Panama's politics take place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Panama is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
Panama’s economy continues to grow, outdoing its neighboring countries. Between 2004 and 2013 the average GDP was 8.4%. The forecast is a promising one for Panama in 2018, with a prediction of the economy growing 5.5% and the GDP expects to expand 5.4% in 2019. The yearly income revenue from the Panama Canal just topped $1,650 million in 2017. With money in the government coffers, infrastructure projects sponsored by the government continue to be implemented, making Panama one of the leading countries in Central America in terms of infrastructure with good roads, bridges, parks, and sporting venues.
SZ asked the ICIJ for help because of the amount of data involved. Journalists from 107 media organizations in 80 countries analyzed documents detailing the operations of the law firm.[4] After more than a year of analysis, the first news stories were published on April 3, 2016, along with 150 of the documents themselves.[12] The project represents an important milestone in the use of data journalism software tools and mobile collaboration.
Mossack Fonseca's Hong Kong office was its busiest, says the ICIJ, as Chinese officials and other wealthy figures would carry funds across the border and deposit them there to be channeled to offshore entities.[28] Hong Kong invested HK$4.6 trillion (£360 billion) into the BVI – more than Hong Kong invested in mainland China – and received HK$4.1 trillion (over £300 billion) from the BVI. A further £20 billion or so was placed into the Cayman Islands and Bermuda individually.[339]

The Procuraduría de la Nación announced that it would investigate Mossack Fonseca and the Panama papers.[146] On April 12, the newly formed Second Specialized Prosecutor against Organized Crime raided Mossack Fonseca and searched their Bella Vista office as part of the investigation initiated by the Panama Papers. The Attorney General's office issued a press release following the raid, which lasted 27 hours,[147] stating that the purpose was "to obtain documents relevant to the information published in news articles that establishes the possible use of the law firm in illegal activities".[148] The search ended without measures against the law firm, confirmed prosecutor Javier Caraballo of the Second Prosecutor Against Organized Crime.[149]
The firm won’t discuss specific cases of alleged wrongdoing, citing client confidentiality. But it robustly defends its conduct. Mossack Fonseca says it complies with anti-money-laundering laws and carries out thorough due diligence on all its clients. It says it regrets any misuse of its services and tries actively to prevent it. The firm says it cannot be blamed for failings by intermediaries, who include banks, law firms and accountants.
The journalists on the investigative team found business transactions by many important figures in world politics, sports and art. While many of the transactions were legal, since the data is incomplete, questions remain in many other cases; still others seem to clearly indicate ethical if not legal impropriety. Some disclosures – tax avoidance in very poor countries by very wealthy entities and individuals for example – lead to questions on moral grounds. According to The Namibian for instance, a shell company registered to Beny Steinmetz, Octea, owes more than $700,000 US in property taxes to the city of Koidu in Sierra Leone, and is $150 million in the red, even though its exports were more than twice that in an average month in the 2012–2015 period. Steinmetz himself has personal worth of $6 billion.[18]
Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder and long-time leader of the far-right-wing Front National (FN) and now a member of the European Parliament, already was the subject, along with his daughter Marine Le Pen and his staff, of a PNF tax fraud investigation. Drawing official scrutiny were an undeclared HSBC account containing €2.2m in gold and coins, managed from Geneva by an aide through a trust based in the British Virgin Islands which was closed and then moved to the Bahamas in 2014; allegations of overbilling;[189] misuse and comingling of campaign funds;[189][190] and tax evasion. Jean-Marie Le Pen is also suspected of using his European Parliament funds for the campaign and administrative expenses of his French political party.[191] Jean-Marie Le Pen is mentioned in the documents, along with his daughter Marine Le Pen, who is the current party leader, and Frederic Chatillon, an FN insider who is also a close friend of Marine. Among the three of them, they may have hidden as much as a million pounds in offshore accounts.[192]
Soon the filings almost covered the island's year budget. The US government however made official noises in 2001 about laundering criminal proceeds and Chase Bank blacklisted the island and Bank of New York followed suit. This caused inconvenience to the population so they let their contract with Mossack Fonseca expire and many of the privacy-seekers on the banking world moved on.[497] Some did stay however, apparently; the Panama Papers database lists nearly 10,000 companies and trusts set up on Niue, population 1200.[491]
Panama, Vanuatu and Lebanon may find themselves on a list of uncooperative tax havens that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) re-activated in July 2016 at the request of G20 nations, warned Le Monde, a French newspaper that participated in the investigation. Those three countries followed none of the OECD's three broad guidelines for international banking cooperation:[51]
A commonly relayed legend in Panama is that there was a fishing village that bore the name "Panamá", which purportedly meant "an abundance of fish", when the Spanish colonizers first landed in the area. The exact location of the village is unknown. The legend is usually corroborated by Captain Antonio Tello de Guzmán's diary entries, who reports landing at an unnamed village while exploring the Pacific coast of Panama in 1515; he only describes the village as a "same small indigenous fishing town". In 1517, Don Gaspar de Espinosa, a Spanish lieutenant, decided to settle a post in the same location Guzmán described. In 1519, Pedrarias Dávila decided to establish the Spanish Empire's Pacific port at the site. The new settlement replaced Santa María La Antigua del Darién, which had lost its function within the Crown's global plan after the Spanish exploitation of the riches in the Pacific began.
