATF. Authorities’ views reflected a reasonable understanding of potential TF risk areas in Mexico. Nevertheless, Mexico does not have clear policies to identify or designate terrorist organizations. Competent authorities were not clear on whether some groups operating in the region or conflict zones are considered terrorist organizations in Mexico. This might affect the efforts and distract the focus of competent authorities in order to disrupt TF.

111. Mexico’s knowledge of ML risks associated with drug trafficking, in the context of domestic and transnational crime, is particularly well developed. As indicated above, corruption was not identified as a major threat for ML in the NRA, which would not help authorities properly prioritize to address it. Nonetheless, there is also a growing recognition of corruption-related ML risks by the FIU and PGR, including the main channels and methods to launder proceeds of corruption mostly committed in Mexico with layering and integration in and outside Mexico as was shown in some cases—including grand corruption and collusion between organized crime and certain state and municipal high ranking officials (such as the case of Governor Duarte in Veracruz),33 and the misuse of public funds either by ex-governors or other public servants. Although authorities are aware that corruption of LEAs, in particular at the state and municipality levels, is widespread mainly due to extortion or infiltrated by the OCGs, this was not noted in the report nor highlighted as a vulnerability by the various authorities met during the mission.

112. Overall, the NRA relies on many sources of information, but more weight in the analysis and understanding of authorities was given to the FIU information. Nevertheless, the analysis of the regulatory framework and investigation of ML/TF cases was mostly based on information provided by supervisory authorities, and LEAs and the judicial branch, respectively. The approach taken by the financial supervisors to assessing risk differs slightly from the basis used in preparing the NRA (which draws heavily on information available to the FIU), but the conclusions are broadly similar and consistent. In all cases, the risk models adopted by the respective supervisors benefit from significant input from the FIU, resulting from its analysis of the quality and content of the STRs and CTRs that have been submitted. With regard to the DNFBPs, the NRA’s findings do not appear reasonable in rating notaries and professionals, who are highly exposed to risks associated with misuse of legal persons, as low risk. The SAT tends to take a more limited view of ML/TF risks than others, and does not appear to understand that the nation-wide ML/TF risks identified in the NRA might impact particularly the DNFBP sectors.

113. Mexico also has a good understanding of the significant threats it faces from various sources (e.g., drug trafficking, organized crime, tax evasion, human trafficking, extortion, oil theft, and arms trafficking). The NRA could also have better anticipated emerging ML risks associated with the large informal economy. The NRA considers as a threat factor the amounts of POC generated abroad and laundered in Mexico. However, it could detail better the estimate of those amounts and the laundering channels. The authorities’ understanding of channels used to launder POCs committed abroad is also limited.

National Policies to Address Identified ML/TF Risks

114. Mexico has recently established two high-level groups on AML and CFT that seem to act as the main national AML/CFT policy coordination mechanism.34 Major policy changes that require political endorsement, and/or legislative changes, are tabled at the two high-level groups under the leadership of the FIU and the PGR. Overall, AML/CFT policies, activities, and resource allocations are not sufficiently well-focused on addressing the ML/TF risks through the various public and confidential national and agency-level risk assessments. Some agencies have discussed their strategic plans with the assessors; however, the authorities do not seem to have annual performance goals. Mexico does not have a comprehensive policy in place to prioritize the financial investigation and prosecution of ML as a standalone offense. The component parts—financial intelligence, investigation, prosecution, conviction, and sanctions—are not functioning coherently to mitigate ML risks. While the financial sector supervisors have all developed a reasonable risk-based approach to framing their annual program of onsite inspections, and the inspection procedures are increasingly becoming risk-based, there is little evidence to suggest that SAT has developed a risk-based approach to supervision.

115. The two high-level groups comprise the same agencies that coordinate the implementation of AML/CFT efforts at an operational level, and provide a platform for agencies to share information such as emerging ML/TF threats and trends. The meetings also facilitated AML/CFT policy coordination and implementation across the agencies. The high-level groups introduced some preliminary measures in February 2017 to prioritize actions needed to mitigate the identified threats and vulnerabilities of the system. Some policy responses were adopted to address current and emerging threats, in particular by the FIU, the supervisors, and the PGR.35 However, the identification of threats and vulnerabilities has not impacted the allocation of resources of competent authorities. Mexican authorities explained this is due to the fact that an independent exercise to develop a comprehensive AML/CFT national strategy is still underway, objectives and policies, which takes into account the conclusion of the NRA and which is about to be finalized. The new AML/CFT national strategy should also prioritize the coordination of the AML/CFT with anticorruption and tax evasion policies.

116. Furthermore, the Mexican state has taken concrete actions to promote a thorough coordination between AML and anti-corruption agencies. Legal provisions were enacted to enable the respective authorities to set out that coordination. As part of these legal provisions, the FIU has entered into collaboration agreements with authorities in charge of investigating corruption cases, such as the Federal Ministry of Public Function, the Superior Auditor of the Federation and the Council of the Federal Judicial Branch, that allowed such agencies to build cases on anti-corruption and the laundering of the respective proceeds with information held by such authorities. The authorities have given priority to the investigation of the actual proceeds of corruption, as reflected in the constitutional amendment published in 2015, which created the National Anti-Corruption System precisely to implement on a federal and state level a coordinated action among all relevant authorities with respect to audit of public funds and analysis of information and investigation of corruption cases.

Exemptions, Enhanced and Simplified Measures

117. Mexico does not exempt any activities covered in the standard from AML/CFT requirements. However, financial authorities issued a series of provisions to establish a simplified low transaction banking account identification and monitoring system in order to facilitate the access to the banking system for unbanked population from 2009 to 2011. The low risk deposit accounts are classified, for AML/CFT purposes, into three levels of operation (see criterion 1.8 in the TCA).

118. Level 1 accounts appear to be low risk, because although there are minimal requirements for opening, there are safeguards in place such as the limitation on deposits and balances, as well as the inability to transfer funds, which make these accounts unattractive for ML purposes. Furthermore, the range of transactions that the holders of these accounts may perform is limited. Level 2 and 3 accounts relax the thresholds on deposits and balances but impose increasingly stricter identification requirements. Analysis conducted by the authorities indicated that the average monthly balances of Level 1 and Level 2 accounts were well below the caps. In addition, the FIU has not detected any cases in which Level 1 and 2 accounts have been misused for ML or TF. There has been no analysis on Level 3 accounts. The exemptions seem to be broadly appropriate given the identified ML/TF risks. Mexico does not have clear requirements for properly assessing the risks before allowing simplified measures by FIs categorized as VAs and DNFBPs.

119. Mexico identified certain activities that might represent an ML risk and subject certain sectors not covered by the standard to AML/CFT requirements, such as car dealers and art dealers.

120. Mexico introduced some measures to restrict the use of cash in certain circumstances. Justifications should be provided for cash payments above a certain threshold. In addition to the restrictions on receiving U.S. dollars in the cash payments above, a number of measures were introduced to restrict the use of cash in pesos (e.g., for purchasing real estate and vehicles). Although the surplus of U.S. dollars has been dramatically reduced over the past years, the NRA shows that the use of Mexican pesos as cash has continued to grow, except in relation to the products and services for which restrictions were established (e.g., purchase/sale of real estate and vehicles, precious metals and stones, etc.).36

Operational Objectives and Activities of Competent Authorities

121. While the financial sector supervisory authorities broadly agree with the conclusions of the NRA, of which they were a key component, they have each developed their own sector risk assessments, which are based on more substantive and diverse data than that which was used for their relevant sections of the NRA. For the most part, there is an alignment in the conclusions and, therefore, the way in which the supervisory authorities seek to employ their limited resources based on the risk assessments. The situation is not so clear with respect to the SAT.

