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Inside Royal Bank of Canada’s Latin Misadventure

Dilemma surrounding RBC’s star Brazilian client highlights regulatory risks of potentially lucrative emerging markets

As Royal Bank of Canada mounted an aggressive campaign to reel in business from Latin America’s growing class of superrich, a Miami-based banker made a big catch:Gilberto Miranda Batista, a former Brazilian senator with a $500 million fortune, three houses, four farms and a Rolls Royce.

While some bankers celebrated, RBC’s compliance department soon raised a warning flag. Worried that Mr. Miranda’s accounts might attract scrutiny from global regulators over potential money laundering, some compliance officers began recommending that the accounts be shut down around 2007, according to people familiar with the episode.

But the Miami banker, Dirceu Magalhaes, successfully argued against axing the prize client, even after Brazilian prosecutors charged Mr. Miranda with corruption in 2012, these people say.

In 2013, Mr. Miranda’s accounts attracted the attention of a U.S. banking regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which that year deemed RBC’s anti-money-laundering controls unsatisfactory, according to people familiar with the matter.

Read more: The Wall Street Journal


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