The city of Panama was founded on August 15, 1519, by Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias Dávila. The city was the starting point for expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire in Peru. It was a stopover point on one of the most important trade routes in the American continent, leading to the fairs of Nombre de Dios and Portobelo, through which passed most of the gold and silver that Spain took from the Americas.
Petroleum Minister José Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos had power of attorney for an offshore company in 2002, when he became petroleum minister after previously being employed for a number of years as an executive at Sonangol,[439] according to the leaked documents. He denies wrongdoing.[441] ICIJ partner Le Monde says it has seen documents that show he was the proxyholder for Medea Investments Limited, founded in Niue in 2001, and moved to Samoa five years later. The company, which issued only bearer bonds, had a capitalization of $1 million, and closed in 2009.[439] He has never previously been accused of corruption.[442]
According to Ouestaf the documents make it clear that while Crei investigators were interested in the funds in Pouye's Monaco account, they did not know that their source was an offshore account he created himself.[20] The two contracts prove that there was in fact a relationship between the defendants and DP World. Investigator Papa Alboury Ndao told the court in February[when?] that he had discovered two payments of $13 million each from a subsidiary of DP World FZE to a Singapore bank account belonging to Karim Wade. However the bank in Singapore refused to cooperate and Ndao was forced to drop that line of inquiry.[20]
Following the May publication of this report, the National Assembly passed a law making it illegal to report company ownership[331] and another giving former presidents and first ladies lifelong legal immunity.[332] Khadija Ismayilova, the Radio Free Europe reporter on the 2012 investigation was subjected to escalating legal and public harassment. She was threatened and eventually arrested. She is currently serving a 7.5 year sentence for tax evasion and abuse of power.[333]
Spanish authorities had little control over much of the territory of Panama. Large sections managed to resist conquest and missionization until very late in the colonial era. Because of this, indigenous people of the area were often referred to as "indios de guerra" (war Indians) who resisted Spanish attempts to conquer them or missionize them. However, Panama was enormously important to Spain strategically because it was the easiest way to transship silver mined in Peru to Europe. Silver cargoes were landed at Panama and then taken overland to Portobello or Nombre de Dios on the Caribbean side of the isthmus for further shipment.
Since 1914 the 51-mile- (82-km-) long Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, has afforded a long-sought shortcut for shipping and assures the country’s standing as one of the most strategic transportation hubs of the world. The canal also secures Panama’s ongoing role in international affairs and world commerce. The United States relinquished jurisdiction of the Panama Canal on December 31, 1999, marking an unprecedented shift in Panamanian society. For the first time in nearly a century as an independent nation, Panama controlled the entirety of its national territory.

The Panama Papers are an unprecedented leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The records were obtained from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ then shared them with a large network of international partners, including the Guardian and the BBC.


More than 500 banks registered nearly 15,600 shell companies with Mossack Fonseca, with HSBC and its affiliates accounting for more than 2,300 of the total. Dexia and J. Safra Sarasin of Luxembourg, Credit Suisse from the Channel Islands and the Swiss UBS each requested at least 500 offshore companies for their clients.[107] An HSBC spokesman said, "The allegations are historical, in some cases dating back 20 years, predating our significant, well-publicized reforms implemented over the last few years."[111]
Azerbaijan International Mineral Resources Operating Company Ltd (AIMROC) and its consortium partners spent nearly US$230 million to open a mine and build a refinery in the western Azerbaijani village of Chovdar. AIMROC possibly produced US$30 million in gold before suddenly disappearing without making payroll in May 2014.[325] Mine employees officially remain on vacation and under Azerbaijani law full-time employees cannot seek work elsewhere even though they have not been paid for two years.[326]
In 2015, Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) was contacted by an anonymous source calling him or herself "John Doe," who offered to leak the documents. Doe did not demand any financial compensation in return, according to the SZ. The total volume of data comes to about 2.76 terabytes, making it the biggest data leak in history. The data pertains to the period spanning from the 1970s to the spring of 2016.
As the Spanish American wars of independence were heating up all across Latin America, Panama City was preparing for independence; however, their plans were accelerated by the unilateral Grito de La Villa de Los Santos (Cry From the Town of Saints), issued on November 10, 1821, by the residents of Azuero without backing from Panama City to declare their separation from the Spanish Empire. In both Veraguas and the capital this act was met with disdain, although on differing levels. To Veraguas, it was the ultimate act of treason, while to the capital, it was seen as inefficient and irregular, and furthermore forced them to accelerate their plans.

On October 22, 2016, in the midst of a state visit to Germany, Varela told journalist Jenny Pérez, of Deutsche Welle that there had been "progress" in transparency and many agreements to exchange tax information, and that tax evasion was a global problem. Asked about his ties with Ramón Fonseca Mora, managing partner of the firm Mossack Fonseca, he acknowledged that he is a friend.[145]
Azerbaijan International Mineral Resources Operating Company Ltd (AIMROC) and its consortium partners spent nearly US$230 million to open a mine and build a refinery in the western Azerbaijani village of Chovdar. AIMROC possibly produced US$30 million in gold before suddenly disappearing without making payroll in May 2014.[325] Mine employees officially remain on vacation and under Azerbaijani law full-time employees cannot seek work elsewhere even though they have not been paid for two years.[326]
Panama was inhabited by indigenous tribes before Spanish colonists arrived in the 16th century. It broke away from Spain in 1821 and joined the Republic of Gran Colombia, a union of Nueva Granada, Ecuador, and Venezuela. After Gran Colombia dissolved in 1831, Panama and Nueva Granada eventually became the Republic of Colombia. With the backing of the United States, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903, allowing the construction of the Panama Canal to be completed by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. The 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties led to the transfer of the Canal from the United States to Panama on December 31, 1999.[9]
The Ministry of Economy and Finance of Panama, Dulcidio de la Guardia, formerly an offshore specialist at Mossack Fonseca competitor Morgan & Morgan, said the legal but often "murky" niche of establishing offshore accounts, firms and trusts make up "less than half a percentage point" of Panama's GDP. He appeared to suggest that publication of the papers was an attack on Panama because of the high level of economic growth that the country had shown.[137]