Lucien Ebata, a Kinshasa businessman, runs Orion Group SA, registered in the Seychelles in 2009 by Mossack Fonseca through the Luxembourg-based Figed, according to the Panama Papers.[444] Ebata, who receives a salary of a million dollars, does a business volume of around a billion, and counts both Shell and the Société nationale des pétroles du Congo (SNPC) among his customers.[444]
In response to queries from the Miami Herald and ICIJ, Mossack Fonseca issued a 2,900-word statement listing legal requirements that prevent using offshore companies for tax avoidance and total anonymity, such as FATF protocols which require identifying ultimate beneficial owners of all companies (including offshore companies) before opening any account or transacting any business.
Sergei Roldugin, a cellist with the St Petersburg orchestra who is the godfather of Putin's eldest daughter and who has been described as Putin's "best friend", appears prominently in the Panama Papers. According to the leaked papers, Roldugin acquired assets worth at least $100 million, including a 12.5% stake in Video International (Russia's largest television advertising firm),[237] companies that own stock options for some of Russia's biggest companies and the rights to loans worth hundreds of millions of dollars.[239] In 2008, a company controlled by Roldugin joined with several other offshore companies to help "another Putin insider" acquire control of Kamaz, Russia's largest truck manufacturer, and obtain investment from German carmaker Daimler AG, $250 million for 10% of Kamaz.[239] Sandalwood, another company in which Roldugin and other insiders have an interest was issued lines of credit between 2009 and 2012 worth $800,000 by Russian Commercial Bank (RCB) in Cyprus, then a wholly owned subsidiary of VTB Bank, largely owned by the Russian state.[235] Panama Papers documents indicate that Roldugin companies received several loans with no collateral, or at very low interest rates, or never repaid.[235] In 2013, several shell companies linked to the brothers Boris and Arkady Rotenberg loaned worth about US$200 million to a company in Roldugin's network. The leaked documents do not show whether they were repaid. Shortly before the loan was granted, Arkady Rotenberg's company had been awarded the tender for the South Stream pipeline project, worth billions.[235] Asked about his companies,[240] Rodulgin said "I have to take a look and find out what I can say and what I can't", and that financial matters are "delicate".[240]
The Panamanian Public Forces are the national security forces of Panama. Panama is the second country in Latin America (the other being Costa Rica) to permanently abolish its standing army. Panama maintains armed police and security forces, and small air and maritime forces. They are tasked with law enforcement and can perform limited military actions.
I also did not appreciate the cheap emotional appeals introduced in the movie from the very beginning, on which faces of ordinary people from around the world are shown, intersped with images of global wealth inequality, and with a voiceover of the manifest of "John Doe" - the leaker of the Panama Papers - describing his motivations. Some of these images are meant to tug at your heartstrings, but they extend for too long, and detract from the actual figures involved in the Papers. In some cases I found them downright misleading and manipulative, like at the very beginning, while an Argentinian journalist is talking and describes inequality in her country as one of her motivations in working as an investigative journalist, the movie shows us images of favelas in Sao Pablo, Brazil, without saying where the photos are from. (Maybe Buenos Aires was too "pretty" for the emotional appeal they were trying to convey?). I found this, describing a country while showing another, a form of emotional manipulation and it put me off the movie from the very beginning. This was also more wasted time that could have been used in doing actual journalism and informing the public on how these financial operations were carried out.
Of Panama’s many short rivers, those that flow to the Caribbean include the Sixaola, Changuinola, Indio, Cricamola, La Miel, and Chagres. Rivers flowing to the Pacific include the Chiriquí Viejo, Santa María, Chepo, Chucunaque, and Tuira. During the rainy season the Tuira is navigable for some 40 miles (60 km) and the Chepo for 20 miles (30 km). Water in the Panama Canal does not flow from coast to coast; rather, it is released from the rain-fed Gatún and Alajuela (Madden) lakes in the central highlands. In effect, the water flows to both coasts simultaneously via the canal’s system of locks and dams. For details on the engineering and operation of the waterway, see Panama Canal.
For over 300 years, the Spanish ruled Panama. Struggles to gain control of many of the Central American countries continued for decades. In 1821, Panama gained independence from Spain only to join what was then Colombia later that same year. In 1846, a treaty between Colombia and the United States was signed, permitting the U.S. to construct a railway across the country.