122. The FIU regularly adapts its policies based on the results of its operational and strategic analysis. It could better align its policy to focus on core functions (receipt, analysis, and dissemination) without investing further in complementary functions it is currently conducting (e.g., blocking accounts, tactical analysis requiring field operations) or envisaging to develop in the future (e.g., financial investigations).

123. LEAs and the PGR should allocate more resources and align their objectives and policies further to pursue ML, parallel investigations related to underlying crimes, and TF.

National Coordination and Cooperation

124. The recently created High Level Groups on AML and CFT have started to coordinate AML/CFT national policies although there are to date few results to show. There is generally good coordination on ML issues between the FIU and the supervisors, but less so between LEAs and PGR. Coordination on TF issues is far less developed.

125. In Mexico’s banking supervision, the law foresees exchange of information, including confidential information, between the SHCP, Banco de México, the CONSAR, the Institute for the Protection of Bank Savings, the National Commission for the Protection of Financial Service Users and the CNBV. Where appropriate, the authorities have entered into MOUs in order to facilitate exchanges.

126. Financial supervisors’ annual inspections programs are strengthened thanks to the cooperation between the CNBV and the FIU, and the PGR. In this regard, the information collected by the FIU is relevant for supervisors in order to prepare for an inspection. In particular, the FIU shares a feedback report which facilitates planning the issues that are to be discussed during inspections. Once they are completed, the FIU is informed about the outcomes of the inspections.

127. The communication channels between the FIU and the supervisors include feedback reports that are made through written communications, information requests and in some cases, controlled access to the FIU databases. Working level meetings are also held with the various agencies.

Private Sector’s Awareness of Risks

128. The authorities have mechanisms in place to ensure that FIs, DNFBPs, and other sectors are aware of the relevant results of the national ML/TF risk assessments. A summary of the NRA, in which the private sector was an active participant, is a public document available on the FIU website. The FIU, along with the CNBV, continues to promote the implementation of requirements on a risk-sensitive basis in line with the standard by having meetings with the top management of the entities, and by participation in training programs, and seminars. Other supervisors are not very proactive in raising awareness of risks to the sectors they oversee. The risk information provided is not customized sufficiently to their respective sectors.

129. All private sector representatives met were aware of and expressed their general agreement on the NRA’s findings. However, some DNFBPs’ view about the level of risks to which their own sector is exposed is at odds with the NRA findings. This may be attributed to the insufficient involvement of DNFBPs in the process and their general low level of awareness of AML/CFT issues or an attempted excuse not to assume their responsibilities in the fight against ML/TF.

130. The FIU continues to be major vehicle for the authorities and the private sector to share inputs on risks. The FIU is heavily oriented to the depository sector reflecting the significant role of banks as the primary gatekeepers of the financial sector, along with the brokerage firms and the MVTS. It is also the primary distributor of general guidance on AML/CFT matters, including risk management, to the DNFBPs, and works closely with the financial sector supervisors in providing guidance to their respective sectors.

Overall Conclusions on Immediate Outcome 1

131. Overall, Mexico has achieved a substantial level of effectiveness for IO.1.

Legal System and Operational Issues

A. Key Findings

Although Mexico is producing good financial intelligence, it does not have a comprehensive policy in place to prioritize the financial investigation and prosecution of ML as a standalone offense. The component parts—financial intelligence, investigation, prosecution, conviction, and sanctions—are not functioning coherently to properly mitigate the ML risks. The number of ML convictions and confiscations is low.

Immediate Outcome 6

The FIU functions well and produces good operational and strategic analyzes that generally serve the PGR in launching ML, and associated predicate crimes investigations. The FIU has the resources and skills to collect and use a wide variety of intelligence and other relevant information to develop analysis and produce good intelligence. Several competent authorities have direct access to the FIU database to support their operational needs.

However, the FIU’s spontaneous disseminations to the PGR relating to ML and underlying offenses are generally low. Although the FIU is disseminating different types of intelligence of use for recipient agencies, the financial intelligence is not often appropriately used by the PGR to launch ML/TF investigations and trace assets.

The weak cash courier declaration system, the weak reporting from DNFBPs, and overall shortcomings in the reporting regime, combined with the lack of availability of BO information impact the FIU’s ability to properly analyze and share accurate and timely intelligence.

Immediate Outcome 7

Until relatively recently, the PGR did not rank the investigation of ML as one of its key priorities. Most of the PGR’s efforts are focused on strengthening the investigation of the threats posed by predicate offenses perpetrated by OCGs (mainly drug trafficking activities) and scant attention is paid to ML.

Two specialized units (Specialized Unit for the Investigation of Operations Involving Resources of Unlawful Origin and Counterfeiting—UEIORPIFAM, and the Specialized Unit for Financial Analysis—UEAF) have been established to strengthen the investigation and prosecution of ML. However, there are no standard operating procedures describing when an ML investigation should be initiated, with the consequence that these units very rarely open a parallel ML investigation when the competent unit initiates an investigation into the main predicate offenses, such as drug trafficking, corruption, or organized crime. In addition, the processes and criteria applicable to the prioritization of cases remain unclear and ML is very rarely investigated and prosecuted as a standalone offense.

The conviction rate is extremely low. The figures reveal a high degree of ineffectiveness in the way in which investigations are initiated (investigations opened without sufficient reasonable grounds) and in the way in which they are conducted (e.g., deficiencies in investigation methodology, overly long procedures, lack of internal coordination between the different specialized units at federal and state level and lack of expertise). With respect to investigation methodology, financial information supplied by the FIU is underused and special investigation techniques are rarely employed, which is compounded by the fact that no statutory provision is made for controlled deliveries.

The shortcomings identified in relation to IO.2 (e.g., the PGR does not often proactively seek assistance through international cooperation mechanisms when the offense has a transnational element) have a negative impact on the investigation of ML.

Immediate Outcome 8

The POC are not effectively confiscated. Mexico does not have a defined policy to pursue POC, and POC investigations are not part of the overall investigative strategy.

The FIU has endeavored to improve timeliness in the application of provisional measures for instrumentalities and proceeds subject to confiscation through the BPL system. However, this has not resulted in improvements in the level of confiscations.

Technical deficiencies in the cross-border declaration system affect the ability to effectively target and confiscate falsely declared and suspicious cross-border movements of currency.

Lack of resources, capacity, and expertise limit the ability to successfully prioritize ML and predicated offense investigations and trace and confiscation of POCs. The lack of complete confiscation statistics makes it challenging to assess the extent to which Mexico is successfully pursuing confiscation. However, the available statistics suggest that the number of confiscations is low in absolute terms and relative to Mexico’s risk profile.

B. Recommended Actions

Immediate Outcome 6

  • FIU should increase the level of timely spontaneous disseminations of information and intelligence relating to ML and underlying crimes. Further FIU disseminations combined with more proactive action by the PGR will result in an increased number of financial investigations.

  • The FIU should increase the number of additional requests of information for the purposes of the FIU’s operational analysis and dissemination, especially from DNFBPs.

  • In coordination with supervisors, the FIU should further improve its guidance and feedback to reporting entities to enhance the quality of STRs from FIs and the quantity of STRs from the DNFBPs.

Immediate Outcome 7

  • The PGR should (i) prioritize the investigation of ML at both federal and state levels; (ii) ensure that ML is treated as a priority by the units responsible for the investigation and prosecution of the main predicate offenses; and (iii) raise awareness of the importance of having recourse to international cooperation tools for the purpose of gathering evidence from other countries and seizing assets located abroad.

