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Panama and Money Laundering

The Financial Action Group of Latin America recognizes the efforts that are being made to classify evasion as a criminal offense, but once again points out that the main threat is the inflow of financial flows linked to illicit activities committed abroad.

Monday, February 5, 2018

From the report "Mutual Evaluation of Panama - January 2018": 

Executive Summary

This report provides a summary of the existing AML / CFT measures in the Republic of Panama (hereinafter referred to as Panama) at the date of the on-site visit carried out on May 15 to 26, 2017.  It analyzes the level of compliance with the 40 FATF Recommendations and the level of effectiveness of the AML / CFT system in Panama, and offers recommendations on how the system can be strengthened.   

Main findings 
• Panama has carried out an NRA, in which it has identified that its main risks in terms of LA derives from illicit financial flows from abroad that end up in Panama associated with drug trafficking, other crimes related to organized crime, contraband and crimes related to foreign trade; In regards to internal threats, the crimes of drug trafficking, corruption, financial crimes and crimes against intellectual and industrial property, including contraband, were identified as the main ones.

See full report (in Spanish).

 

https://www.centralamericadata.com/en/article/main/Panama_and_Money_Laundering

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New agreement will speed Andorra linked corruption probes

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Kenia Porcell
Post Views: 104
 
Investigations of high profile Panamabribery and money laundering cases linked to banks in Andorra will be made smoother and faster by a collaboration agreement signed between the two countries eliminating cumbersome bureaucratic, delays.

The judicial collaboration protocol to speed up procedures in gaining information was signed on Friday, June  15. by Panama’s Attorney General Kenia Porcell and her Andorra, counterpart Alfons Alberca

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Jimmy Papadimitriu

It will help especially in cases of international corruption. like the dynamics of the Banca Privada d’Andorra (BPA) as operator of the laundering of the bribes paid by Odebrecht to Panamanian politicians. Names like former Minister of the Presidency  JimmyyDemetrius “Jimmy” Papadimitriu and the sons of Ricardo Martinelli have figured in earlier probes.

“With the signing of this protocol, the criminal investigations that are substantiated both in Andorra and in Panama and the development of cooperation is strengthened and favored between the public ministries of both countries, for the prosecution of crimes, in general, and of transnational organized crime, in particular, “reads a press release by the judicial institution of Andorra.

Until now, if Panama wanted to request documentation and information from Andorra on assets or bank funds in that country, it had to be managed through diplomatic channels or through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; a procedure that delayed the identification of banking information.

Direct talks
Now if judicial investigators require information they, may do so directly, without the intermediation of other institutions.

The agreement also provides for study visits, as well as urgent processing of the demands of legal cooperation.

“Thanks to the agreement reached between the public ministries of the Principality of Andorra and the Nation of the Republic of Panama, both institutions strengthen their ties in the fight against crime and, especially, in financial matters and corruption” said the Andorra Prosecutor’s Office

The preliminary investigation of the Pernambuco case, as it is known in Andorra to the open investigation after analysis of bank accounts and suspicious transactions carried out through BPA and linked to the Odebrecht corruption scheme, began in April 2017.

The agreement reached between Panama and Andorra will give a boost to the research on the participation of former employees and former BPA senior managers in the bribery scheme from the Brazilian construction company, but will also take advantage of other cases that have relationship with financial crimes in other banks in Andorra.

“Odebrecht is a reality, but there are also other open cases, where there is already assistance that Andorra has requested and on which Panama is working or in which, it has already delivered the information, “Porcell explained in statements to Radio Television of Andorra

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/new-agreement-will-speed-andorra-linked-corruption-probes

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“Frustrated” Panama still on French tax haven blacklist

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Isabel Saint Malo
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Panama is upset by the “lack of coherence” of France, which keeps the country on its blacklist of tax havens despite its “efforts”,  said Vice president and Chancellor, Isabel de Saint Malo in an interview with the French news agency AFP.