In response to queries from the Miami Herald and ICIJ, Mossack Fonseca issued a 2,900-word statement listing legal requirements that prevent using offshore companies for tax avoidance and total anonymity, such as FATF protocols which require identifying ultimate beneficial owners of all companies (including offshore companies) before opening any account or transacting any business.
The United States State Department does not recommend traveling outside of the city due to the lack of accessibility to some areas and the prevalence of organized crime. Within the city, the State Department acknowledges the presence of crimes in the city, some of which include violent acts such as shootings, rape, armed robbery, and intentional kidnapping. The United States State Department also warns tourists about the purchasing of counterfeited or pirated goods, as they may be in violation of local Panamanian laws. In terms of LGBT rights in the city, same sex marriage is not recognized by the government but there are laws in place to prevent discrimination against the LGBT community.[35]
The Pacific coastline is extended by the Azuero Peninsula and the Gulf of Panama and by numerous headlands and bays, whereas the largest embayment on the Caribbean side is Chiriquí Lagoon. The Pacific coastline is more indented and irregular, and its continental shelf is much wider than that on the Atlantic side. In addition, most of the republic’s more than 1,600 islands lie off its Pacific coast; they include the Perlas Archipelago (Pearl Islands) and the islands of Taboga, Cébaco, Parida, Jicarón, and Coiba, the largest. The principal archipelagoes off the Caribbean coast are those of Bocas del Toro and San Blas.
Boquete is one of the original areas in Panama to have an expat community. Held as one of the largest expat populations in Panama, current estimates are the population of expats number 5,000 among the 25,000 people living in this highland mountain town. Boquete has always been a tourist destination for those seeking outdoor activities and cooler weather. Several expats have opened businesses in Boquete such as bakeries, hotels, and restaurants. Boquete has become known as a holistic and wellness center with an array of classes in Yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and Chi Gong on offer.
Climatic regions are determined less on the basis of temperature than on rainfall, which varies regionally from less than 1,300 millimeters (51.2 in) to more than 3,000 millimeters (118.1 in) per year. Almost all of the rain falls during the rainy season, which is usually from April to December, but varies in length from seven to nine months. In general, rainfall is much heavier on the Caribbean than on the Pacific side of the continental divide. The annual average in Panama City is little more than half of that in Colón. Although rainy-season thunderstorms are common, the country is outside the hurricane belt.

For over 300 years, the Spanish ruled Panama. Struggles to gain control of many of the Central American countries continued for decades. In 1821, Panama gained independence from Spain only to join what was then Colombia later that same year. In 1846, a treaty between Colombia and the United States was signed, permitting the U.S. to construct a railway across the country.
Getting to Panama City Beach is a cinch, thanks to its proximity to Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP). The airport is only 20 minutes by car from the shimmering white sands that make Panama City Beach such a hotspot on the Gulf of Mexico. Here, you can catch sight of dolphins, go scuba diving amid shipwrecks, and explore the dunes and forests of St Andrews State Park.
Leaked documents suggest that Mossack Fonseca helped tuna export company Borda Azul set up a shell company in the British Virgin Islands in order to avoid Costa Rican taxes. The firm, now out of business, was headed by Hermes Navarro, president of the Costa Rican Football Federation from 1999 to 2006.[403] In the late 1990s the Finance Ministry and Prosecutor's Office investigated Borda Azul and other export companies for allegedly misusing tax credit certificates; in 1997 dozens of companies had been accused of using the certificates for fraud and to launder drug profits.[403]
Bjarni Benediktsson, Iceland's finance minister and the chairman of Gunnlaugsson's coalition partner, comes from one of Iceland's wealthiest families. He confirmed that he owned 33% of Falson & Co., a Seychelles shell company founded in 2005 to purchase real estate in Dubai. It was still active in 2009, when Benediktsson was already a member of parliament with financial disclosure requirements. He said he registered the company with tax authorities, and he was not aware that it was registered in the Seychelles.[196] Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal and her husband had powers of attorney for Dooley Securities S.A., an offshore company located in Panama. She said that the company was founded for her husband but was never used, so she did not think she had to disclose it.[196] Hrólfur Ölvisson, the managing director of Gunnlaugsson's Progressive Party, says the Mossack Fonseca companies that list his name have been inactive a very long time, and were legal.[196]
Mounir Majidi, personal secretary of King Mohammed VI was designated in March 2006 as the representative of SMCD Limited created in 2005 through Geneva financial advisor Dextima Conseils. According to the ICIJ, through SMCD Majidi bought the "Aquarius W", a 1930s-era luxury sailboat, which was then registered in Morocco as "El Boughaz", belonging to the king. SMCD, according to the ICIJ, also made a loan to a Luxembourg company, Logimed Investissements Co SARL, for which details are not available. Following this loan, SMCD was liquidated in 2013.[462]

^ "Hong Kong innovation minister, Polytechnic University embroiled in Panama Papers leaks: Documents show that Nicholas Yang was involved with two companies set up by the institution through Panamanian law firm Mossack-Fonseca in the British Virgin Islands". South China Morning Post. April 22, 2016. Archived from the original on April 23, 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
Coronado is a vibrant community located just one hour from Panama City, and many Panamanians have second homes here on the beach. Of the 5,000 plus population there is a large group of expats which are a mix of Canadians, Americans, and Europeans. Built in 1941, this beach community is trendy with shops, restaurants, activities, and resorts. On weekends it is a favorite getaway spot for Panama City residents to spend time at the beach.