  • From an institutional standpoint, the PGR should strengthen internal coordination between its units, at federal and state levels, and to that end establish clearer criteria delimiting their individual competences. In parallel, the PGR should increase the level of specialization of its units, particularly within those dealing with ML.

  • From an operational standpoint, the PGR should develop a manual which clearly describes (i) when an ML investigation should be initiated; (ii) the criteria to be applied to prioritize these cases; and (iii) the investigation methodology to be used in order to secure the necessary evidence, making best use of financial information and special investigation techniques.

Immediate Outcome 8

  • Mexican authorities should integrate confiscation as a major policy objective within the national AML/CFT policies and strategies.

  • Mexico should have as a practice the initiation of parallel financial investigations in accordance with Mexico’s ML/TF risks; to that end Mexico should provide training and technical expertise to PGR.

  • Mexico should develop internal procedures for cooperation and coordination among PGR and FIU in order to prioritize investigations that can lead to assets subject to confiscation.

  • Mexico should fix the technical deficiencies in its declaration system in order to pursue and effectively confiscate target falsely/not declared or disclosed cross-border movements of currency.

  • Mexico should consider finalizing and implementing the assets forfeiture legal framework reform to enhance the overall confiscation regime.

The relevant Immediate Outcomes considered and assessed in this chapter are IO.6–8. The recommendations relevant for the assessment of effectiveness under this section are R.3, R.4, and R.29–32.

C. Immediate Outcome 6 (Financial Intelligence ML/TF)

Use of Financial Intelligence and Other Information

132. The Mexican authorities—especially PGR and LEAs—have comprehensive access to financial intelligence and other relevant information. However, they do not often use this information in financial investigations in order to develop evidence and trace criminal proceeds related to ML, associated predicate offenses and TF. Although the PGR and the SAT have direct access to the wide range of data and intelligence held by the FIU, and are increasingly accessing the information (see table below), financial investigations are often triggered by spontaneous disseminations by the FIU rather than the launch of parallel investigations into ML resulting from the FIU dissemination upon request.

133. The FIU has signed several memoranda of understanding (MOUs) to facilitate a controlled access and use (including conducting queries) of financial intelligence and other information by the SAT and the PGR. From 2010 to December 2016, the PGR made 4,635 requests for information to the FIU. The number of requests of information decreased considerably from 2014 to 2016 since the PGR got direct access to the FIU’s database. Since then, PGR conducted 1,322 queries, while the SAT has conducted 16,772 queries through controlled access from 2014 to December 2016. Some specialized agencies do not sufficiently access the FIU database that would allow them to launch ML investigations (see table below).

Table 4.

Number of Controlled Access to FIU Information

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Table 5.

Top Requestors of Information from the FIU

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134. The FIU database accessed by the PGR and the SAT contains a wide range of financial, administrative, and law enforcement information. It contains a high number of STRs and CTRs37 (please refer to more information under IO.3). Most of the information and data is fully integrated in the FIU database (e.g., STRs, CTRs), while other information is accessed directly (e.g., commercial databases) or indirectly (e.g., Electronic Interbank Payment System (SPEI) Interbank Transfers, Informative Tax Returns F35).

135. Since 2013, the FIU integrated more than 650 million records from sources mentioned under the table below into its database. Seventy-one (out of 100) sources of information were integrated into its data warehouse. The information is related to around 14 million subjects and is easily accessed and searched. The wide range of information and data provide the FIU with good matching capability and with the capability to quickly identify targets and possible POC.

Table 6.

Information Accessed by the FIU

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136. The FIU and the U.S. FinCEN share STRs and other relevant information on an annual basis or as needed. This is mostly related to cross-border transactions between the two countries that enrich their databases and trigger more cases. Since 2013, the two FIUs shared 138,297 reports that resulted in complementing the investigation of 105 individuals in Mexico.

137. The representatives of the PGR and the SAT met by the assessment team confirmed that the access they have to FIU financial intelligence is very helpful for their investigations. However, there are several impediments to the effective use of financial intelligence and other information to develop evidence and trace criminal proceeds related to ML, associated predicate offenses and TF.

138. The first category of impediments is that some of the information accessed is not always complete or up to date (quality of information); the second is that the information accessed is not always leading to the launch of ML financial investigations (use of financial intelligence), and the third is particularly related to TF cases (TF cases).

139. The quality of some of the information contained in the FIU database or accessed by the FIU is not always complete. For instance, the FIU does not readily have access to accurate BO information of legal persons and arrangements and the basic information in the commercial register is not always up to date (see more under IO.5). Also, the border declaration reports are often related to the smuggling of cash rather than suspicions emanating from the declaration regime (see IO.8 for more information).

140. The quality and quantity of STRs may also be lacking (see IO.4 for more information). Although the reporting of STRs (unusual and 24h suspicious) and threshold reporting improved significantly in recent years through more guidance and feedback to reporting entities mostly banks, the quality is not always at the expected level for—among others—the following reasons: (i) reporting from non-bank FIs and DNFBPs is still low or poor quality; (ii) the reporting regime is not entirely clear about the distinction between unusual and suspicious; and (iii) guidance and feedback is not fully aligned with main ML risks (i.e., no specific guidance on PEPs in relation to proceeds of corruption, or typologies and indicators specific to tax evasion or organized crimes).

141. On the use of information, although the PGR and SAT are regularly accessing FIU information (thousands of requests related to tens of thousands of persons), few ML investigations are proactively launched besides those triggered by spontaneous disseminations by the FIU. This is due to that fact that the PGR needs the FIU’s explicit consent to prosecute when the shared information is obtained from FIs, and the lack of capacity and proactiveness in launching parallel investigations of the PGR’s newly established units.

142. From 2013 to 2016, the PGR made around 1,439 consultations/access to the FIU database that resulted in opening 80 investigations. While 65 are still ongoing, 15 cases have already resulted in 35 arrests, seven seizures, and two convictions.

143. From the successful cases shared with the assessment team, it seems that the financial intelligence is often assisting in tracing criminal proceeds in bank accounts. The FIU has access to a wide range of information, including that held by notaries that allow it to extend the analysis and identify other types of illegal properties and assets (e.g., vehicles, real estate, boats, etc.). The FIU could improve further its capacity to identify assets and property by coordinating further with the SAT to improve the level of reporting from DNFBPs and increase its additional requests to DNFBPs.

144. Third, in relation to TF, few cases have been proactively disseminated by the FIU to the intelligence services. The FIU is proactively analyzing patterns and information that it deems suspicious for TF. Conversely, competent authorities including the intelligence services do not seem to proactively access, request, and use FIU information to launch TF investigations. Most of the access with the FIU is related to ML and underlying crimes, but less so in relation to TF.

STRs Received and Requested by Competent Authorities

145. Competent authorities make use of STRs and CTRs when spontaneously disseminated by the FIU. The PGR launched some investigations resulting from border declarations. Although many reports contain relevant, accurate and useful information, the quality of reports, although improving, varies across sectors.

146. The amount of information received by the FIU has increased in the last three years. In 2012, the FIU received 12 million reports, while in 2015, the amount had grown to 20.1 million reports (i.e., almost a 68 percent increase).

Figure 2.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.

