^ Jump up to: a b Michael Daly (April 5, 2016). "Polynesian 'Rock' That Made Millions From Panama Papers' Crooks: How Niue, a coral outcropping with just 1,190 residents, rolled out the welcome mat for Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the center of the massive records leak—and made a tidy profit". Daily Beast. Archived from the original on May 2, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
During World War II, construction of military bases and the presence of larger numbers of U.S. military and civilian personnel brought about unprecedented levels of prosperity to the city. Panamanians had limited access, or no access at all, to many areas in the Canal Zone neighboring the Panama city metropolitan area. Some of these areas were military bases accessible only to United States personnel. Some tensions arose between the people of Panama and the U.S. citizens living in the Panama Canal Zone. This erupted in the January 9, 1964 events, known as Martyrs' Day.
The Panama Papers are documents that contain personal financial information about a number of wealthy individuals and public officials that had previously been kept private. Among those named in the leak were a dozen current or former world leaders, 128 other public officials, and politicians and hundreds of celebrities, business people and other rich individuals.
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]
Aristóteles Núñez, in charge at the time of the government's tax administration, Servicio de Administración Tributaria, said that people involved in the Panama Papers case can still make tax declarations and pay taxes on their investments. Being Mexican and having foreign investments or bank accounts is not a crime, but having income and not declaring it is illegal. If investments are categorized as tax evasion, fines of up to 100% of the omitted tax payment can result, as well as three months to nine years imprisonment.[406]
Austria's financial market authority has announced that they will audit two Austrian banks that were mentioned in the Panama Papers – Raiffeisenbank International (RBI) and Hypo Vorarlberg [de]. It will be specifically examining whether the banks have complied with their obligation to prevent money laundering. Hypo Vorarlberg subsequently announced that while they have complied with all laws in the past, they are planning to retreat completely from the offshore sector.[174]
Panama's tropical environment supports an abundance of plants. Forests dominate, interrupted in places by grasslands, scrub, and crops. Although nearly 40% of Panama is still wooded, deforestation is a continuing threat to the rain-drenched woodlands. Tree cover has been reduced by more than 50 percent since the 1940s. Subsistence farming, widely practised from the northeastern jungles to the southwestern grasslands, consists largely of corn, bean, and tuber plots. Mangrove swamps occur along parts of both coasts, with banana plantations occupying deltas near Costa Rica. In many places, a multi-canopied rain forest abuts the swamp on one side of the country and extends to the lower reaches of slopes on the other.
The trial court prosecutor in Tunis ordered a judicial inquiry into the Panama Papers and Tunisian political figures suspected of hiring the firm. A judge from a Tunisian court specializing in financial crimes was assigned to the case.[479] The Tunisian Assembly of the Representatives of the People established a parliamentary commission of inquiry as well[480]
In addition to these tourist attractions, Panama City offers many different options when it comes to hotel accommodations, including the first Waldorf Astoria hotel to open in Latin America, and many small boutique style hotels that have smaller numbers of guest rooms and offer a more intimate vacation. Nightlife in the city is centered around the Calle Uruguay and Casco Viejo neighborhoods. These neighborhoods contain a variety of different bars and nightclubs that cater to the tourists visiting the city.[33]

Panamá is located between the Pacific Ocean and tropical rain forest in the northern part of Panama. The Parque Natural Metropolitano (Metropolitan Nature Park), stretching from Panama City along the Panama Canal, has unique bird species and other animals, such as tapir, puma, and caimans. At the Pacific entrance of the canal is the Centro de Exhibiciones Marinas (Marine Exhibitions Center), a research center for those interested in tropical marine life and ecology, managed by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.


Steinmetz, who has a personal fortune of $6 billion, supplies diamonds to Tiffany and DeBeers and is Sierra Leone's largest private investor. Yet, according to a detailed report in The Namibian, his Octea subsidiary owes, among other debts, property taxes of $700,000 to the city of Koidu. These unpaid taxes are discounted, according to mayor Saa Emerson Lamina, because Octea promised a 5% profit−sharing agreement, and payment 1% of its annual profit to a community development fund, but it did not do this either.[18]
Computer security expert Chris Kubecka announced May 24, 2016 that the Mossack Fonseca client login portal was running four different government grade remote access trojans (RATs). Kubecka confirmed there were still numerous critical vulnerabilities, too many open ports into their infrastructure and internet access to their archive server due to weak security.[74] Kubecka explained how each data security issue was discovered in detail in a full-length book titled Down the Rabbit Hole: An OSINT Journey.[75]
The current wife of former prime minister of Spain Felipe González, María García Vaquero, opened an account in Switzerland for Carmingo Ltd in 2004 in the tax haven of Niue, an island in the South Pacific.[263] The lawyer Cándido Conde-Pumpido Jr., son of former General Prosecutor of Spain and magistrate of the Supreme Court of Spain, Cándido Conde-Pumpido, asked to open a Mossack Fonseca offshore company in 2008, though the transaction wasn't completed[why?]. He had intended the offshore company to be an intermediary in a project to build a skyscraper in the capital of Panama, not to hide money.[264]
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]
Conservative supermarket magnate Ricardo Martinelli was elected to succeed Martin Torrijos with a landslide victory in the May 2009 presidential election. Martinelli's business credentials drew voters worried by slowing growth due to the 2008 financial crisis.[45] Standing for the four-party opposition Alliance for Change, Martinelli gained 60 percent of the vote, against 37 percent for the candidate of the governing left-wing Democratic Revolutionary Party.