American film-maker Stanley Kubrick had an estimated personal worth of $20 million when he died in 1999, much of it invested in an 18th-century English manor he bought in 1978. He lived in that manor for the rest of his life, filming scenes from The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut there as well. Three holding companies set up by Mossack Fonseca now own the property, and are in turn held by trusts set up for his children and grandchildren.[26] Since Kubrick was an American living in Britain, without the trust his estate would have had to pay transfer taxes to both governments and possibly have been forced to sell the property to obtain the liquid assets to pay them.[27] Kubrick is buried on the grounds along with one of his daughters, and the rest of his family still lives there.[26][27]
US authorities say that Steinmetz paid Mamadie Touré $5.3 million for her help in obtaining the concession from her husband Lansana Conté, president of Guinea, shortly before he died.[442] According to Global Witness, an offshore company belonging to Touré, Matinda, received a payment of $2.4 million from a company named Pentler Holdings. Several more payments were promised as well as 5% of BSGR shares in Simandou. Pentler owned 17.65% of BSGR Guinea.[458]
Investigations by ICIJ's sole East Asian partner CommonWealth Magazine in Taiwan found that at least 2,725 offshore companies had registered addresses in Taiwan. Ninety Taiwanese, including the singer and actor Nicky Wu, were included in the papers.[387] According to a report released by CommonWealth Magazine, Wu used the firm Horizon Sky Technology, Ltd. to co-operate with Hong Kong-based Sun Entertainment Culture Limited (zh).[388]
David Sutton was director of AAT Corporation and EHG Corporation when they held mineral licenses in North Korea and did business with Korean Natural Resources Development and Investment Corporation, which is under United Nations sanctions, and North Korea's "primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons, responsible for approximately half of the arms exported by North Korea."[489] The geologist, Louis Schurmann, said British billionaire Kevin Leech was key to putting the deal together.[489] Leaked documents also reveal the involvement of another Briton, Gibraltar-based John Lister.[489] According to ABC, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was aware of these mining deals, which had also been brought up in the Australian Senate, but nobody ever referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police.[489]
Getting to Panama City Beach is a cinch, thanks to its proximity to Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP). The airport is only 20 minutes by car from the shimmering white sands that make Panama City Beach such a hotspot on the Gulf of Mexico. Here, you can catch sight of dolphins, go scuba diving amid shipwrecks, and explore the dunes and forests of St Andrews State Park.

Two years after the Panama Papers rocked the offshore financial system, a fresh document leak from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca reveals new financial details about an array of global elites, including soccer superstar Lionel Messi, the family of the Argentine president, and a former senior Kuwaiti official convicted of looting his country’s social security system.


Nearly 500 rivers lace Panama's rugged landscape. Mostly unnavigable, many originate as swift highland streams, meander in valleys, and form coastal deltas. However, the Río Chagres (Chagres River), located in central Panama, is one of the few wide rivers and a source of hydroelectric power. The central part of the river is dammed by the Gatun Dam and forms Gatun Lake, an artificial lake that constitutes part of the Panama Canal. The lake was created by the construction of the Gatun Dam across the Río Chagres between 1907 and 1913. Once created, Gatun Lake was the largest man-made lake in the world, and the dam was the largest earth dam. The river drains northwest into the Caribbean. The Kampia and Madden Lakes (also filled from the Río Chagres) provide hydroelectricity for the area of the former Canal Zone.
Panama is bounded to the north by the Caribbean Sea (an extension of the Atlantic Ocean) and to the south by the Pacific Ocean. It has an elongated S shape, with its Caribbean coastline stretching some 800 miles (1,290 km) and the Pacific coast some 1,060 miles (1,700 km); however, a line drawn from the Costa Rican frontier in the west to the Colombian border in the east would extend only 480 miles (770 km). The shortest distance across the isthmus is about 30 miles (50 km), from the mouth of the Nergalá (Necategua) River, which flows into the Gulf of San Blas on the Caribbean shore, to the mouth of the Chepo River on the Pacific coast. Nearly as narrow is the portion of the isthmus traversed by the Panama Canal.
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