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Mexico Investigates Money Laundering and Ad Reform

Mexico’s government has been presented with several recommendations for preventing money laundering in the last few years. However, according to the former head of Mexico’s Financial Intelligence Unit, Santiago Nieto, it has been difficult to pass any recommendations due to special interest groups, specifically those in the casino industry. Nieto believes casino owners have been instrumental in stalling stronger money laundering barriers from going into effect.

Various colorful currencies displayed on a flat surface with a $1 USD bill on top.

Mexico tackles both money laundering and advertising law reforms.
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Reform rebuffed by casino owners and other groups

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) presented a total of 40 initiatives to Mexico’s senate, geared towards addressing financial crime, between 2018 and 2023. One of them, Number 23, would have assisted in regulating money laundering. This measure, however, was the main one that was not complied with between 2018 to 2022.

For three years, senators Ricardo Monreal, Alejandro Armenta and Daniel Gutiérrez sought to further reform the law related to money laundering via six initiatives. They did this along with help from Minerva Hernández from the National Action Party (PAN). None of the six initiatives were approved by the senate.

Nieto suggests that the reason these measures have not been put into use is that special interest groups backed by notaries, casino owners, jewelers and others have gotten in the way. Thomson Reuters organized an International Congress on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, during which these sectors reacted badly to the initiatives.

Nieto says that these groups prevented Congress from going forward with the reforms. He identified 17 different industries that would be badly affected by the initiatives, if they were to be put into use. All of these groups object because the reform would create added costs for their business.

The costs would be accrued via measures to make their work more transparent, from implementing computer monitoring systems to having a compliance officer check their dealings, and having regular audits.

Nieto agrees that it would add extra cost for these businesses, but argues they should get on board because it would make Mexico a more reputable place for business in general. This could result in attracting investment and increasing trade.

Changes to ad rules in Mexico

Meanwhile in Mexico, additional reforms are underway but this time, to combat the prevalence of sports betting advertisements on television. Deputy Andrés Pintos Caballero has proposed a reform to change the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law by modifying article 243.

The change to article 243 would require sports betting companies to get prior approval in order to run ads. It would also create a rule about when these ads can run. The concept is to make these ads viewable only just before sports games begin, so that minors are not inundated by ads throughout the viewing of a game.

The Radio and Television Commission is currently studying the proposal, which states strongly that sports should be a source of positivity in mental, physical and social well-being for children who participate in them. It states that there should be a differentiation between the images of athletic role-models that can be seen in sports games and the enticement offered by gambling.

All in all, the reform would aim to prevent minors from being influenced by such ads and to keep sports a pure, safe ground for viewers. Mexico is thus one of several LATAM countries which have proposed changes to how betting advertising is regulated. Ecuador is on the cusp of banning all sports betting advertising. Argentina and Chile are also investigating changes to gaming ads.

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Author: James Richardson