Another Living in Panama Experience

I thought I would tell you about an experience a friend of mine has recently had buying a car in David.

After shopping for several months she found a car meeting her needs and started the process. It was priced at $8,000.

She spent a week trying to get the money transferred from her account in the U.S. to the Panamanian account. When the U.S. bank realized it was an internet request from Panama to the U.S. bank to transfer money to a Panama account the bank froze the account as a fraud case.

When she called, she was told she needed to appear at the bank with two IDs to reactivate the account. Obviously that was not possible. Her son lived in the U.S. and was finally able to convince the bank it was a valid transfer and reactivate the account.

He tried a couple times to make the transfer and each time the transfer didn’t take. The bank would not disclose why the transfer did not go through. After a week, it was determined that either the name on the receiving account or account number might not be exactly correct.

She decided to take a different approach. She had friends in Panama that were willing to give her a cashers check on their Panama account made out to the seller. She gave them a personal check on her U.S. bank for the same amount. They were willing to wait the 20 days for the deposit to clear.

However, when they tried to deposit the check, they learned that their Panama bank would not take a U.S. check for larger than $3,000.

It is becoming extremely clear that banks in Panama really don’t want to have anything to do with U.S. clients or even transactions from the U.S.

24 thoughts on “Another Living in Panama Experience

  1. The only bank that do not take US checks larger than $3,000 is Banesco (ex HSBC) and it has nothing to do with IRS. Actually they take them but they want you to do some more paper work and charge you more (way more) for it.

  2. The USA’s “Know Your Customer SEC ruling is @ $US3K and not the $10K limit. Scotia Bank doesn’t have an office in Miami?

  3. A Scotia bank in Miami doesn’t help if you want to deposit a check in David. I suspect, the solution will be a wire transfer within the US.

  4. I make monthly transfers to Ecuador from my U.S. bank and on occasion, the amounts exceed the $3,000.00 trigger amount used by the Treasury Department (it’s not an IRS reg) to monitor possible money laundering activity. Amounts exceeding the trigger level require the party requesting the transfer to provide detailed contact information regarding (address, phone number, etc.) of the party receiving the funds, the reason for the transfer, and so on. It may be that I’ve been doing this over time to regular recipients in Ecuador (and mostly regular amounts, I should say), but I’ve never had any problems. I should think that if the friend can provide the info required by Treasury, that the transfer should go through – and thinking about it, the friend’s bank should have told her about these procedures….

  5. not only Panama..I tried to wire $4000 to my son in Sweden to buy tickets for them to visit Texas….he never got the money , which was sent by internet….I finally had to retrieve the money (took 3 weeks) , and wire it from a bank…it seems harder to do these things now than before

  6. James Sinclair (aka Mr. Gold) has been advising to Get Out of the System for nearly a decade.

    Depositors are now subject to bail-in laws.

  7. … Forgot to mention that your friend has to provide info (name, address, Swift or ABA code) on a U.S. bank that functions as the corresponding/affiliating bank for the local Panama bank as well…

  8. I’ve had very good experiences with Scotiabank in Boquete. A couple of months ago, I wired a large sum in excess of $10,000 to Scotiabank in order to purchase a car. I first contacted the ecommerce security officer over the telephone at my credit union in Texas to let her know I would be submitting an international wire transfer request to purchase a car. (Before I left Texas in 2010, I signed paperwork at the credit union that would allow me to make international wire transfers.) I’m on a first name basis with the ecommerce security officer. I then obtained the wiring instructions from Scotiabank in Panama and gave those to the security officer at my credit union in Texas via their internal secure email. The transaction was processed on the USA side of the house (going through NY City) after 2pm. The funds were available the next morning in my Scotiabank account in Panama before 11am.

    Scotiabank in Boquete has given me excellent customer service during the 3 years I’ve been with them. They charge for cashing a USA check and there is a 15 business day wait for USA checks to clear. I also pay an annual fee to use their debit card. Scotiabank is a business and so that have to charge fees to stay in business.

    Anyway…don’t put all your eggs in one basket (one bank). Get on a first name basis with your bankers and understand their rules by asking.

    I don’t know about tomorrow, but so far I haven’t had any negative banking experiences in Panama.

  9. What you have now is the solution to the govt’s problem of citizens leaving the USSA without paying the exit tax. They use the illegal and unethical “War on Drugs” as an excuse as well. We all know that that excuse is nothing but BS and needs to be terminated.

    There are still ways to get your money out safely. The best way is other countries who don’t abide by the USSA laws or FACTR.

    Say thank you to the past criminal presidents, Clinton, Bush x2 and of course the current Terrorist in Chief obummer!!! May they all rot in prison for many years for doing this to a once great and free Country.