Reports Received by the FIU Annually

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2017, 405; 10.5089/9781484335482.002.A001

147. As indicated above, the FIU provides access to its data to the PGR and the SAT at the federal and state level. From January 2013 to December 2016, the FIU generated 508 responses to requests for information from national authorities, including on transactions from 2,020 natural and legal persons. In accordance with the above, 1,083,783 CTRs were used to respond to requests for information from authorities, 277,921 Notices of VA and 41,898 reports of international transfers, these being the three sources most commonly used to respond to such requests. Other authorities can also request information from the FIU. For instance, the National Electoral Institute (INE) requested information about transaction reports or the history of individuals and companies involved in the electoral process. The FIU has identified two suspicious individuals and 27 legal persons during 2015–2016, which resulted in the cancellation of the registration and other sanctions for such parties.

148. Several areas undermine the reception and request of reports by competent authorities. The information is not always relevant nor accurate to assist them in performing their duties.

149. The FIU has noted a general improvement in the quality of FIs’ reporting, but smaller firms are facing greater challenges. The authorities had some concerns about the quality of UTRs/STRs across all sectors, notably in relation to transactions analysis. There is little information related to terrorism and TF that was spontaneously sent to the FIU. The FIU conducts its own analysis and receives TF-related information as a result of its own request. UTR/STR reporting by big firms is not always as prompt as it should be. Reporting by DNFBPs is generally poor in both quantitative and qualitative terms.

150. Deficiencies in CDD requirements (in particular the lack of comprehensive BO requirements) can undermine the usefulness of the reports received and requested by competent authorities. This is particularly important in relation to legal persons and arrangements.

151. The cash couriers’ reports comprise mostly detected smuggled cash and not reports collected through the declaration regime, since the system is still deficient in many ways. The system is not being implemented evenly across check points, and mostly focused on specific entry points (see more information under IO.8). As indicated above, the quality of some information collected and accessed by the FIU could also be enhanced (e.g., basic and BO information of legal persons).

152. The FIU makes requests for additional information from reporting entities—on its own initiative or based on requests from other competent authorities—in order to extend the scope of financial analysis and trace assets. It can also identify additional accounts, assets, or activities from the broad range of reports it receives or collects (e.g., threshold reports, interbank transfers or checks, real estate declared by notaries). However, the number of additional requests to reporting entities is limited, especially as it concerns DNFBPs, particularly when taking into account that the concerned agencies often rely on the FIU to collect the additional information from reporting entities instead of collecting it directly. Processing requests for authorizing such use of the data is also an extra burden on the FIU.

Table 7.

Number of FIU Requests of Additional Information

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Operational Needs Supported by FIU Analysis and Dissemination

153. The FIU’s analysis and dissemination support the operational needs of competent authorities whether through spontaneous or upon request disseminations. However, the FIU spontaneous disseminations are not leading to a sufficient number of financial investigations by the PGR. The FIU’s main focus is on disseminating well-documented cases with a high probability of being successfully prosecuted. Spontaneous disseminations—although in limited number—are often used to launch financial investigations and trace assets.

154. In addition, intelligence notes are regularly sent to other domestic and foreign agencies (e.g., the SAT, Ministry of Defense, the civil intelligence agency, Ministry of Marine in Mexico, and the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control—OFAC, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency—DEA, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—ICE). For instance, 829 subjects were analyzed in 2015 and 599 in 2016. On the domestic level, such information sharing with domestic agencies resulted in actions (often outside of investigations of ML). For instance, another FIU product was sent to the National Electoral Institute (in charge of monitoring political party’s financing), which resulted in cancellation of the registration of some 121 individuals and companies as national suppliers of the institute. Another FIU program was sent to the Ministry of Energy, and resulted in cancellation of a company’s ability to participate in the Ministry’s auctions. As indicated under the international cooperation section, many of those intelligence notes resulted in investigations or designations in the U.S.

155. FIU analysis for operational and strategic purposes: The FIU generated a total of 7,473 notes of analysis from January 2013 to December 2016, which include information on 17,094 subjects, 78 percent of the subjects analyzed generated notes for internal use, while 22 percent have been analyzed for the purpose of being disseminated as intelligence products. The risk assessment models assign a priority level of risk for reported subjects to detect, prevent and report possible ML/TF acts with greater timeliness and efficiency.

Table 8.

Subjects Examined by Risk Assessment Models (Information as of December 2016)

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156. The FIU has different models to identify specific risks: first transactions of a subject are evaluated by source of information, with the aim of identifying transactions related to illicit acts within the same data source. In the second instance and from 2016, a model of global risk is executed which includes all reports and notices received by the FIU to detect possible ML.

157. Also, to detect and evaluate potential transactions related to TF or corruption, models have been generated with variables and specific parameters of these crimes. Consequently, it follows that under the Risk Assessment Model, almost 98 percent of subjects reported for suspicious, relevant, and internal transactions are rated from 0 to 5, while two percent of subjects reported for suspicious, relevant, and concerning internal transactions have a rating of 5 to 10. Among subjects with risk rating higher than 9.5 in the Risk Assessment Model, 37 natural persons, i.e., 60 percent of analyzed subjects were included in requests for prosecution in the BPL or in intelligence notes, while 22 legal persons, i.e., 70 percent of analyzed subjects were included in those kinds of products.

Table 9.

Statistics of Lists Monitored by the FIU

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158. The FIU regularly conducts strategic analysis to identify ML/TF trends and methods and share related intelligence reports with reporting entities and concerned agencies. It regularly provides supervisory authorities with analysis of the quality and quantity of reports filed by reporting entities to direct supervisors to the areas of strength and weaknesses.

Table 10.

Sample of Strategic Analysis Studies Conducted by the FIU

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159. FIU disseminations to PGR: From 2013 to June 2016, the FIU disseminated 317 cases with the PGR related to ML constituting an upward trend due to the improvements in the risk assessment models of the reports received, improved analysis procedures, a greater number of sources of information, and improvements in regulatory and legal instruments available to the FIU. An amount of Mex$233,987 million is related to these requests for prosecution. The spontaneous disseminations are mostly related to proceeds of drug crimes and corruption.

ML Investigation Triggered by FIU Dissemination—2014 Best Egmont Case Award

The collaboration between national and international agencies led to the detection and disruption of a network of 42 shell companies with different lines of business located in Mexico and abroad. The network was created to offer ML services to criminal organizations through a group of independent agents who contacted customers to offer their services, charging a fee of one to five percent. This case was awarded the Best Egmont Case Award in 2014, due to the complexity of the scheme, robust investigation and analysis, and the national and international cooperation to dismantle the network.

The analysis of the case was triggered by the risk model designed in the FIU for prioritization of reports received. A series of STRs were identified that contained high risk elements, such as potential virtual offices that did not match the customer activity, a significant number and amounts of international transfers operated in a short period of time with recipients who had a wide range of economic activities, such as the marketing of textiles, international trade, marketing of cell phones, casinos, air and land freight activities, legal services, all of this not consistent with its stated profiles.

The analysis identified the suspicious companies in the network (42 in total located in Mexico and abroad) that were used to perform various operations and provide financial services to its customers, such as raising funds, many of them in cash, exchanging currencies, sending national or international transfers, among others, which in many cases did not go through the financial sector.

Identifying the beneficial owners of this network was difficult. The company shareholders were low profile employees and not those who really controlled or owned the companies. The coordination with U.S. FinCEN led to the identification of the leader of the network, the 42 companies involved and more than 1,500 individuals who carried out the relevant transactions. The resources were identified to have been scattered mostly through international transfers to more than 42 countries, the main destinations of transfers were the U.S., Panama, Hong Kong, and China.

