* Banco BTG Pactual SA's founder and former CEO Andre Esteves was granted approval by Brazil's central bank to recover his controlling stake in the bank, which was suspended in 2016 upon his arrest on corruption allegations, Reuters reported. Esteves' stake recovery is still subject to regulatory approval in other countries.
* Argentina's government confirmed the appointment of Eduardo Hecker as president of state-run Banco de la Nación Argentina, replacing Javier González Fraga, and also announced that Matías Tombolini would assume the role of vice president, news portal Infobae reported, citing a resolution in the country's official gazette.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* Costa Rica's prosecutor for economic crimes conducted a series of raids as part of a probe into an alleged fraud linked to the bankruptcy of manufacturing company Corporación Yanber SA, including seizing documents from premises of Banco BAC San José SA, El Financiero reported. The bank confirmed the probe but did not give more details, though newspaper La Nación said the house of the bank's former general manager, Gerardo Corrales, had also been raided.
* Guatemalan rural bank Banco de Desarrollo Rural SA received a US$60 million credit line from the Honduras-based Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica to finance small and medium-sized companies and promote financial inclusion, Prensa Libre reported.
* The International Monetary Fund completed a first review of Honduras' performance in line with an economic program for about $309.2 million, and a two-year stand-by arrangement under a credit facility to the country. Following the review, authorities will be able to tap about $144.7 million in resources, though they intend to treat the funds as precautionary money.
* Moody's said that a proposal from Brazil's central bank to broaden access of existing ATMs to customers of financial technology startups, digital banks, and small and midsize banks is credit positive for newcomers, as it will let those smaller entities serve more customers who are seeking lower-cost banking services. Moody's expects cash withdrawals will remain high given the informal economy and low financial inclusion in the country, but also noted that the use of cards and newer payment services is rapidly expanding.
* Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes will work with legislative leaders to bring the country's tax system up to date, such as with a possible tax for online transactions, but he did not elaborate, Reuters reported. Guedes also said the CPMF tax on financial transactions will not be revived.
* Brazilian insurance company Wiz Soluções e Corretagem de Seguros SA said it had bought a 76% stake in the Barigui Corretora de Seguros insurance brokerage, creating a new vehicle insurance unit called Wiz Conseg, Valor Econômico reported.
* Brazil's CVM securities commission has agreed to close procedures against Banco Santander (Brasil) SA, Santander Securities and five former bank executives over irregularities related to the rules governing private equity funds in exchange for payment of a fine of 4.8 million reais, Valor Econômico reported.
* Bolivian prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for former President Evo Morales on charges of sedition and terrorism, Reuters reported. Bolivia's interim government has accused Morales of fomenting unrest even in exile. Morales has been given asylum in Argentina.
* Colombian credit financial technology firm Finsocial SAS, focused on lending to public sector teachers and pensioners, is considering seeking approval to operate as a bank or regulated financing company by 2020, CEO Santiago Botero told La República in an interview. The plan was broached after Botero said the company aims to boost its credit portfolio to 700 billion Colombian pesos next year following Morgan Stanley's $125 million investment.
* Argentine central bank chief Miguel Pesce said the government will continue meeting debt payments as it tries negotiating with the country's creditors, Bloomberg News reported. Pesce also said that a bill sent to Congress requesting for emergency powers, including permission for government to sell US$4.6 billion in notes to the central bank to allow it to pay down debt in dollars, "is an extreme resource, but it's essential during this negotiation period."
* Argentine Economy Minister Martín Guzmán told La Nación in an interview that it will be difficult for the government to start debt negotiations with the International Monetary Fund if Congress rejects a package of measures aimed at boosting economic growth and improving public finances. He said the bill was crucial to debt renegotiations because it showed "a commitment to balance the accounts and have a path that is consistent with economic recovery."
* Scotiabank Chile is planning to undertake a US$330 million capital increase through the issuance of 735,294,118 new shares, La Tercera reported. The bank's board will call a shareholder meeting for Jan. 6, 2020 to submit the plan to a vote.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
* Middle East & Africa: S&P cuts Lebanese banks; Dubai Islamic Bank shareholders OKs Noor Bank takeover
Helen Popper contributed to this article.
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