The city proper has approximately 880,691 inhabitants in 23 boroughs.[25] The inhabitants of Panama City are commonly referred to as capitalinos and include large numbers of Afro-Panamanians, mestizos, and mulattos, with notable white and Asian minorities.[26] There is a great deal of cultural diversity within the city, which manifests itself in the wide variety of languages commonly spoken, such as German, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew and English, in addition to Spanish.[18]

According to Senegalese daily Libération, the money-laundering unit Tracfin became interested in 2006 in a €300,000 payment from Groupe Marck, a French company specializing in military uniforms and anti-riot gear, to a Monaco-based entity called Citp. Citp was managed by Kane, a close friend of the president's chief of staff, Maixent Accrombessi, himself held in Paris and interrogated in August 2015. French officials wanted to ask Accrombessi about a contract between Marck and the Gabonese Ministry of the Interior for €7 million. The head of Marck, Philippe Belin, was also held and questioned. The investigation was assigned to Roger Le Loire [fr], who also conducted the so-called "ill-gotten goods" investigation, which targeted a number of African leaders including the father and predecessor of Ali Bongo Ondimba, the current president of Gabon.[31]
In 1744, Bishop Francisco Javier de Luna Victoria DeCastro established the College of San Ignacio de Loyola and on June 3, 1749, founded La Real y Pontificia Universidad de San Javier. By this time, however, Panama's importance and influence had become insignificant as Spain's power dwindled in Europe and advances in navigation technique increasingly permitted ships to round Cape Horn in order to reach the Pacific. While the Panama route was short it was also labor-intensive and expensive because of the loading and unloading and laden-down trek required to get from the one coast to the other.
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.
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]
Revenue from canal tolls continues to represent a significant portion of Panama's GDP, although commerce, banking, and tourism are major and growing sectors. It is regarded as a high-income country.[10] In 2015 Panama ranked 60th in the world in terms of the Human Development Index.[11] In 2018, Panama was ranked seventh-most competitive economy in Latin America, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index.[12] Covering around 40 percent of its land area, Panama's jungles are home to an abundance of tropical plants and animals – some of them found nowhere else on earth.[13] Panama is a founding member of the United Nations and other international organizations such as OAS, LAIA, G77, WHO and NAM.

As of the census of 2010, there were 36,484 people, 14,819 households, and 9,039 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,246.0/per square mile . There were 17,438 housing units at an average density of 530.7 per square mile (204.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 71.6% White, 22.0% African American, 0.5% Native American, 1.6% Asian, 0.1 Native Hawaiian and 2.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.1% of the population.

Many leaked documents reference Bank Leumi, primarily its branch on the island tax haven of Jersey. One of its customers, billionaire Teddy Sagi, made his fortune developing online gambling technology in England and recently developed the Camden Market commercial real estate space. Sagi is sole shareholder of at least 16 Mossack Fonseca offshore companies, mostly real estate ventures.[363]
When Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko took office in 2014, a popular uprising had just toppled his predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych.[292] Poroshenko pledged to sell his candy business (Roshen) if elected, but leaked documents indicate that on August 21, 2014 he instead had Mossack Fonseca set up offshore holding company Prime Asset Partners Ltd in the British Virgin Islands and moved his company there, roughly two months after the election. The move had the potential to save him millions of dollars on his Ukrainian taxes.[293] Records in Cyprus show him as the firm's only shareholder.[294] Some legal experts say the explanation may be sound;[295] however this isn't making a difference to Ukrainian media making the point that Poroshenko opened his offshore account in August 2014 as Ukrainian soldiers were being massacred by the Russians in Ilovaisk.[295] The Panama Papers report may also have figured in the defeat of a trade deal with the Netherlands in a referendum there on April 6.[295]
Tourism in Panama is rapidly growing.[citation needed] It has maintained its growth over the past five years due to government tax and price discounts to foreign guests and retirees. These economic incentives have caused Panama to be regarded as a relatively good place to retire.[citation needed] Real estate developers in Panama have increased the number of tourism destinations in the past five years because of interest in these visitor incentives.[65]
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]
Bruno Itoua was the president's advisor on oil and director-general of the SNPC until 2005. A US federal court found that he diverted funds to fictitious companies, but he nonetheless became minister of energy. Panama Papers documents seen by Le Monde reveal he has also held the power of attorney since 2004 for Denvest Capital Strategies and Grafin Associated SA, registered by Mossack Fonseca in Panama and the British Virgin Islands.[444] Itoua is currently minister for scientific research.[444]