“I came to Paris to express the great surprise of Panama for still being on a list to which we do not belong,” she said at the end of a visit to Paris, where she met with advisers of French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée. Palace.

Paris included Panama on its blacklist of tax havens after the Panama Papers scandal in 2016 and  Panama had threatened to retaliate against France.

The European Commission had also included Panama on its blacklist a year ago but withdrew it a month later.

Panama began at the end of September to exchange financial information under parameters required by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“There is no coherence” on the part of France, said Saint-Malo. “The historical ties between Panama and France are very strong and really we would like France, like many other countries, to recognize the country’s efforts,” she said.

The Panama Papers are “a matter of the past,” said Saint Malo, who during her Paris visit went  to the  OECD headquarters, and  presented “the efforts “made by our country in the fight against tax evasion.”

The institution “told us that Panama today is a country that meets 100% with international standards,” she said, recalling that Panama now exchanges information with 31 countries, including France.

Hence the “surprise” that his country is still on the French blacklist.  In the Elysée Palace, the French president’s advisers spoke with her about “some technical issues” that Paris asks to be improved.

“Those technical issues do not sustain that Panama remains on a list,” she said.

“The Panamanian financial system was harshly criticized in 2016 after the scandal of the Panama Papers, a leak of documents that revealed how hundreds of offshore companies were created by a Panamanian firm, some of which served world personalities to evade taxes and assist money laundering.

The OECD then accused Panama of being “the last great redoubt” to hide off-shore fortunes.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/frustrated-panama-still-on-french-tax-haven-blacklist

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Panama rejects inclusion in the EC list and calls for consultations to its ambassador

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 14:14

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Panama rejected on Wednesday its "unfair" inclusion in a new list of the European Commission (EC) of third countries with deficiencies in their strategies against money laundering and terrorist financing, and called for consultations to its ambassador to the European Union, Miguel Verzbolovskis.

The government of President Juan Carlos Varela said in a statement that "it will continue its efforts to establish a communication channel to clarify the concerns of the Commission", whose proposed list "must be submitted to the European Parliament for approval within a period of one month extendable".

Panama hopes that this dialogue "values the commitment and dedication" of the country "in the adaptation of its legislation and financial platform to prevent money laundering and the financing of illegal acts", but while it is possible to establish "the Panamanian Government will call for consultations to the Representative of Panama to the European Union, Ambassador Miguel Verzbolovskis", the official letter added.

"Panama urges the European Commission to reconsider the unjust action taken against a country with a clear commitment in the fight against money laundering and the fight against the financing of terrorism", said the Panamanian Executive in its official letter.

The European Commission (EC) on Wednesday included Panama in its new list of third countries with deficiencies in their strategies against money laundering and terrorist financing, along with 22 other countries and jurisdictions around the world.

"Being on this list means that we have concluded that doing financial and banking transactions with these countries could expose the European financial system to high risks of money laundering and terrorist financing", said European Justice Commissioner, Vera Jourová, who insisted that it is a "warning" and not "a system of sanctions", she explained at a press conference.

Accompany Panama in the list Afghanistan, American Samoa, Bahamas, Botswana, North Korea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guam, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, the US Virgin Islands and Yemen.

The Panamanian Government stressed that it considers that "the process carried out by this European body in the preparation of the list has been opaque, since no interaction with Panama was generated as the third country subject to analysis".

It argued that despite the "enormous efforts from his Embassy and Representation before the European Union in Brussels and official visits of high authorities, Panama was not given the opportunity to inform or respond on the actions taken in legislation and practice, to address any deficiency perceived by the Commission".

The inclusion in the EC list "is not very consistent with the close bilateral and commercial relationship that Panama maintains with this regional bloc and with the great advance of the nation in strengthening and modernizing its financial platform and international services", indicated the Panamanian Executive.

