According to a statement distributed by email, the Royal Bank of Canada Wealth Management will close its Uruguay branch on the 31st of October and the 41 employees at the branch will be relocated to other offices of the Canadian bank. The bank has reported that its closure in Uruguay “is part of a strategic review” of its business in Latin America.
RBC has commenced to notify its customers of this decision, offering to transfer their funds to other branches of the bank either in Europe or North America.
Two months ago, RBC facilities in Uruguay suffered a raid at the request of Argentine Judge Norberto Oyarbide amid an investigation for alleged tax offenses. It so happens that the Argentine judge is in charge of a megacause in which he is investigating the transfer of dozens of footballers in money laundering maneuvers worth millions of dollars. However, RBC sources told the El Observador newspaper in Montevideo that the closedown of its business in this country is not related to this incident.
"The criminal investigation involving the Uruguay branch is a separate issue and RBC will continue to work with the authorities to resolve it," a bank source informed the newspaper.
This raid has caused great concern amongst the international customers of the bank in Uruguay, 70% of who are Argentineans with, on average, about $600,000 in accounts in Uruguay.
The executive director of the Uruguyan Association of Private Banks and former BCU president, Julio deBrun, told the newspaper El País that the RBC raid caused "concern" and warned that the episode is “a bad sign” because it affects "the image of the bank and of the country.”