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.
Law firms play a central role in offshore financial operations.[37] Mossack Fonseca is one of the biggest in its field and the biggest financial institutions refer customers to it.[4] Its services to clients include incorporating and operating shell companies in friendly jurisdictions on their behalf.[95] They can include creating "complex shell company structures" that, while legal, also allow the firm's clients "to operate behind an often impenetrable wall of secrecy".[23] The leaked papers detail some of their intricate, multilevel, and multinational corporate structures.[96] Mossack Fonseca has acted with global consultancy partners like Emirates Asset Management Ltd, Ryan Mohanlal Ltd, Sun Hedge Invest and Blue Capital Ltd on behalf of more than 300,000 companies, most of them registered in the British Overseas Territories.
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]
Law firms play a central role in offshore financial operations.[37] Mossack Fonseca is one of the biggest in its field and the biggest financial institutions refer customers to it.[4] Its services to clients include incorporating and operating shell companies in friendly jurisdictions on their behalf.[95] They can include creating "complex shell company structures" that, while legal, also allow the firm's clients "to operate behind an often impenetrable wall of secrecy".[23] The leaked papers detail some of their intricate, multilevel, and multinational corporate structures.[96] Mossack Fonseca has acted with global consultancy partners like Emirates Asset Management Ltd, Ryan Mohanlal Ltd, Sun Hedge Invest and Blue Capital Ltd on behalf of more than 300,000 companies, most of them registered in the British Overseas Territories.
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.
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]
The highest point in the country is the Volcán Barú, which rises to 3,475 metres (11,401 feet). A nearly impenetrable jungle forms the Darién Gap between Panama and Colombia where Colombian guerrillas and drug dealers operate and sometimes take hostages. This and unrest, and forest protection movements, create a break in the Pan-American Highway, which otherwise forms a complete road from Alaska to Patagonia.

Many of the expats here also cite Panama’s geographical diversity and location, with proximity to North America being a major factor. In a country roughly the size of South Carolina, you’ll find mountains and beaches within an easy striking distance—no matter where in the country you are. Wake up on the Caribbean and have lunch overlooking the Pacific…they’re a couple of hours apart at the isthmus’ “skinniest” sections. Choose your preferred climate, topography, population density and more in Panama’s varied landscape.
Mossack Fonseca has managed more than 300,000 companies over the years.[95] The number of active companies peaked at more than 80,000 in 2009. Over 210,000 companies in twenty-one jurisdictions figure in the leaks. More than half were incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, others in Panama, the Bahamas, the Seychelles, Niue, and Samoa. Mossack Fonseca's clients have come from more than 100 countries. Most of the corporate clients were from Hong Kong, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Panama, and Cyprus. Mossack Fonseca worked with more than 14,000 banks, law firms, incorporators, and others to set up companies, foundations, and trusts for their clients.[107] Some 3,100 companies listed in the database appear to have ties to US offshore specialists, and 3,500 shareholders of offshore companies list US addresses.[108] Mossack Fonseca has offices in Nevada and Wyoming.[109]
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]
Located at the tip of the Azuero Peninsula, Pedasi is a quaint unassuming beach town with a pristine downtown area. The expat community numbers several hundred within the total population of just under 5,000. This expat community is growing as visitors have discovered this treasured jewel. Not much further down the two-lane road is Playa Venao, one of Panama’s best surfing beaches.
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]
On April 8, a few hours after the publication of a new series of articles focusing on art hidden behind offshore companies, a prosecutor sequestered a Modigliani worth some $25 million at Geneva Freeport.[269][289] Litigation in New York alleged the painting had been stolen by Nazis during World War II; the defendants said they did not own it, but the leaked documents show that they control International Art Center, a shell company registered in Panama which does own it.[269]
Rami Makhlouf, a maternal cousin of Bashar Al-Assad, was worth an estimated $5 billion before the Syrian Civil War, and had control of 60% of the economy. He was subject to sanctions by the United States and the European Union, and controlled Syria's oil and telecommunications business.[383] The US Treasury charged that Pangates, a company registered to him, supplied the Assad government with a thousand tonnes of aviation fuel.[384] However, the Makhloufs were able to continue to operate via Panama shell companies,[103] registered in the British Virgin Islands, and so not subject to US law – however, on May 9, 2011, the EU issued its own sanctions, and these were extended by an order in council to the British Virgin Islands in July 2011.[385] Mossack Fonseca decided September 6 to resign from Makhlouf's companies. By then, Makhlouf had already cut ties with his bank. HSBC told the law firm that the Swiss authorities had frozen Makhlouf's accounts, and that "they have had no contact with the beneficial owner of this company since the last 3 months".[385]
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.

The US on the other hand refused to sign on to the Common Reporting Standard set up by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, alongside Vanuatu and Bahrain.[414] This means the US receives tax and asset information for American assets and income abroad, but does not share information about what happens in the United States with other countries, which in other words means that the United States has become attractive as a tax haven.
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