The FIU dissemination led to the PGR interception of communications of some individuals involved. The leader, 38 of his closest collaborators, and the addresses of two of their operational offices were identified. An arrest warrant was issued on charges of ML and organized crime against the leader of the illicit network and one of his collaborators, who were subsequently imprisoned while the judicial process continued. Thirty-nine bank accounts were secured with a total of US$13.4 million and two properties. There are no convictions in this case. One property was seized for a value of approximately Mex$6 million.

160. The largest number of transactions reports used in intelligence products generated by the FIU (excluding programs) corresponds to those sent by commercial banks. In total, intelligence products refer or incorporate in the analysis 4.4 million reports generated by this sector, meaning 94 percent of all reports associated with the products concerned. A total of 54,541 STRs have been part of intelligence products. This figure represents nine percent of all reports of such transactions, received from 2012 and June 2016.

161. The FIU disseminates requests for prosecution to the PGR and other intelligence products to several concerned agencies. The intelligence products are usually in a form of (i) notes: intelligence analysis and diagnostics; (ii) answers to requests for information from national authorities; (iii) answers to requests for information from international authorities; (iv) operations analysis report; and (v) programs: massive analysis of groups of subjects.

Figure 3.
Figure 3.

Number of Requests for ML Prosecution Presented by the FIU

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2017, 405; 10.5089/9781484335482.002.A001

Table 11.

Crimes Identified in the Formulated Requests for Prosecution

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Crimes related with credit institutions law, terrorism, human trafficking, child pornography, and corruption.

Table 12.

Amount Associated with Requests for Prosecution for a Previous Crime (Millions of Pesos)

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162. FIU resources: The FIU has in general an adequate budget that tripled from 2010 (Mex$69.6 million) to 2016 (Mex$185 million). While half of the budget is allocated for salaries, the remainder covers several other costs (e.g., premises, IT infrastructure). The number of employees also increased from 138 to 164 in 2015, with a decrease to 146 in 2016. From 2010 until 2016, the FIU received subsidies from the U.S. government to upgrade the IT infrastructure.

163. The FIU support to the operational needs of competent authorities could be enhanced on several fronts, more precisely by improving further its analysis and disseminations in the areas below.

164. The FIU power to block accounts through the LBP for TFS regime related to terrorism and TF was amplified in December 2014 to cover designations of money launderers. This power to block accounts (but not other property and assets) is often used and could result in tipping off suspicious persons when the case is disseminated to prosecution. The FIU often uses these powers (and not only in exceptional cases where there is a high probability that the suspicious proceeds will be transferred outside Mexico) which might jeopardize the proper use of intelligence by PRG to effectively trace criminal proceeds related to ML, underlying crimes, and TF. As a result, the PGR could encounter delays in imposing provisional measures. The FIU allocates three full-time persons to impose and defend these decisions before the courts (when the FIU is sued) which could otherwise be reallocated to its core functions (receipt, analysis and dissemination of information).

165. The process of analysis of cases sent for prosecution is often slow (see table below for year 2016) and requires collecting high volume of data and additional information resulting in a delay in disseminating the intelligence. Large numbers of cases are also closed without dissemination for lack of suspicion.

Table 13.

Analysis Process in 2016—Number of Working Days Between Reception and Dissemination of a Case

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166. Although most of the disseminated cases lead to successful prosecutions, the number of FIU spontaneous disseminations is very low, especially when compared to the large volume of reports the FIU is receiving. Although the quality is good, leading to a vast majority of success in prosecution cases, the FIU does not disseminate enough cases to the PGR.

167. In relation to TF, the FIU has analyzed and disseminated few TF suspicious cases. However, after investigations were carried out, none of those cases resulted in TF prosecutions. Twelve of the fifty individuals are still being monitored by the civil intelligence agency for further intelligence gathering, two of which are also being investigated by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The authorities have determined that none of these subjects have met the criteria for designation under UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1373. The seven persons referred to competent authorities were investigated and had their cases reclassified as ML cases in relation to trafficking of persons by organized crime since no terrorism or TF evidence was found.

Table 14.

FIU TF Cases

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Cooperation and Exchange of Information/Financial Intelligence

168. The FIU and other competent authorities cooperate, coordinate, and exchange financial information to a great extent. Access to financial information is appreciated by PGR and SAT, but has resulted in the launch of few ML investigations. The vast majority of ML investigations and prosecutions have been triggered by the FIU spontaneous disseminations.

169. The FIU has signed several agreements with different domestic authorities to encourage an efficient collaboration and exchange of information. The FIU has evolved from having 10 cooperation agreements signed in 2010 to 24 in 2016. As a result of the coordination between the FIU and the PGR, from 2010 the vast majority of requests for prosecution made by the FIU have resulted in the launching of an investigation. In addition, there are cooperation mechanisms for generating strategic intelligence related to ML, as well as terrorism and its financing. As indicated above, the PGR and SAT have controlled access to the FIU database.

170. The FIU works with other national authorities in the execution of its powers, giving opinions on AML/CFT regarding the subjects with whom authorities such as Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos and Comisión Nacional de Seguridad have a connection. The FIU also issues opinions on AML/CFT for the INE. Similarly, the FIU, through the audit services of SHCP, is subject to a process intended to test computer systems, the network or web application and find vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit.

171. The cooperation agreements signed with the competent authorities seek to ensure the appropriate use of information, data, documents, or images to be shared in the execution of their AML/CFT-related powers. FIU employees are bound as public officials to full secrecy and discretion and could be subject to administrative and criminal responsibilities in case of violation.

172. As indicated above, the FIU and PGR cooperation is sometimes undermined by the regular use of FIU power to block accounts. The FIU disseminates the vast majority of its cases to PGR for prosecution. It also disseminates hundreds of intelligence notes to other agencies. Some of these cases are developed in coordination and cooperation with other agencies, including LEAs. In these cases, the investigations benefit from the analysis of different authorities. Nevertheless, the FIU could consider sending more cases to LEAs for further investigation at an earlier stage rather than holding up the cases for further analysis. In some instances, disseminating cases to LEAs and/or SAT (tax evasion) will allow better gathering of evidence before the prosecution phase. This will also reduce some of the pressure from the FIU that is required to collect additional information and conducting analysis based on PGR requests.

173. Although the coordination and exchange of information is efficient at the federal level, it is less so at the state and community levels. For instance, a state prosecutor or state LEAs cannot access the information with FIs directly and need to request it from the FIU. The FIU must first file a complaint in order for an ML prosecution to be brought forward. This could put pressure on the FIU and delay the process of launching prosecutions. The exchange of financial intelligence is not timely enough between state/community and federal levels. Impediments and ineffectiveness are mostly related to the required FIU authorization to prosecute when the financial information is collected from reporting entities, and the overreliance of PGR and LEAs on the FIU to collect the information rather than accessing financial information including CDD using their own powers.

Overall Conclusions on Immediate Outcome 6

174. Overall, Mexico has achieved a moderate level of effectiveness for IO.6.

D. Immediate Outcome 7 (ML Investigation and Prosecution)

ML Identification and Investigation

175. Until relatively recently, the PGR did not rank the identification and investigation of ML as one of its key priorities. However, it has taken a number of steps38 in recent years to remedy this situation, the most significant of which was the creation of specialized units. Nonetheless, ML is not investigated and prosecuted in a proactive and systematic fashion; instead, a reactive, case-by-case approach is favored, notwithstanding the fact that some high-profile investigations have recently been conducted. Mexico still lacks the institutional and operational instruments necessary to identify and investigate ML cases. There are various shortcomings in the way in which ML cases are identified and very rarely are parallel financial investigations conducted. Before the PGR can bring a prosecution for ML committed through the financial system, the FIU must first file a complaint in accordance with the last paragraph of Article 400 bis Federal Civil Code (CCF). This step is a procedural requirement which must be complied with in order for an ML prosecution to be brought. This could delay the prosecution process and undermine the PGR’s powers. The significant level of corruption affecting LEAs, in particular at state level, undermines their capacity to investigate and prosecute serious offenses. Lastly, the implementation of the adversarial system poses an additional challenge to the PGR with respect to the investigation of ML.

