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LatinNews Daily - 05 February 2021

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In brief: Nicaragua’s private sector rejects reforms to consumer rights law

* Nicaragua’s leading private sector lobby, Cosep, has expressed concern regarding new reforms approved by the national assembly to consumer rights legislation. Among other things, the changes allow for banks and providers of financial services to be sanctioned for denying consumers access to their services. The changes are widely considered an attempt to protect those sanctioned by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for human rights violations and corruption. These include First Lady Rosario Murillo and other members of President Daniel Ortega’s inner circle. While the government maintains the reforms are intended to protect consumer rights, Cosep warned it deals a blow to the autonomy of banks, could facilitate money laundering, and is “putting the financial situation in the worst situation of the last 30 years”. It adds that this could result in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklisting Nicaragua, which is currently on the grey list of countries the FATF considers non-cooperative in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. Cosep’s concerns have been shared by the US-Nicaraguan Chamber of Commerce (Amcham), the Asociación de Bancos Privados de Nicaragua (Asobanp), and the Cámara de Industrias de Nicaragua (Cadin), among others.