This platform is currently governed "by robust legislation and adequate to the highest standards, recognized by institutions such as the Financial Action Group of Latin America (GAFILAT) and the Global Forum of Transparency and Exchange of Information of the OECD", affirmed the Government from Panama.

The Panamanian Government convened a press conference on Wednesday, headed by Vice President and Foreign Minister Isabel De Saint Malo, to refer to the decision of the European Commission.

 

https://www.panamatoday.com/panama/panama-rejects-inclusion-ec-list-and-calls-consultations-its-ambassador-9239

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EU fires laundering warning shot at Panama

 
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Posted 13/02/2019
 
The European Commission (EC) has included Panama in a list of 23 countries with deficiencies in strategies against money laundering and terrorist financing.

"Being on this list means that we have concluded that making financial and banking transactions with these countries could expose the European financial system to high risks of money laundering and terrorist financing," said  European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourová at a Wednesday press conference.

She said  inclusion is a "warning" and not "a system of sanctions".

Besides Panama, the list of tax havens includes: Afghanistan, American Samoa, Bahamas, Botswana, North Korea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guam, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka , Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, the US Virgin Islands and Yemen.

The Commission explained that the purpose of the list was "to protect the EU financial system" by anticipating the risks, since from now on banks and other entities will be required to apply stricter checks on operations with these countries.

Among the criteria used by Brussels to prepare the list of non-collaborating countries are the "strategic deficiencies" in the fight against money laundering or financing, the legal prosecution of these activities, the competency of the national authorities or the exchange of information about the true identity of business owners and funds.

"Knowing who are the true owners of companies and funds is a key priority, but unfortunately, there are still many countries that do not share this crucial information with us," said the chief executive of the Community.

The document must still be approved by the Member States and the European Parliament before being published in the Official Journal of the EU.

Jourová pointed out that this is a "sensitive" issue among European capitals, but she expressed confidence that the governments of the EU bloc will give their approval to the list, but some member states expressed doubts about the inclusion of some countries in the list.

"It's a natural reaction to something new," she said,

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/eu-fires-laundering-warning-shot-at-panama

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Panama Does Not Want to Be a "High Risk" Country

The Varela administration rejects the European Commission's proposal to include the country in a list of high-risk countries with strategic deficiencies in the struggle against money laundering and terrorism.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Considering that the publication issued today by the European Commission must be submitted to the European Parliament for approval within one month, which may be extended, the Government of Panama announced that it will continue its efforts to establish a communication channel to clarify the Commission's concerns.

You may be interested in "Panama: Strengthen Penalties Against Evaders"

From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release:

February 13, 2019. The Government of the Republic of Panama categorically rejects the European Commission's proposal to include Panama in a list of high-risk third country jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies in its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regime.

Considering that the publication issued today by the European Commission must be submitted to the European Parliament for approval within a renewable period of one month, the Government of Panama will continue its efforts to establish a communication channel to clarify the Commission's concerns. Thus, the country reiterates the call to establish a frank and continuous dialogue, which values Panama's commitment and dedication in the adequacy of its legislation and financial platform, to prevent money laundering and the financing of illegal acts.

Read full press release (In Spanish).

 

https://www.centralamericadata.com/en/article/main/Panama_Does_Not_Want_to_Be_a_High_Risk_Country

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The Cost of Being a "High Risk" Country

The inclusion of Panama in the list of high-risk countries with strategic deficiencies in the battle against money laundering and terrorism would increase the operating costs of foreign banks in the country.

Monday, February 25, 2019

A few days ago, the European Commission included the Central American country in a list of 23 nations classified as territories with lax measures and controls against money laundering and financing of terrorism.

See "Panama Does Not Want to Be a 'High Risk' Country'"

Risk rating agency Moody's prepared a report called "Panama´s inclusion on Commission watchlist for lax controls in credit negative for its offshore Banks", which was published on February 15, 2019.

