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.
Panama City (Spanish: Ciudad de Panamá; pronounced [sjuˈða(ð) ðe panaˈma]), also simply known as Panama, is the capital and largest city of Panama.[3][4] It has an urban population of 880,691,[1] with over 1.5 million in its metropolitan area. The city is located at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, in the province of Panama. The city is the political and administrative center of the country, as well as a hub for banking and commerce.[5]
The Spanish Royal Family is also involved in this tax scandal: Princess Pilar of Borbón, Duchess of Badajoz, sister of former King Juan Carlos I and aunt of the current King, Felipe VI, had an offshore corporation for 40 years, until the abdication of her brother. She assembled a company called Delantera Financiera, in 1974, and was its president and administrator. She initially denied this when her name appeared in the Panama Papers. Her husband, who died in 1991, was secretary-general of the corporation. His son, Bruno Gomez-Acebes, is treasurer and manager of this company. The name of Amalio de Marichalar [es], the count of Ripalda and the brother of Jaime de Marichalar, the former husband of the king's daughter, Elena de Borbón, also appears.
HSBC also appeared to reassure Mossack Fonseca not only that it was "comfortable" with Makhlouf as a client but suggested there could be a rapprochement with the Assad family by the US. Makhlouf is already known to be a long-standing client of HSBC's Swiss private bank, holding at least $15 million with it in multiple accounts in 2006.[103] The Panamanian files also show HSBC provided financial services to a Makhlouf company called Drex Technologies, which HSBC said was a company of "good standing".[103]

Meanwhile, Noriega's regime had fostered a well-hidden criminal economy that operated as a parallel source of income for the military and their allies, providing revenues from drugs and money laundering. Toward the end of the military dictatorship, a new wave of Chinese migrants arrived on the isthmus in the hope of migrating to the United States. The smuggling of Chinese became an enormous business, with revenues of up to 200 million dollars for Noriega's regime (see Mon 167).[30]
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.
On April 7, 2016, the Anti Corruption Commission Bangladesh launched an inquiry to obtain details of the businesses and individuals allegedly affiliated with Mossack Fonseca.[336] Allegations have been made against thirty-two Bangladeshi individuals and two corporations, however, media outlets staking this claim have referenced an old ICIJ database of information compiled during the investigation of the 2013 Offshore Leaks.[337]
Panama's international airport, Tocumen International Airport is located on the eastern outskirts of the city's metropolitan area. Two other airports serve Panama City: Panamá Pacífico, previously the Howard Air Force Base, and Marcos A. Gelabert, previously the Albrook Air Force Base. Pacífico serves VivaColombia and Wingo, while Marcos A. Gelabert Airport is the main hub for AirPanama. All other flights are served by Tocumen.
One of the newer tourist areas of the city is the area immediately east of the Pacific entrance of the canal, known as the Amador Causeway. This area is currently being developed as a tourist center and nightlife destination. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute operates a station and a small museum open to the public at Culebra Point on the island of Naos. A new museum, the Biomuseo, was recently completed on the causeway in 2014. It was designed by the American architect Frank Gehry, famous for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.[34] Just outside the city limits is the Parque Municipal Summit. A new convention center called the Amador Convention Center is being built in Amador by CSCEC in a joint venture with a Panamanian company called CCG Cocige. The Panamanian ministry of Tourism hopes for the convention center to house 100 international events annually. There were plans(proposed by Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela) to build in Amador a campus for the embassy of the People's Republic of China in Panama, however the plans were eventually dropped, due to criticism from the general public and fears that tourists could easily assume that Panama was Chinese territory. Varela in response said that Amador is an area that "must have more value".
The Spanish Royal Family is also involved in this tax scandal: Princess Pilar of Borbón, Duchess of Badajoz, sister of former King Juan Carlos I and aunt of the current King, Felipe VI, had an offshore corporation for 40 years, until the abdication of her brother. She assembled a company called Delantera Financiera, in 1974, and was its president and administrator. She initially denied this when her name appeared in the Panama Papers. Her husband, who died in 1991, was secretary-general of the corporation. His son, Bruno Gomez-Acebes, is treasurer and manager of this company. The name of Amalio de Marichalar [es], the count of Ripalda and the brother of Jaime de Marichalar, the former husband of the king's daughter, Elena de Borbón, also appears.

