From the U.S. Treasury
"In a ceremony at the U.S. Department of the Treasury today, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Panamanian Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs Juan Carlos Varela signed a new tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) between the United States and Panama."
This is being presented as a good thing. But a correspondent to TJN (hat tip: anon), who nosed around the TIEA itself
, sent us this:
"An interesting aspect of the US-Panama TIEA is that Panama is not obliged to provide information if the US could not provide such information in comparable circumstances. It is well known that the US has little ability to determine the beneficial owners of corporations organized in many US states, notably Delaware, Nevada, and Wyoming (Wyoming, like Panama, allows bearer shares).
The TIEA requires Panama to adopt legislation banning bearer shares and giving the Panama government the power to get bank and fiduciary information. But there is no comparable obligation on the US. So Panama will have an easy “out” if the US were to ask for information on beneficial owners."
Looks like another smokescreen. And our correspondent also notes something that we have long been complaining about:
Of course, the TIEA, like the Swiss version, basically requires only exchange on request, with the requesting party having to provide so much information that few requests can be made (to quote myself, “you have to know what you are asking for before you can ask”).
This OECD-styled "on request" arrangement, by appearing to deliver transparency while probably delivering very little or no transparency, will probably do more harm than good.