According to Elcapitalfinanciero.com, the rating agency's report explains that "... financial and banking institutions will need to increase controls over the transactions performed with their clients, allowing them to identify suspicious transactions."

The article adds that "... The inclusion of Panama in the new EU black list will increase the scrutiny of European correspondent banks in dealing with banks in the Panamanian square, generating additional operating costs. In addition, some correspondents could reduce or terminate their relations with the CBI of Panama."

 

https://www.centralamericadata.com/en/article/main/The_Cost_of_Being_a_High_Risk_Country

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EU nixes black list naming Panama

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Posted 07/03/2019
 
The 28  member countries of that make up the  European Union (EU) have rejected the 'black' list drawn up by the European Commission that included Panama on the grounds that its financial system ran a "high risk" of money laundering.  

On Thursday, March 7   a joint statement said:"The Council can not support the current proposal, which was not established with a transparent and solid process that actively encourages the affected countries to take decisive measures while respecting the right to be heard."

The decision, taken unanimously on Wednesday at the diplomatic level requires the community executive to present a new proposal.  

The Brussels institutions regretted the rejection claiming it has been gestated "without any debate at a political level".  

In the Commission’s opinion, the list was configured after a "deep analysis" based on a "solid" methodology and with the "highest level" of transparency.  

The Commission's spokesperson, Margaritis Schinas, said that Europe "will continue working" to fight against money laundering.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/eu-nixes-black-list-naming-panama

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Panama is on the European Union's Grey List

In the new version of the European Union's list of non-cooperating countries in fiscal matters, the Central American country no longer appears.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

In December 2017, Panama was included by the Council of Ministers of Economy and Finance of the European Union in Annex II of the List of non-cooperative jurisdictions in fiscal matters.

You may be interested in "Panama Does Not Want to Be a "High Risk" Country"

From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release:

Panama welcomes the decision of the Council of Ministers of Economy and Finance of the European Union (ECOFIN) to definitively remove the Republic of Panama from Annex II of the List of non-cooperating jurisdictions in tax matters.

In December 2017, the European Union included Panama in this discriminatory list, because of a lack of understanding of the country's tax regimes. In January 2018, after technical and diplomatic efforts, this regional bloc removed Panama from that classification, moving on to an observation or monitoring list, which recognized that the country was dedicated to completing the necessary legislative reforms to adapt the preferential regimes considered harmful.

Read full press release (In Spanish).

 

https://www.centralamericadata.com/en/article/main/Panama_is_on_the_European_Unions_Grey_List

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French Minister arrives for talks on Panama tax haven image

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Posted 19/08/2019

The French minister of public accounts, Gérald Darmanin,  was in Panama on Monday to talk with financial officials   as  the country continues to struggle with its image as a tax haven enhanced by the “Panama Papers” activities of local law firm Mossack Fonseca, now the subject of a soon to be released movie “Laundromat”.

France seeks to improve cooperation and exchange of tax information with which it considers a tax haven. "For France and the European Union, international financial transparency is a fundamental requirement," Darmanin said on his Twitter account. The purpose of the visit is to "improve cooperation between France and Panama in fiscal matters" and "find solutions to fight effectively" against fraud and tax evasion, according to a statement from the French government.

 France withdrew Panama from its list of tax havens in 2012 after an agreement against tax evasion, but included it again in 2016 with the international Panama Papers scandal, which revealed how numerous companies  were created by a Panamanian law Some of the opaque companies served for  business, sports and entertainment personalities from around the world to evade taxes and launder capital. The 22 states affected by this scandal managed to recover about $1.2 billion of which $136 million are French, according to the media research consortium that revealed the case. France and Panama have agreements to avoid double taxation, but France is not satisfied with the exchange of tax information of its citizens that could be evading taxes.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/french-minister-arrives-for-talks-on-panama-tax-haven-image

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Panama “must try harder” says OECD report

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Posted 12/11/2019

Panama only  “partially complied” with the system of exchange of financial information during the period between on April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2018. between countries says the OECD’s  Global Forum on Transparency which develops rules on tax and tax law to eradicate tax havens

"During the review period, Panama received 302 requests for information and sent 20. Panama provided only partial information to 46% of the requests it received. Panama must ensure that it can fully respond to requests for tax information in a timely manner," he says. The OECD

The last analysis of this type was in 2016, before the country signed the Mutual Administrative Assistance Agreement in Fiscal Matters in Paris.