The earliest discovered artifacts of indigenous peoples in Panama include Paleo-Indian projectile points. Later central Panama was home to some of the first pottery-making in the Americas, for example the cultures at Monagrillo, which date back to 2500–1700 BC. These evolved into significant populations best known through their spectacular burials (dating to c. 500–900 AD) at the Monagrillo archaeological site, and their beautiful Gran Coclé style polychrome pottery. The monumental monolithic sculptures at the Barriles (Chiriqui) site are also important traces of these ancient isthmian cultures.
More than thirty Costa Rican law firms are mentioned in the Panama Papers as referring clients to Mossack Fonseca, resulting in the creation of more than 360 shell companies. in particular Gonzalo Fajardo & Asociados, founded by former Finance Ministry official and later Economy Minister Gonzalo Fajardo Salas, and over nearly two decades helped Costa Rican companies set up 82 offshore corporations in tax havens, according to DataBaseAR.[403]
In 1671, the privateer Henry Morgan, licensed by the English government, sacked and burned the city of Panama – the second most important city in the Spanish New World at the time. In 1717 the viceroyalty of New Granada (northern South America) was created in response to other Europeans trying to take Spanish territory in the Caribbean region. The Isthmus of Panama was placed under its jurisdiction. However, the remoteness of New Granada's capital, Santa Fe de Bogotá (the modern capital of Colombia) proved a greater obstacle than the Spanish crown anticipated as the authority of New Granada was contested by the seniority, closer proximity, and previous ties to the viceroyalty of Lima and even by Panama's own initiative. This uneasy relationship between Panama and Bogotá would persist for centuries.

Tourism is one of the most important economic activities in terms of revenue generation. This sector of the economy has seen a great deal of growth since the transfer of the Panama Canal Zone at the end of the twentieth century. The number of hotel rooms increased by more than ten-fold, from 1,400 in 1997 to more than 15,000 in 2013, while the number of annual visitors increased from 457,000 in 1999 to 1.4 million in 2011.[18] The city's hotel occupancy rate has always been relatively high, reaching the second highest for any city outside the United States in 2008, after Perth, Australia, and followed by Dubai.[19] However, hotel occupancy rates have dropped since 2009, probably due to the opening of many new luxury hotels.[20] Several international hotel chains, such as Le Méridien, Radisson, and RIU, have opened or plan to open new hotels in the city,[21] along with those previously operating under Marriott, Sheraton, InterContinental, and other foreign and local brands. The Trump Organization built the Trump Ocean Club, its first investment in Latin America,[22] in 2006 and it is the tallest building in the city. In 2018 it was renamed The Bahia Grand Panama following falling occupancy rates associated with the declining brand value of the Trump name.[23] Hilton Worldwide opened a Hilton Garden Inn in El Cangrejo, and in 2013, The Panamera, the second Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Latin America.[24]
Panama's roads, traffic and transportation systems are generally safe, though night driving is difficult and in many cases, restricted by local authorities. This usually occurs in informal settlements.[62] Traffic in Panama moves on the right, and Panamanian law requires that drivers and passengers wear seat belts.[62] Highways are generally well-developed for a Latin American country.
In 2015, Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) was contacted by an anonymous source calling him or herself "John Doe," who offered to leak the documents. Doe did not demand any financial compensation in return, according to the SZ. The total volume of data comes to about 2.76 terabytes, making it the biggest data leak in history. The data pertains to the period spanning from the 1970s to the spring of 2016.
Also listed are real estate developer and DLF CEO Kushal Pal Singh, Sameer Gehlaut of the Indiabulls group, and Gautam Adani's elder brother Vinod Adani.[353][354] Shares of both companies fell following the release of the papers, as well as those of Apollo Tyres, which had also been mentioned.[355] DLF said it had invested in existing overseas companies in compliance with the LRS Scheme set up in 2004 and reported this to the Indian tax agency.[356] An Apollo spokesman said that the family members of Chairman Onkar Kanwar who had been reported as owning offshore companies did not live in India and had complied with the law where they resided.[356] Gehlaut said he had paid full taxes and made full disclosures.[356]
Leaked documents show that daughters Leyla and Arzu Aliyeva both hold shares in Exaltation Limited, incorporated in April 2015 for "holding UK property". Child & Child, a London law firm that registered it and obtained nominee directors for it though the Jersey branch of Mossack, claimed in doing so that the women had no political connections.[30][334]
"This is a unique opportunity to test the effectiveness of leaktivism", said Micah White, co-founder of Occupy, "... the Panama Papers are being dissected via an unprecedented collaboration between hundreds of highly credible international journalists who have been working secretly for a year. This is the global professionalization of leaktivism. The days of WikiLeaks amateurism are over."[79]
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