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.
An example of undisturbed, unique culture in Panama is that of the Guna who are known for molas. Mola is the Guna word for blouse, but the term mola has come to mean the elaborate embroidered panels made by Guna women, that make up the front and back of a Guna woman's blouse. They are several layers of cloth, varying in color, that are loosely stitched together, made using a reverse appliqué process.
A hearing on October 18, 2017 resulted in an indictment for Sharif, who has faced allegations of corruption since the 1980s. The Panama Papers corroborated a federal inquiry in the mid-1990s and name both Nawaz Sharif and his younger brother, Punjab chief minister Shebaz Sharif. They also link in-laws of Shebaz Sharif and children of Nawaz Sharif to offshore companies. Mossack Fonseca records tie Nawaz' daughter Maryam Nawaz and her brothers Hussein and Hassan to four offshore companies, Nescoll Limited, Nielson Holdings Limited, Coomber Group Inc., and Hangon Property Holdings Limited. The companies acquired luxury real estate in London during 2006–2007. The real estate was collateral for loans of up to $13.8 million, according to the Panama Papers. The prime minister's children say the money came from the sale of a family business in Saudi Arabia. But these offshore companies and assets were not disclosed on his family's wealth statement and the suspicion that the companies were meant to hide or launder ill-gotten wealth or to avoid taxes called Sharif's ethics into question.
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." The geologist, Louis Schurmann, said British billionaire Kevin Leech was key to putting the deal together. Leaked documents also reveal the involvement of another Briton, Gibraltar-based John Lister. 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.
King Salman is mentioned in the leaks in relation to two companies based in the British Virgin Islands—Verse Development Corporation, incorporated in 1999, and Inrow Corporation, incorporated in 2002. The companies took out mortgages totaling over US$34 million and purchased properties in central London. His role in the companies was not specified. BVI company Crassus Limited, incorporated in 2004, registered a yacht in London, named Erga after King Salman's palace in Riyadh. The vessel boasts a banquet hall and can comfortably sleep 30. King Salman is described in the documents as its "principal user".
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.