Through this agreement, Panama has access to the country-by-country reports of the multinational groups to which the subsidiaries operating in the isthmus belong.

In addition, it established the obligation to the country to make accessible the reports presented in Panama by the local business conglomerates to other tax jurisdictions of the countries with which it has agreements.

In this regard, the OECD recognizes that the country has provided a robust legal framework for the fight against illicit financial flows.

"Panama has taken steps to address the recommendations, including the strengthening of controls, the elimination of inactive entities and the requirement that all entities maintain accounting records," said OECD experts.

However, they stress that "some important challenges to ensure the availability of accounting information and information on real beneficiaries" remain pending.

"Panama must also strengthen its supervision programs to ensure that this type of information remains in practice," they conclude.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/panama-must-try-harder-says-oecd-report

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Panama stays on French tax haven list

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Posted 07/01/2020

France has updated its list of tax havens including the removal of Guatemala, but Panama remains.

"Despite the dialogue, the state of fiscal cooperation with Panama has not allowed sufficient progress to justify a withdrawal of that state from the list," said the French Ministry of Economy in a statement on Tuesday, January 7.

The list includes 13 countries or territories. Among them are Panama, Anguilla, Bahamas, Fiji, Guam, US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Oman, American Samoa and Samoa, the Seychelles, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vanuatu.

According to the statement, Guatemala leaves the list thanks to the ratification of the mutual administrative assistance convention on fiscal matters of the Council of Europe and the OECD.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/panama-stays-on-french-tax-haven-list

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Panama returns to EU tax haven black list

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Posted 13/02/2020

Just two weeks after  Brexit The 27 member states of the European Union (EU) have added Panama and the British Caribbean territory of the Cayman Islands to their blacklist of tax havens which was originally created following the Panama Papers scandal in 2017.

Panama had been removed from the EU blacklist in 2018 after committing to reforms but returns because it did not meet certain criteria  

The 27 ambassadors of the countries of the European Union made the decision on Wednesday, February 12  to blacklist the two territories, as well as the archipelagos of Seychelles and Palau,. There are currently eight countries or jurisdictions on the EU blacklist: American Samoa, Fiji, Guam, Oman, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, the US Virgin Islands and Vanuatu.

The Cayman Islands are the first British overseas territory to join the EU blacklist. "The main reason is that they did not carry out the necessary reforms," promised to the European Union before the end of 2019, one of the two sources said. In particular, the Cayman Islands is criticized for having legislation that facilitates the establishment of extraterritorial structures.

 EU finance ministers had first drawn up their blacklist in December 2017 after several scandals, such as the Panama Papers and LuxLeaks, to fight against tax evasion of multinationals and large fortunes.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/panama-returns-to-eu-tax-haven-black-list

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Panama is never really going to fix this thing. Some may say they want to, but culturally it ain’t gonna happen.

Edited by BD
Misspelling correction
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European Union confirms Panama’s return to tax haven blacklist

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Posted 18/02/2020

Panama moved back to the European Union’s blacklist of tax havens on Tuesday, February 18  with the unanimous endorsement of the 27  ministers of Economy and Finance of (Ecofin).

The decision  to include Panama in the so-called “list of non-cooperative jurisdictions in fiscal matters”, due to the fact that the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Tax Information of The OECD has not yet given it the status of a  country "largely compliant."

Panama shares its position as a non-cooperative country in fiscal matters with 11 other countries: Cayman Islands, Palau, Seychelles, American Samoa, Cayman Islands, Fiji, Guam, Oman, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, the US Virgin Islands, and Vanuatu.

