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Tuesday, September 02 2014 @ 10:09 PM EDT

MasterCard Cancelled Pronto Cash's Licence

Money Matters
Financiera Pronto Cash
Financiera Pronto Cash
The international credit card firm cancelled the issuer license held by the financial company Pronto Cash, after the Attorney General's Office opened an investigation for the alleged illegal taking of deposits. On 12 April 2012, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry revoked Pronto Cash's license to operate as a financial company and imposed a fine of $10,000 dollars, after learning the news the company had a product on the market that worked as a debit card without a banking license. MasterCard told Panama America that Pronto Cash is no longer authorized to issue products with their brand. "With this, now one can no longer use the cards that had been issued by this entity, nor will they be permitted to issue new cards," said Angélica Gutiérrez David, the spokeswoman for MasterCard's Latin America region.

The offices of Pronto Cash are still active in the Credicorp Bank building, but without providing the service. People answering telephones for the Pronto Cash financial company communicate to their customers that the company is restructuring and they are not currently issuing MasterCard cards.

Meanwhile, the Special Prosecutor for Financial Crimes reported they are doing due diligence to investigate alleged illegalities in the operations of Pronto Cash. "We are awaiting answers to a range of information we request," the judicial source said.

The prosecutor opened the investigation of this financial company after the Superintendency of Banks issued a report on its operations. The regulator also issued a warning through its website saying Pronto Cash was never authorized to take deposits.

In an investigation conducted by the Panama America newspaper in the month of March 2012, it was determined that the financial company Pronto Cash maintained a system of prepaid cards under the MasterCard brand, whose requirements were minimal and the deposits were unlimited. The so-called "financial card" could be recharged via the Internet or via phone, and operates similar to a debit card.

However, on its website, Pronto Cash explains their side of the case, saying they never operated as a bank, and the card they issued did have a deposit limit of $7,500 dollars. They also say they have received adverse publicity from a news media outlet, referring to the Panama America newspaper. The president of the financial company Pronto Cash, Tatiana Nazarova, also says her company was in order and had the approval of the entities responsible for regulating the financial sector.

Nazarova is married to the American Monte Morris Friesner, who was sentenced in the United States for wire fraud and various crimes related to the unlawful use of interstate commerce. However the citizen of Russian nationality has said on several occasions her husband does not have any relation to her business.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MICI) began an audit of the company on 19 March 2012, after hearing the company emitted a "financial card" that operates similar to a debit card. MICI's investigation confirmed Pronto Cash used the image of a financial company to raise funds through the services of issuing and recharging cards, an action that is only regulated by the Superintendency of Banks of Panama.

What Gutiérrez said about the Pronto Cash case - In May 2012 MasterCard revoked the license to issue products with their brand from the finance company Pronto Cash. With this, the cards the company had issued can no longer be used, nor will they be permitted to issue new cards.

Blandon and Young: Friesner's Local Connection - The law firm Blandon & Young, owned by National Assembly Deputy Jose Isabel Blandon and the lawyer Herbert Young, was the one responsible for registering (the company) and getting permits in 2006 for the operation of the financial company ProntoCash, now under the scrutiny of the bodies that regulate the financial system in Panama. The president of Pronto Cash, Tatiana Nazarova, is married to the American Monte Morris Friesner, accused in the United States of 20 alleged electronic fraud and other crimes, according to the Department of Justice in that country. Morris Friesner was released in June 1998.

Blandon & Young was responsible for managing the approvals before the authorities for the Nazarova-Friesner family business. However, the links between the company and the law firm is not limited to this: Young's wife, Rita Moreno de Young - currently working at National Bank of Panama - served as the President of two other companies of the Nazarova-Friesner family in Panama. They were the Swiss Hannover real estate company, and Isabel Investment Corp. (Panama America)

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