Thursday, January 28, 2010

Panama: from black sheep to white list?

Panama, an especially murky tax haven, seems to think it is on track to be removed from the OECD's so-called "white list", as this Le Figaro story notes, quoting its new Economy Minister Alberto Vallarino.

"My government's priority, since starting work last July, is to put an end to this false reputation as a tax haven."

Yes, Mr. Vallarino, they all say that.

So you'll be getting rid of bearer shares, will you, where the principal owner is unknown? You'll be stamping out the crime-inducing practice of allowing Panama Foundations owning Panama Corporations, for unbreakable secrecy? You'll be wiping out the use of Panama shelf companies, which let you falsely backdate your ownership? There will be no more "Panama IBC and Bank Accounts?" You will put details of trusts and company accounts, and beneficial ownership, on public record, and prohibit company redomiciliation?

Curiously, in the Le Figaro interview, no mention is made of any of these things. What it says, instead, is that Panama will seek to get onto the OECD's whitewash, sorry, white list, by signing a mere 12 tax information exchange agreements with other jurisdictions -- agreements that are based on the appallingly lax "on request" standard of information exchange which is slightly, but not much more, better than nothing. As one top international tax expert put it, the OECD's information exchange / blacklist process has been a "sad joke."

Just as bad, Valarrino praises the whitewash Panama has received from the myopic Financial Action Task Force (FATF):

"We are very regarded by the FATF for our actions against money laundering. We have absolutely nothing to hide."

We do admire Mr. Vallarino -- though only for his chutzpah.


Anonymous dejavuinvestment said...

Panama has to be open to the world, to people that wants to invest in a safe place and Panama is the country...............

2:05 pm  

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