The revision of the Code of Conduct group, , concluded that Panama had not complied, within the agreed period, with fiscal reforms to those that had committed themselves to the EU. On Tuesday, the collegiate body of all the finance ministers of the EU countries made the final decision.

 “The elaboration of the list of non-cooperative countries and territories for tax purposes is based on an exhaustive process of evaluation, monitoring and dialogue with some seventy-three countries and territories. Since we launched this initiative, forty-nine countries and territories have applied the fiscal reforms necessary to meet the EU criteria. It is an unquestionable success, but it is also a work that is ongoing, a dynamic process in which we continually review the methodology, ”said Zdravko Marić, Vice President and Finance Minister of Croatia.

In December 2017, the EU included Panama in the list of countries outside the fiscal transparency standards because it did not comply with the issue of fiscal governance, considering that it had “a harmful preferential tax regime”.

The EU therefore considers that there are still regulatory and legislative deficiencies in the Panamanian system. From the organism of the European bloc they indicate that the process of listing is continuous and dynamic so that the list will continue to be reviewed and updated periodically in the coming years, taking into account the “evolution of the deadlines in which countries or territories must comply its commitments and the evolution of the inclusion criteria that the EU uses to prepare the list ”.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/world/european-union-confirms-panamas-return-to-tax-haven-blacklist-1

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Panama heading to EU money laundering risk

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Posted 05/05/2020

The European Commission will add Panama, the Bahamas and Mauritius to its list of countries that present financial risks due to failures in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, according to the draft of a document seen by . Reuters news agency

The document, which will be formally released on Thursday, May 7, expands an existing sanctioning list but does not include Saudi Arabia and the territories of the United States, which had been added to a previous list, before being filed after foreign pressure.

The countries on the list "pose significant threats to the financial system of the European Union," says the draft of the document alluded to by Reuters , which is still subject to change.

In June 2019, Panama again entered the gray list of the Financial Action Group (FATF) due to the lack of effectiveness in the fight against money laundering.

Despite the progress made in recent years in strengthening the legislative framework on the prevention of money laundering, the lack of effectiveness in combating this crime led Panama to the list of the agency.

The Commission is also about to list Barbados, Botswana, Cambodia, Ghana, Jamaica, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, and Zimbabwe.

The draft decision brings the current list of 16 to 22 jurisdictions to be closely monitored, although the highest scrutiny will only apply from October, according to the document, a lenient approach the Commission said was due to disruptions caused by the current coronavirus pandemic.

The countries that were already on the list are Afghanistan, Iraq, Vanuatu, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Uganda, Trinidad and Tobago, Iran, and North Korea.

Everyone except North Korea has pledged to change its rules to pursue money laundering and terrorist financing.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/panama-heading-to-eu-money-laundering-risk

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The EU. money laundering and judicial wrist slaps

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Supreme court lightweight approach to heavy hitters

Posted 08/05/2020

Amid the pandemic, the European Union (EU) surprises us with its decision to include Panama in a list of jurisdictions that do not cooperate in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. The EU demonstrates its lack of sensitivity to the crisis we are facing and the need to have the financial system in the best capacity to contribute to economic recovery. The European decision was not unanimous, since Spain, a country that knows us and invests significantly here, opposed it. Panama has approved substantial changes in its legislation and in its corporate regime, and in the institutions in charge of supervising the economic sectors. At the same time, figures such as the compliance officer and the risk assessment have been deployed, as part of the day to day of Panamanian financial activity. It is true that the country needs to demonstrate achievements in judicial matters, with exemplary sentences and severe economic sanctions against these crimes. However, it is no less true that the EU remains selective in its lists. Panama must fight against this injustice, which ignores reality LA PRENSA, May 8

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/the-eu-money-laundering-and-judicial-wrist-slaps

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