176. There are two specialized units within the PGR with competence to investigate and prosecute ML. The first is the UEIORPIFAM which is part of the SEIDO. In 2015, this unit’s budget was Mex$60,514,325 (US$2,990,714.10), and it had a staff of 100. The second specialized unit is the UEAF, established in July 2013, which forms part of the PGR and is tasked with conducting financial and accounting analyzes of ML transactions as well as ML investigations. The UEAF, as well as federal prosecutors, have the authority to conduct financial investigations in cases where the offense was not perpetrated by an organized crime group. In practice, it is impossible to ascertain the number of investigations in which the UEAF has participated since its creation, as the figures provided by the Mexican authorities vary wildly. In 2015, its budget stood at Mex$23,765,675 (US$1,174,706), and it had a staff of 111. The relationship between the UEAF and the UEIORPIFAM remains unclear. In practical terms, it seems that there is some cooperation on a case-by-case basis (Denim, Sonora, and Juarez cases) between the UEAF and UEIORPIFAM.

177. As regards specialized training on the investigation and prosecution of ML, the information provided by the Mexican authorities indicates that between 2012 and 2017, a total of 25 ML training initiatives were organized, some in cooperation with other countries such as the U.S., France, and Spain. Since 2016, training activities, especially for UEAF staff, have focused on the implementation of the adversarial system, not specifically on ML. As illustrated by the Informe de la Auditoría Superior de la Federación (2016 Annual Report of the Federal Audit Office),39 one of the main shortcomings in the investigation and prosecution of ML is the lack of training. This report specifically recommends that an analysis be conducted of the PGR’s training needs and that a capacity-building program be developed which incorporates regular updates and specialization.

178. UEAF and UEIORPIFAM operate at federal level, but do not have an equivalent at state level. In addition, at the federal level, despite the existence of the specialized units in question, the PGR’s other units are not precluded from conducting investigations into ML deriving from predicate offenses. The multiplicity of units responsible for the investigation of ML gives rise to difficulties in terms of coordination and ensuring a harmonized approach, thereby undermining their effectiveness. Moreover, the non-specialized units do not, by their very nature, have the same depth of expertise as the specialized units, with the result that their investigation capacity is not on a par with the latter. In view of the results achieved by the specialized units, especially the UEIORPIFAM, in terms of number of investigations initiated, prosecutions brought, and convictions secured (as we will see below), the financial, human resources, and training allocated to them do not appear to be sufficient.

179. As regards the identification of ML cases, despite there being a standard operating procedure for OC investigations (established in the action protocol entitled “Integration Procedures for Preliminary Inquiries in Organized Crime,” updated on November 10, 2011) and a mandatory internal procedure for ML, neither of them lays down the criteria describing when an ML investigation should be initiated. The mandatory internal procedure only lists the different investigation measures to be taken in the course of an investigation that has already been opened. Furthermore, there is no appropriate protocol40 for the Federal Police which identifies the circumstances under which an ML investigation should be initiated where a preliminary inquiry has begun into a predicate offense, and there are reasonable grounds to believe that that offense has generated illicit proceeds. The lack of such a protocol has resulted in a very low number of ML investigations deriving from predicate offenses.

180. As Table 15 below demonstrates, the PGR accords far more priority to the investigation of predicate offenses and scant attention is paid to ML. Based on the information provided by the Mexican authorities, where there are grounds to believe that a predicate offense has been perpetrated, the PGR will initiate an investigation and will prosecute both offenses together. The figures, however, tell a different story. Table 15 shows that there is an enormous difference between, on the one hand, the number of preliminary investigations into corruption, offenses against the federal tax code and offenses perpetrated by OCGs and, on the other, those initiated for ML offenses. It can be inferred that when the competent unit initiates an investigation into corruption or OC, the UEIORPIFAM or UEAF very rarely opens a parallel ML investigation. This suggests a possible lack of coordination between these units or even that the units in question are not aware of the predicate investigation.

Table 15.

Preliminary Investigations Initiated at Federal Level

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One comment must be made on the figures for drug trafficking: various sets of statistics purporting to relate to preliminary investigations initiated into drug trafficking were provided but differ drastically from one set to the next. In view of the unreliable nature of these figures, they could not be usefully considered and were omitted from the above table.

181. The PGR (see Table 16) appears to identify most ML cases from information sent by different national authorities (such as customs or the Federal Police) and foreign authorities (almost entirely with U.S. agencies, e.g., DEA/ICE), and, to a lesser extent from FIU disseminations. The FIU’s role in the identification of ML cases has increased in recent years.

Table 16.

Comparative Table Showing the Origin of ML Investigations

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The authorities did not identify the origin of the other remaining investigations.

182. In common with the identification of ML cases, the prioritization of ML cases also suffers from a lack of clear criteria. It is not possible to ascertain whether priority is given to ML investigations over other investigations, to complex over simple cases, or to domestic over foreign predicate offenses.

183. As regards the actual conduct of ML investigations, it was not possible to determine how the different specialized units coordinate their efforts internally within SEIDO (no examples were provided), how the PGR coordinates work at the federal and state level, or how it coordinates with other authorities such as the customs and tax authorities in the investigation of ML offenses, if at all.

184. The table below clearly shows that between 2010 and 2014, the number of prosecutions (consignaciones) was very low compared with the number of investigations initiated (averiguaciones previas) (25 percent). The figures reveal a high degree of ineffectiveness either in the way in which investigations are initiated (investigations opened without sufficient reasonable grounds) or in the way in which they are conducted (e.g., deficiencies in investigation methodology or in the financial investigation, overly long procedures, or lack of internal coordination at the federal and state level).

Table 17.

Figures on ML Investigations and Prosecutions 1/

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One comment must be made on these figures: since the different sets of figures provided for the number of investigations initiated in 2015 and 2016 were significantly different, they could not be usefully considered and were excluded from the table.

185. The investigation cycle used by the Mexican authorities does not permit any conclusions to be drawn as to how long investigations usually last before a case is brought to trial. Nor is it possible to ascertain the time required for specific individual investigation measures such as (i) identifying the holders of bank accounts; (ii) obtaining information from public registries; or (iii) gathering information on BO where legal persons are under investigation. In addition, the only special investigative technique that seems to be used in the investigation of ML is wiretapping. No specific examples were provided of cases in which undercover agents or controlled deliveries were used. The deficiencies noted in connection with R.31, i.e., lack of regulation of controlled deliveries, have a negative impact on effectiveness in the investigation of complex cases.

Implementation of the Adversarial System

One of the main challenges at present for the AML/CFT criminal justice system arises from the changes made to criminal procedure to implement the switchover from the inquisitorial system to the adversarial system. The new system1 establishes a set of procedures for trying cases, which allow both the prosecutor and the defense attorney for the accused to present evidence and arguments as equal parties before an impartial and independent court, as well as other changes that further protect the rights of the accused and allow for more timely processing of criminal cases. The reforms were implemented progressively at state level. Transition to this system has required a major effort and substantial resources to convert court facilities, upgrade technology, and train judicial system personnel. Since 2008, the Mexican federal government has spent roughly US$3 billion to support state governments’ efforts to transition to the new system. As of June 18, 2016, the adversarial system had been implemented in all 32 offices of the PGR. Some states transitioned to oral adversarial criminal procedures only for some categories of crimes, while other categories of crimes may still fall under the traditional system. As regards investigations and prosecutions, under the new system, prosecutors will have greater discretion to prioritize their caseloads and may decide not to investigate or prosecute in some cases that appear to have little importance; this will purportedly allow them to direct departmental resources towards other strategic priorities.

