Panama congress takes key step toward cleaning up nation's reputation as money laundering hub

Panama is taking a major step in an effort to clean up its reputation as a hub for money laundering.

The nation's congress has approved by a unanimous vote legislation that will toughen supervision of non-financial sectors to prevent illicit proceeds from the sale of narcotics, corruption and terrorism to seep into Panama's booming economy.

Panama last year vowed to boost compliance requirements on everything from lawyers to real estate brokers to ensure its removal from a so-called "gray list" of 19 financial jurisdictions around the world deemed vulnerable to money laundering and terrorism financing. The list is maintained by the Financial Action Task Force, an inter-government body representing 36 of the world's richest nations.

The congressional vote took place Wednesday night.