Isabel Saint Malo de Alvarado, Vice President of Panama, said in an op-ed piece published April 21 in The Guardian that President Juan Carlos Varela and his administration have strengthened Panama's controls over money-laundering in the twenty months they have been in power, and that "Panama is setting up an independent commission, co-chaired by the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, to evaluate our financial system, determine best practices, and recommend measures to strengthen global financial and legal transparency. We expect its findings within the next six months, and will share the results with the international community."[131]
The definite origin of the name Panama is unknown. There are several theories. One states that the country was named after a commonly found species of tree (Sterculia apetala, the Panama tree). Another states that the first settlers arrived in Panama in August, when butterflies are abundant, and that the name means "many butterflies" in one or several of indigenous Amerindian languages that were spoken in the territory prior to Spanish colonization. The most scientifically corroborated theory by Panamanian linguists, states that the word is a hispanicization of Kuna language word "bannaba" which means "distant" or "far away".[14]
On May 12, 2016, the names of former Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull, and former Premier of New South Wales Neville Wran, were both found in the Panama Papers, due to the pair's former directorship of the Mossack Fonseca-incorporated company Star Technology Systems Limited. Turnbull and Wran resigned from these positions in 1995, and the Prime Minister has denied any impropriety, stating "had [Star Technology] made any profits—which it did not regrettably—it certainly would have paid tax in Australia."[490]
New Zealand's Inland Revenue Department said that they were working to obtain details of people who have tax residence in the country who may have been involved in arrangements facilitated by Mossack Fonseca.[493] Gerard Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, told Radio New Zealand on April 8, 2016 that New Zealand is a well-known tax haven and a "nice front for criminals".[494] New Zealand provides overseas investors with foreign trusts and look-through companies. New Zealand government policy is to not request disclosure of the identity of either the settlor or the beneficiaries of the trust, and thus the ownership remains secret, and as a consequence, thus hiding the assets from the trust-holder's home jurisdictions. These trusts are not taxed in New Zealand. These trusts can then be used to acquire and own New Zealand registered companies, which become a vehicle by which the trust owners can exercise day to day control over their assets. These New Zealand-registered companies can be designed not to make a profit using loans from tax havens and other profit shifting techniques: the result being tax free income with the general respectability that has typically been associated with companies registered in New Zealand.

The Panamanian currency is officially the balboa, fixed at a rate of 1:1 with the United States dollar since Panamanian independence in 1903. In practice, Panama is dollarized: U.S. dollars are legal tender and used for all paper currency, and whilst Panama has its own coinage, U.S. coins are widely used. Because of the tie to US dollars, Panama has traditionally had low inflation. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Panama's inflation in 2006 was 2.0 percent as measured by a weighted Consumer Price Index.[68]


On April 7, 2016, the Anti Corruption Commission Bangladesh launched an inquiry to obtain details of the businesses and individuals allegedly affiliated with Mossack Fonseca.[336] Allegations have been made against thirty-two Bangladeshi individuals and two corporations, however, media outlets staking this claim have referenced an old ICIJ database of information compiled during the investigation of the 2013 Offshore Leaks.[337]
The Caribbean coastline is marked by several natural harbors. However, Cristóbal, at the Caribbean terminus of the canal, had the only important port facilities in the late 1980s. The numerous islands of the Archipiélago de Bocas del Toro, near the Beaches of Costa Rica, provide an extensive natural roadstead and shield the banana port of Almirante. The more than 350 San Blas Islands near Colombia, are strung out over more than 160 kilometres (99 miles) along the sheltered Caribbean coastline.
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]

Indian politicians on the list include Shishir Bajoria from West Bengal and Anurag Kejriwal, former chief of the Delhi Lok Satta Party.[353] Bajoria said he owned two other Isle of Man companies but not the one ascribed to him in the leaked documents. Corporate services provider First Names Group acknowledged erroneously providing his information to Mossack Fonseca.[357] MF records show Kejriwal as director of three offshore companies based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), and holding two private foundations in Panama and power of attorney of another BVI company. He acknowledged having had offshore companies but said he shut them down after a short period of time.[358]