The PGR has taken significant steps in order to adapt its institutional structure (with a view to being an autonomous institution), its specialized units, and its operational skills to the challenges posed by this new criminal procedural system, providing specialized training to prosecutors (including on litigation technique). However, the impact of these measures cannot be assessed at present.

1/ “Criminal procedure reform in Mexico 2010–2016. The Final Countdown for Implementation;” special report by Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira and David A. Shirk, Justice in Mexico, University of San Diego, October 2015.

Consistency of ML Investigations and Prosecutions with Threats, Risk Profile and National AML/CFT Policies

186. So far as concerns the consistency of ML investigations and prosecutions with national threats, the main asset-generating activities in Mexico are organized crime,41 drug trafficking, corruption and tax offenses. Organized crime poses a very high ML threat in Mexico. Although the Mexican authorities have gone to great lengths to dismantle the major criminal organizations operating in the country,42 a significant number are still in place due to their capacity to alter their financial structure and adapt to new scenarios. Some OCGs are in a position of such power that they are able to bribe or intimidate the authorities, particularly at state and local levels and, to a lesser extent, at the federal level. The proceeds of drug trafficking and production are still considered to be the principal source of funds for ML in Mexico. However, due to criminal organizations’ ability to diversify, illicit funds also originate from other offenses, such as corruption, extortion, kidnapping, human trafficking, and the theft of oil-based products and minerals. Tax evasion also constitutes an important ML threat and is widespread in Mexico. Due to shortcomings in the justice system, such as the length of proceedings, the low number of investigations and corruption, the conviction rate for this offense is low.

187. Responsibility for the investigation and prosecution of drug trafficking, corruption, and tax offenses lies with three specialized units, two of which are within the PGR. The first is the Specialized Unit for Investigations into Crimes Against Health within SEIDO, which investigates and prosecutes drug trafficking perpetrated by OCGs. The second is the Specialized Prosecution Office on Corruption (FADC), not part of SEIDO, which has responsibility for corruption. It is not clear whether the FADC is able to conduct financial investigations in order to identify and trace assets. However, it seems that the FADC may request assistance from UEAF in order to conduct financial investigations, although no examples were provided of this. The third is the Federal Fiscal Attorney’s Office (Procuraduría Fiscal Federal within the SHCP), which is responsible, inter alia, for conducting investigations and prosecutions relating to tax offenses. As for organized crime, SEIDO within the PGR groups together the different specialized units with competence to investigate offenses committed by OCGs. Faced with these challenges, LEAs and, in particular, the PGR have prioritized their resources in order to tackle OCGs, especially to address the problem of drug trafficking.

188. To that end, as described above (see paragraph 179), a standard operating procedure (“Integration Procedures for Preliminary Inquiries in Organized Crime”) applies to ensure a common approach to the investigation of OCGs. In order to improve the effectiveness of investigations and prosecutions targeting corruption, the PGR has established an ad hoc unit (FADC), which is independent of SEIDO. Both the existence of the standard operating procedure and the specialized units enhance Mexico’s ability to disrupt criminal networks.

189. That being said, with respect to corruption,43 the ratio of prosecutions to investigations is extremely low, as is the ratio of convictions to prosecutions (see table below). Between 2013 and 2016, only 2.9 percent of prosecutions ended in conviction. In addition, a 2015 study on corruption44 indicates that only seven prosecutions/investigations were initiated out of a total of 444 disseminations (1.6 percent) made by the Auditoria Superior de la Federación45 between 1998 and 2012. These figures suggest an extremely low level of effectiveness in action to combat this offense.

Table 18.

Corruption Cases

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190. This trend (low prosecution and conviction rates) is repeated with respect to tax evasion. Over the same period, a total of 6,244 investigations initiated, but only 2,976 prosecutions were brought resulting in only 879 convictions. Also worthy of note is the sharp fall in the number of investigations initiated between 2013 and 2016, as well as in the number of convictions secured, which fell by more than half.

Table 19.

Tax Evasion Cases

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191. Based on the information provided, it cannot be affirmed that, in general terms, ML investigations and prosecutions are consistent with ML threats.

Types of ML Cases Prosecuted and Convicted

192. With respect to the type of ML cases pursued, an analysis of judicial decisions46 (both convictions and acquittals) shows that most ML charges relate to concealment (22 percent), transport (15 percent) and custody (15 percent). Administration (5 percent), transfer (3 percent), and deposit (2 percent) account for a smaller proportion of ML charges. The remaining 38 percent of ML charges were not assigned any specific method of commission. The figures provided in this analysis also show that 62 percent of all ML charges were filed in the context of OC and 42 percent in the context of drug trafficking. In addition, information from the FIU was requested only in 16 percent of the convictions.

193. The Mexican authorities state that ML can be prosecuted as an autonomous offense, irrespective of the existence of a previous conviction for a predicate offense. However, the analysis of these figures suggests that ML is very rarely prosecuted as a standalone offense (see table below).

Table 20.

Types of ML Cases Prosecuted

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194. With respect to convictions, despite the fact that the authorities provided differing sets of figures on multiple occasions, the overall trend is clear: there is a huge disparity between the number of prosecutions and the number of convictions ultimately secured with the result that the conviction rate is extremely low. According to the NRA, the ML conviction rate between 2010 and 2014 fell from 20 percent to 5 percent. Other figures provided by the Mexican authorities,47 set out in Table 21 below, suggest conviction rates of 36 percent, 21 percent, 44 percent, and 13 percent for 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, respectively, based on very few prosecutions. In any event, the figures clearly call in question the effectiveness of prosecutions. In addition, the Mexican authorities themselves also stated that the low conviction rate posed a high risk to the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. As regards legal persons, Mexico has never prosecuted or convicted a legal person of ML due to the fact that, until recently (June 2016), legal persons could not be prosecuted for ML.

Table 21.

Figures on ML Prosecutions and Convictions 1/

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One comment must be made on these figures: it is not clear why the number of convictions is higher than the number of persons convicted between 2013 and 2016.

195. On a final note, it should be noted that the above-mentioned Informe de la Auditoría Superior de la Federación (2016 Annual Report of the Federal Audit Office) concludes that, in 2016, the PGR made no progress in the prosecution of financial crime. In particular, of the 98 prosecutions involving financial crime (which covers ML), only 3 percent resulted in judgment (compared with 22 percent in 2013) while 58 percent were returned to the PGR for completion of the investigation.48

Effectiveness, Proportionality and Dissuasiveness of Sanctions

196. Concerning the effectiveness, proportionality and dissuasiveness of sanctions, Article 400 bis Código Penal Federal (CPF) provides that natural persons are liable to imprisonment of between five and fifteen years and a fine of between 1,000 and 5,000 days at the stipulated daily rate (día multa)49 upon conviction for ML. From the analysis of the convictions on ML, while most fall within the lower end of the penalty scale, based on the nature of the offending, it appears that ML sanctions following a conviction are effective, dissuasive, and proportionate.

Alternative Measures

197. As regards the extent to which criminal justice measures can be applied when a conviction cannot be secured, the Mexican authorities refer to the possibility of applying the discretionary prosecution principle (principio de oportunidad) whereby a prosecutor may decide not to prosecute a case if compensation has been given or guaranteed to the victim. However, the very relevance of this principle is questionable since it covers the situation where the prosecutor decides not to proceed, not where a conviction cannot be secured. In addition, there are no cases to illustrate the practical application of this principle in ML investigations.