  10. Mike, the problem at Scotia was not in making a wire transfer. It was their not accepting a $8,000 check. Their limit was $3,000, which I do not think is solely their problem.

    As I said in the post, banking in Panama has gotten more difficult. This is something newcomers will have to get used to in moving to Panama.

    Personally, I have closed all of my Panama accounts.

  11. Dear Don Ray is not only Panama don’t fell discriminate, or your friend banks all over the world are very impossible with money, that happen to the little people, the rich and the millionaires don’t pay penalties the minute they walk in the bank they are as if their presence was royalty. At least this lady have good friends and they help her, changing the system impossible, here is worse bankers are stingy, no good people that’s why they are rich extend a loan to a person here to buy a car, for example my case single divorce mother, I was injured when working for a half-way house since, then working is hard and is not employment for mental health anyway that’s what i have credentials counseling trauma victims of Domestic Violence and sexual abuse. Anyhow, I need a car even id cheap, I haven’t be able to get a loan from any bank regardless because my source of income is child support, and they consider that not an income. I am in pain 24/7 no doctors accept the government medical card,etc. Tell you friend that I totally understand her, i have to walk everywhere, and the pain is worse. Again thanks to her friends, because there are no friends, nobody trust no one, a woman like me that walk out of an abusive man, is stigmatize for all, banks, even same women, your friend have solve her problem i can’t even get a pro-Bono attorney to help me to make pay me what he owes me and this is America and i am USA citizen,

    God Bless you, Feliz navidad! My friend. kindly Cecilia

  12. Hi Don Ray – have knowledge of this situation and can tell you that ScotiaBank is not the villain in this piece – the difficulties were brought about by MultiBank – a private Panamanian bank. It would not accept a US based check in excess of $3,000 (per month). This is not in keeping with previous actions/policies – we can vouch for that from personal experience, having dealt with MB for over 10 years. BTW – Banesco is not the new/old HSBC; Banistmo is.

  13. Hi. DSD. I understand that Scotia is not the problem. I think it is universal now and transferring money greater than $3K must be the new limit. I didn’t mention the ban’s name in the post because I was certain that it had nothing to do with it. The whole point of the post is to tell newcomers to Panama about a situation they may not be acquainted with.

  14. A money wire is the answer. I have done one for 25,000 dollars, and one for 45,000 dollars to Global Bank with no problems. You only need to get the routing address from your bank here. I am a member of Scotia and they told me that their would be no problem their either with a wire transfer. I never was much for using checks. I have been burnt from Gringos a few times from personal checks myself. I wont take one. The last one was for 2,500 dollars.

  15. Thanks for the update. Was unaware of the universality of the $3,000 limit on US-based checks. The young lady at the bank told me it had always been their policy, which we know from experience was not the case. The post-FATCA world is not pretty, is it?

  16. I transfer from my Virginia bank to Global each month and usually for more than $3k but less than 10K. I fax my bank with the wire transfer details and an explanation of what the funds are needed for…living expenses, medical costs, house maintenance, education of students, solar installation etc. I then call the Virginian bank and confirm the fax details. The bank has me speak with two of its staff who recognize my voice and include a short social chat which is a form of further identification. The Virginian bank is “old fashioned” and a delight. “Hello Malcolm. How you doing down there in Panama then.” I enjoy the experience which is rarity in today’s banking procedures. If the lady is still having trouble, maybe I could help.

  17. Hi All: Early this month I deposited a check from a U.S. Bank into my account at Global Bank for an amount close to $10,000. It was received and is awaiting the 15 day waiting period. All that was required was for the Global Bank Manager to initial it prior to deposit.
    One time in 1999 I wanted to buy a used car from a Doctor who lived in Concepcion. I wrote out a U.S. check for $7,500. She wouldn’t accept the check from a U,S. Bank. I went to a nearby bank’s ATM machine and took out that amount in $500. increments. Gave her the amount all in cash. Those were the days.
    @Don Ray: since you closed out all of your Panamanian bank accounts, what if something comes up like a medical emergency and, say, you need $50,000,for an immediate heart bypass operation. How would you get your hands on that amount quickly? Or for that matter any emergency needing a very large amount of cash?
    I would hope that your Panamanian wife would have that amount in her bank account/

  18. First, my wife is from Costa Rica and not Panama.

    Second, a Panama bank would not help. There is no way I would put $50,000 in a Panamanian bank.

    Third, I do carry health insurance.

  19. For a non-resident with no Panama bank account, what is the best way to transfer money for the purchase of a car (say from a private seller)?

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