In theory American[448] and European[451] buyers of gold in Africa are required to review their supply chain and report any use of conflict resources, such as gold from eastern Congo. In practice the requirement is widely ignored, and an investigation by African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR) found examples in the leaked Mossack Fonseca documents of anonymous shell companies doing the sourcing. For a start, most of the DRC gold winds up in Dubai by way of Uganda. Dubai's $75 billion gold industry is regulated with a very light hand by the quasi-private Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC).[449]
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]
Tropical forests around Panama are vital for the functioning of the Panama Canal, providing it with the water required for its operation. Due to the canal's importance to the Panamanian economy, tropical forests around the canal have been kept in an almost pristine state; the canal is thus a rare example of a vast engineering project in the middle of a forest that helped to preserve that forest. Along the western side of the canal is the Parque Nacional Soberanía (Sovereignty National Park), which includes the Summit botanical gardens and a zoo. The best known trail in this national park is Pipeline Road, popular among birdwatchers.[7]
Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn said "The government needs to stop pussyfooting around on tax dodging"[311] and called for "direct rule" to be imposed over British Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies that act as tax havens.[312] Former Business Secretary Vince Cable agreed, although former attorney general Dominic Grieve described the proposal as a "bit of a nuclear option"[313] which would "destroy the livelihoods" of BVI inhabitants in the finance industry.[314] The Labour Party also said that Cameron's planned "anti-corruption" summit in May[315] would be "a charade" if Cameron, as chairman of the summit, did not require representatives of all Crown dependencies and overseas territories to attend.[316]
The Bangkok Post reported that the "Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) is seeking information from its foreign counterparts regarding twenty-one Thai nationals reportedly included in a list of people worldwide using a Panama-based law firm apparently specializing in money laundering and tax evasion." It is not clear why AMLO is investigating only twenty-one. The Panama Papers include at least 780 names of individuals based in Thailand and another 50 companies based in Thailand. Some are foreigners or foreign-owned companies, but 634 individual addresses in Thailand appear in the documents that have surfaced to date, including the CEOs of giant companies Bangkok Land and Phatra Finance.[386]
Excellent deep water ports capable of accommodating large VLCC (Very Large Crude Oil Carriers) are located at Charco Azul, Chiriquí (Pacific) and Chiriquí Grande, Bocas del Toro (Atlantic) near Panama's western border with Costa Rica. The Trans-Panama pipeline, running 131 kilometres (81 miles) across the isthmus, has operated between Charco Azul and Chiriquí Grande since 1979.[50]
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.
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.
Mossack Fonseca approached Niue in 1996 and offered to help set up a tax haven on the tiny South Sea island. The law firm drafted the necessary legislation, permitting offshore companies to operate in total secrecy. They took care of all the paperwork, the island got a modest fee for each filing, and it seemed like quite a deal, even if they were required by law now to provide all banking paperwork in Russian and Chinese as well as English.[497]
Former Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal was a director or shareholder in four holding companies and was active in two after she took office. Her husband owns another seven. The companies were used for real estate transactions in Britain. Rawal and her husband were shareholders and directors of Highworth Management Services, where Ajay Shah, a former director of Trust Bank, was also a shareholder and director. The Central Bank of Kenya ordered Shah's assets auctioned to repay depositors after Trust Bank collapsed, but he went into hiding and the assets have not been recovered.[461]
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists helped organize the research and document review once Süddeutsche Zeitung realized the scale of the work required to validate the authenticity of 2.6 terabytes[52] of leaked data. They enlisted reporters and resources from The Guardian, the BBC, Le Monde, SonntagsZeitung, Falter, La Nación, German broadcasters NDR and WDR, and Austrian broadcaster ORF, and eventually many others.[53] Ultimately, "reporters at 100 news media outlets working in 25 languages had used the documents" to investigate individuals and organizations associated with Mossack Fonseca.[2]
A 2012 investigation, by Radio Free Europe and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) discovered that through overseas holding companies, the daughters of Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev owned an interest in a gold mine operation created by a 2006 presidential decree forming a consortium, then awarding it a 30-year lease over environmental and transparency objections in Parliament.[327]
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.

The dominant feature of Panama's geography is the central spine of mountains and hills that forms the continental divide. The divide does not form part of the great mountain chains of North America, and only near the Colombian border are there highlands related to the Andean system of South America. The spine that forms the divide is the highly eroded arch of an uplift from the sea bottom, in which peaks were formed by volcanic intrusions.


Attorney General of Panama Kenia Isolda Porcell Diaz announced on January 24, 2017 that he was suspending the investigations against Mossack Fonseca because it filed an appeal for protection of constitutional rights before the First Superior Court of Justice of Panama and requested that he deliver all the original documents to issue a judgment.[153][154][155][clarification needed]
The terminal ports located at each end of the Panama Canal, namely the Port of Cristóbal, Colón and the Port of Balboa, are ranked second and third respectively in Latin America in terms of numbers of containers units (TEU) handled.[48] The Port of Balboa covers 182 hectares and contains four berths for containers and two multi-purpose berths. In total, the berths are over 2,400 metres (7,900 feet) long with alongside depth of 15 metres (49 feet). The Port of Balboa has 18 super post-Panamax and Panamax quay cranes and 44 gantry cranes. The Port of Balboa also contains 2,100 square metres (23,000 square feet) of warehouse space.[49]
Excellent deep water ports capable of accommodating large VLCC (Very Large Crude Oil Carriers) are located at Charco Azul, Chiriquí (Pacific) and Chiriquí Grande, Bocas del Toro (Atlantic) near Panama's western border with Costa Rica. The Trans-Panama pipeline, running 131 kilometres (81 miles) across the isthmus, has operated between Charco Azul and Chiriquí Grande since 1979.[50]
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]
The Isthmus of Panama was formed about three million years ago when the land bridge between North and South America finally became complete, and plants and animals gradually crossed it in both directions. The existence of the isthmus affected the dispersal of people, agriculture and technology throughout the American continent from the appearance of the first hunters and collectors to the era of villages and cities.[16][17]
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