Overall Conclusions on Immediate Outcome 7

198. Mexico has achieved a low level of effectiveness for IO.7.

E. Immediate Outcome 8 (Confiscation)

199. Mexico has an appropriate legal framework to support both criminal and civil (non-criminal based) proceedings to confiscate property and POC. Property and proceeds seized, abandoned, and confiscated are managed by the Public Sector Assets Management and Disposal Service (SAE). Since the last assessment, the volume of seized and confiscated assets has slightly increased; however, these efforts fall short and are not commensurate with Mexico’s risk profile.

Confiscation of Proceeds, Instrumentalities and Property of Equivalent Value as a Policy Objective

200. Confiscation of criminal POC, instrumentalities, and property of equivalent value is not being pursued as a policy objective. Recently, following the completion of the NRA, the High Level Groups approved seven policies, including one for “establishing protocols regarding the initiation of parallel investigations related to ML, in particular when the original investigation is related to the predicate offenses that have more impact and generate the highest amounts of illicit proceeds according to the NRA.” It is expected that this policy will have a positive impact on the volume of confiscations; however, it is too early to determine how much of an effect it is having.

201. The PGR, who is assisted by Federal Police, has not given priority to parallel financial investigations to trace assets. No information on the application of confiscation of property of equivalent value was provided.

202. Mexico has various tools—both criminal and administrative—to seize and freeze criminal proceeds and instrumentalities subject to confiscation. In terms of criminal seizures, as indicated under IO.7, the PGR has not developed a strategy to prioritize investigations in order to follow the money, and take actions to locate and restrain illegal assets that might be subject to confiscation.

203. Most of the ML investigations are triggered by the FIU and are not the result of parallel financial investigations, which means that the authorities are not proactive in tracing illegal assets generated by investigation of predicate offenses. This is mainly due to a lack of capacity and expertise to conduct financial investigations by the competent authorities (see IO.7).

204. As explained in IO.7, ML investigations are pursued by the UEIORPIFAM within SEIDO and the UEAF. In the case of the UEIORPIFAM, the main focus has been OC, in particular activities related to drug trafficking.

205. The number of convictions decreased between 2013 and 2016 (see IO.7). Only a few of the convictions resulted in confiscation. The authorities provided some 35 successful cases, of which only three resulted in confiscation. The low volume of confiscation is mostly due to the reluctance of the judiciary to confiscate where there is weak evidence on whether the seized assets can be associated to the conviction.

206. The PGR has seized US$1.3 billion, pursuant to 119 ML investigations. However, there has been only US$934,965.40 confiscated in relation to ML so far. This clearly indicates that there is a low number of confiscations relating to ML. These limited results are mainly due to deficiencies identified under IO.7 (e.g., deficiencies in investigation methodology, overly long judicial procedures, and lack of internal coordination).

207. The abandonment lies in that the competent authority performs a seizure and subsequently, over time, the rightful owner fails to make the claim conducive to his/her right. The volume of abandoned assets is slightly higher. However, the ratio of assets recovered from seized abandonments is generally low (US$7,943,369.62 which is only 0.61 percent of overall assets seized). This is mainly due to the fact that there are few persons that claim abandoned property which result in the loss of right in rem, and consequently, it is resolved that the assured property will be applied in benefit for the state.

208. In December 2014, the FIU initiated the administrative freezing/blocking of accounts held by FIs of listed persons (i.e., the BPL), who have been identified by competent authorities for suspicion of TF, ML, or related offenses. The BPL is designed to be a temporary measure to prevent capital flight and allow sufficient time for the application of provisional measures by the PGR. Although freezing actions are periodically challenged, assets typically remain frozen while the investigations are ongoing. The regular use of such measures which is focused mainly on bank accounts may tip off the listed persons and lead to the liquidation and flight of other potential illegal assets as the PGR does not appear to be proactively pursuing following the FIU freezing actions.

209. According to the FIU, some 2,056 accounts at FIs have been frozen, of which 2,020 were bank accounts. Thus far, the designations on the BLP have mostly been related to drug trafficking, corruption, OCG, and tax crimes.

Table 22.

BPL and Frozen Assets by FIs

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210. According to the table above 1,447 natural and legal persons have been designated and approximately U.S.$175 million has been frozen. The FIU has sent to the PGR 166 requests for prosecution after blocking accounts over last three years and the PGR has pursued only four prosecutions. The FIU has also worked with the U.S. OFAC that resulted in the listing of 98 persons.

Table 23.

Amount of Assets Seized by PGR Based on the BPL System

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211. According to the FIU, US$63.4 million have been seized by the PGR. No information was provided on whether the freezing of accounts by the FIU have facilitated final confiscations (or abandonments/forfeiture).

212. Civil asset forfeiture was introduced in 2008; however, it has not been used actively. Some authorities assert that is mainly due to restrictions in the scope of application to only certain offenses (ML offenses are not included). However, other authorities have indicated that it may be due to the lack of capacity of prosecutors. Nevertheless, the authorities indicated that they have been preparing amendments to the Constitution to expand the scope of the assets forfeiture to include ML.50

213. The SAE manages seized asset via criminal processes and civil forfeiture. The authorities indicated difficulties to effectively manage seized assets owing to the lack of authority to sell seized assets whose value may deteriorate prior to a final confiscation order. The authorities have indicated that a protocol regarding the sale of such assets has been recently approved.

Confiscations of Proceeds from Foreign and Domestic Predicates, and Proceeds Located Abroad

214. Confiscation of proceeds from foreign and domestic predicates, and proceeds located abroad is achieved to only a limited extent. As explained in IO.7, ML investigations are pursued by UEIORPIFAM within SEIDO and the UEAF. In the case of UEIORPIFAM, the main focus has been OC, in particular activities related to drug trafficking. UEIORPIFAM provided information on ML seizures, confiscations, and abandonments (see below).

215. The UEAF provided statistics of seizures for predicate offenses and ML offenses investigations.

Table 24.

ML and Predicate Offenses Seizures—UEAF

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Cash and estimated values of assets were provided in Mexican pesos—Mex$(US$1 = 18.51 approx.).

216. The UEAF has seized US$71,739,979.84 approximately. However, only has been possible the confiscation of Mex$1,890,000.00 (approximately US$102,106.97) derived from only one case in 2016 (confiscation was granted in 2017), indicating the difficulties of the authorities to secure confiscations.

217. The UEAF requested the confiscation of cash derived from on case in 2016, for a total of Mex$1,890,000, which was granted in 2017.

218. In addition, the different units of the PGR provided statistics of seizures of cash and physical property:

219. As per Table 25, several PGR units seized approximately 40,000 physical assets (e.g., aircraft, real estate, vehicles) and only has confiscated 2,473 number of assets (as per table below). However, no information was provided related to the value of those confiscations. From the data provided, it is clear that the number of confiscations is very low when compared with the seized assets. From US$1.35 billion of assets seized, only approximately US$14.5 million have been finally deprived. In addition, no assessment can be made on which types of crimes the authorities are focusing in order to secure confiscations.

Table 25.

Seizures by Different PGR Units

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Data provided in different currencies (Mex$, US$, euro). The total figures are only expressed in Mex$ (US$1 = 18.51 approx.)

Vehicles includes cars, chips

Others include: artwork, furniture, jewels, objects, perceivable goods

Table 26.

Physical Assets Confiscated

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