Argentina's anti-money laundering office, the UIF, has put the brakes on attempts by the government of Santiago del Estero province to make a dollar-denominated cash withdrawal totalling some US$31.9 million.
Officials of the Zamora government reportedly attempted to withdraw the money from the Banco Hipotecario in Santiago del Estero.
They claimed the province urgently needed to pay outstanding wages, among other financial obligations.
The province does not pay its public servants neither in cash nor in dollars.
Officials who were sent to the bank to carry out the transaction reportedly insisted on cash despite bank advice that the cash withdrawal, unlike an electronic transfer, would incur a US$400,000 fee.
The bank then refused to release the funds, prompting the Zamora government to initiate legal action. A Civil and Commercial Judge in the province authorised the transitions and ordered the bank to comply within three days.
However, the Financial Information Unit (UIF), which is responsible for investigating alleged money-laundering, and the Economic Crime and Laundering Ombudsman's Office, blocked the decision with an injunction obtained through Federal Judge María Servini de Cubrini.
The payment remains blocked for 10 days, with the provincial government now required to provide reasonable grounds for its request to withdrawal.