Panamanian money services company bankrupt with $22m in debt
MIAMI - Financiera Generosa, a Panamanian money services business, owing more than $22 million in bonds and commercial paper, has gone into bankruptcy, and creditors fear that their security, where it actually exists, was grossly overvalued by company officers, giving rise to criminal liability on the part of a number of officers and directors.
Generosa, whose legal name is Finanzas y Créditos del Hogar SA, and which was heavily involved in the finance of commercial buildings, especially hotel construction, was unable to meet its debt service as it came due, particularly its bond issues, and has been forced into bankruptcy.
Money services businesses in Panama are typically involved in finance, unlike those in other countries.
Its president, Jose Luís Ford Hernandez, has been confined to his home and prohibited from leaving the country; criminal charges have been filed against him.
Multiple law suits against the company have been pending for the last four years. Panama's securities regulator, the SMV, posted a notice of the bankruptcy on its website at the end of last week. Institutional creditors, many of whom are holding Generosa obligations in the millions of dollars, are in danger of losing their entire investment.
This scandal, the biggest to hit Panama since the Petaquilla Mining insider trading case, will further reduce the confidence that investors have in Panama's economy, and the ability of its commercial ventures to meet their obligations.
By Kenneth Rijock
Kenneth Rijock is a banking lawyer turned-career money launderer (10 years), turned-compliance officer specialising in enhanced due diligence, and a financial crime consultant who publishes a Financial Crime Blog. The Laundry Man, his autobiography, was published in the UK on 5 July 2012