* Itaú Unibanco Holding SA appointed Carlos Constantini CEO of the bank's U.S. subsidiary, Eduardo Vassimon, the company's wholesale general officer, told Bloomberg News in an interview. Almir Vignoto, the head of Itaú's New York business, will step down in the coming months and serve as a consultant and member of the U.S. board, Vassimon said. Alberto Mulas, Itaú's CEO for Mexico, will leave at the end of December to pursue personal projects. Vassimon also confirmed the appointment of Christian Egan as head of the bank's global markets and treasury business.
* Executives at Brazilian engineering conglomerate Odebrecht have testified that the company provided about 30 million reais of illegal financing to the 2014 re-election campaign of Dilma Rousseff, the country's former president who was impeached earlier in 2016, O Estado de S. Paulo reported. The testimony, if accepted by courts, could result in the ousting of current President Michel Temer, who was Rousseff's running mate in 2014.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* Banco Panamá SA said it plans to launch an offering Dec. 20 for two series of negotiable bonds worth a total of up to $5 million. The bank plans to issue one-year series T bonds worth up to $3.5 million and six-month series U bonds worth up to $1.5 million.
* Banco Nacional de México SA cut its 2017 foreign direct investment estimate for Mexico to $25 billion from $35.8 billion, the Financial Times reported. "The main feature [of 2017] will be uncertainty and therefore weak investment," the bank said in a research note.
* In its annual legal compliance and transparency report, Mexico's central bank said it rejected the majority of requests from financial institutions to impose new commissions or hike existing ones during the last two years, El Economista reported. The central bank rejected 70.4% of all such requests in 2015.
* The commissions charged by Mexican pension fund managers, or Afores, will fall on average to 1.03% in 2017 from 1.06% in 2016, El Economista reported, citing Carlos Ramírez, the head of local pension regulator Consar.
* Consumer credit recovery in Brazil declined 2.2% in November from the previous month and dropped 9.5% from a year earlier, according to data from credit research firm Boa Vista SCPC. In the 11-month aggregate period, however, the index rose 1.5% compared to the same period of 2015.
* Brazil's central bank is expected to hold a press conference Dec. 20 to discuss a government proposal to lower the average annual interest rate on credit cards, which has reached more than 450% amid the country's severe recession, Bloomberg News reported. One congressional deputy has suggested a ceiling of 12% per year on credit card interest rates.
* The rate of bounced checks in Brazil increased to 2.46% of cleared checks in November as higher interest rates and unemployment made it difficult for Brazilians to pay their dues, Reuters reported, citing credit research firm Serasa Experian. In the first 11 months of 2016, the rate of bounced checks was 2.37%.
* Brazil's SD Bank will begin offering and processing digital checks in February 2017 for both individual clients and companies, InfoMoney reported. The digital checks service will be offered via mobile phone application.
* Ilan Goldfajn, the president of Brazil's central bank, recently voiced opposition to a rule requiring credit agencies to notify debtors before including their names in a list of defaulters, Valor Econômico reported. The rule took effect in the state of São Paulo in September 2015, and other states are also considering implementing it. Goldfajn and other critics believe the rule has the potential to increase credit costs.
* Ecuador was struck by a 5.8-magnitude earthquake on Dec. 19, resulting in the deaths of at least two people and injuries to 15 other individuals, Reuters reported. Authorities said the quake also destroyed three hotels while other buildings suffered considerable damage.
* Moody's revised its outlook on Cia. de Seguros y Reaseguros Fortalez SA's A3.bo Bolivian national scale insurance financial strength rating to negative from stable, reflecting a decline in the company's investment returns. The decline contributed to an annualized negative return on capital of 8.4% for the first nine months of 2016.
* Banco de Comercio Exterior de Colombia - BANCOLDEX SA has provided more than 3.2 trillion Colombian pesos of financing to the private sector so far in 2016, La República reported, citing a statement from the bank. The company plans to continue growing its loan portfolio in 2017.
* Ecuador's Congress approved the country's accession to the European Union's free-trade agreement with Colombia and Peru, Gestión reported. The final ratification is expected to be published in Ecuador's official gazette in the coming days.
* Bank of China Ltd. has opened a representative office in Peru to facilitate bilateral trade and support local businesses, El Comercio reported, citing Xiao Lijun, the bank's representative in Peru.
* A delay in the approval of Argentina's capital markets reform bill, which would cut red tape for companies to issue debt in the country while reducing the tax burden on certain closed-end funds, has made the funds less attractive to taxpayers looking to take advantage of a tax amnesty on foreign income repatriated before Dec. 31, El Cronista reported. The bill, which was submitted to Congress in November, is not likely to be passed before the end of 2016, as debate about possible income tax reform has taken priority, local fund managers said.
* In its latest quarterly monetary policy report, Banco Central de Chile lowered its 2017 GDP growth forecast for Chile to between 1.5% and 2.5% from a previous estimate of 1.75% to 2.75%. "For 2017, the lower initial velocity, in a context of higher risks and still markedly pessimistic confidence levels, suggests that activity will take a little longer to achieve near-potential growth rates," the central bank said.
* To help clients cope with rising inflation, banks in Argentina have doubled cash withdrawal limits at ATMs, with the highest limit for premium customers now at 20,000 Argentine pesos, El Cronista reported.
PAN LATIN AMERICA
* International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde has been convicted of negligence, but will not face a fine or jail sentence, Bloomberg News reported. The former French finance minister was found guilty over one count of negligence regarding a huge state payout to businessman Bernard Tapie during her time in office.
* Global financial regulators are moving to clarify anti-money laundering rules to halt a decline in correspondent banking, which is depriving banks in poorer countries of access to key financial services. The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision will publish revised guidance on correspondent banking by mid-2017, and the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force, which targets money laundering, will also set out definitions and best practices, the Financial Stability Board said.
* Several overarching themes will affect international securitization markets in 2017, Moody's said, noting that asset credit quality will continue to weaken in some sectors but will stabilize in most others. Improving economies in Mexico and Argentina will help structured sectors there, while the lagging effects of a recession will somewhat weaken asset-backed securities performance in Brazil.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
* Middle East & Africa: 3 Qatari banks mull a merger; Nigeria buckles up for sukuk drive
* Europe: Lloyds to buy MBNA; Credit Suisse could face up to $7B US penalty
Paula Mejia contributed to this article.
The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 8 a.m. São Paulo time, and scans news sources published in English, Portuguese and Spanish. Some external links may require a subscription.