One year before the start of the California Gold Rush, the Panama Railroad Company was formed, but the railroad did not begin full operation until 1855. Between 1848 and 1869, the year the first transcontinental railroad was completed in the United States, about 375,000 persons crossed the isthmus from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and 225,000 in the opposite direction. This traffic greatly increased the prosperity of the city during that period.

The documents contain personal financial information about wealthy individuals and public officials that had previously been kept private.[5] While offshore business entities are legal (see Offshore Magic Circle), reporters found that some of the Mossack Fonseca shell corporations were used for illegal purposes, including fraud, tax evasion, and evading international sanctions.[6]
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]

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 Municipality of Regulation and Supervision of Financial Subjects [not the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF)] initiated a special review of the law firm Mossack Fonseca to determine whether it had followed tax law. Carlamara Sanchez, in charge of this proceeding, said at a press conference that the quartermaster had come to verify whether the firm had complied since April 8 with due diligence, customer knowledge, the final beneficiary and reporting of suspicious transactions to Financial Analysis Unit (UAF) operations. She said that Law 23 of 2015 empowers regulation and supervision and said some firms had been monitored since late last year with special attention after the Panama Papers, and noted that the law carries fines $5,000 to $1 million or even suspension of the firm.[150]
Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, former Emir of Qatar,[1] is listed as owner of Afrodille S.A., which had a bank account in Luxembourg and shares in two South African companies. Al Thani also held a majority of the shares in Rienne S.A. and Yalis S.A., holding a term deposit with the Bank of China in Luxembourg. A relative owned 25% of these: Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, Qatar's former prime minister and foreign minister.[3]
Basketball is also popular in Panama. There are regional teams as well as a squad that competes internationally. Two of Panama's prominent basketball players are Rolando Blackman, a four-time NBA All-Star, and Kevin Daley, a 10-year captain and showman of the Harlem Globetrotters. Other remarkable players who represented Panama internationally are Mario Butler, and Rolando Frazer.
The ICIJ investigation of Mossack Fonseca was reported to the Public Ministry. Samid Dan Sandoval, former candidate for mayor of Santiago de Veraguas (2014), filed the legal action against the journalists and all those who had participated. He said the project name damaged the integrity, dignity and sovereignty of the country and that the consortium would have to assume legal responsibility for all damage caused to the Panamanian nation.[151]
Prominent politicians criticized the involvement of the Cameron family in the scandal; Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn urged an immediate independent investigation into the tax affairs of Cameron's family as well as tighter laws on UK tax avoidance.[323] Opponents also called for Cameron's resignation after he admitted owning shares in Blairmore.[324]

According to reporting by the African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR), the company produces 60–90% of Sierra Leone's diamond exports, and in some months between 2012 and 2015 exported more than US$330 million in rough diamonds.[18] Octea owes US$150 million in unpaid loans.[18] Although government records show taxes paid by other diamond companies, none are listed for Octea.

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]
ICIJ, The Guardian and The Independent have reported that UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan owns London real estate worth more than £1.2 billion through a structure of some thirty shell companies Mossack Fonseca set up for him in the British Virgin Islands and administer for him, using them to manage and control the luxury properties in London.[300][390][391] By December 2015, Mossack Fonseca held nearly all of the shares in those companies in trust structures on his behalf, with the President and his wife, son and daughter the trust beneficiaries.[391]

One of the most important Panamanian artists is Alfredo Sinclair. He has worked for over 50 years in abstract art and has produced one of the most important artistic collections in the country. His daughter, Olga Sinclair, has also followed in his footsteps and has become another force in Panamanian art. Another very prominent Panamanian artist is Guillermo Trujillo, known worldwide for his abstract surrealism. Brooke Alfaro is Panamanian artist known throughout the world for his uniquely rendered oil paintings. Another prominent artist is Mario Calvit, known as one of the great painters of the generation that flourished in the country between the decades of 1950 and 1970.
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]
The late Benazir Bhutto was also a Mossack Fonseca client. In 2001 the firm set up BVI company Petroline International Inc. for Bhutto, her nephew Hassan Ali Jaffery Bhutto, and her aide and head of security Rehman Malik, who later became a Senator and Interior Minister in the government of Yousaf Raza Gillani. Mossack Fonseca had deemed Bhutto's first company, the similarly named Petrofine FZC, politically sensitive and "declined to accept Mrs Bhutto as a client."[372] A United Nations committee chaired by former US Federal Reserve head Paul Volcker had determined in a 2005 investigation into abuses of the oil-for-food program that Petrofine FZC paid US$2 million to the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein to obtain US$115–145 million in oil contracts.[373]
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]

The family of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev leads a well-off life thanks in part to financial interests in various sectors of the nation's economy. His wife ascendants are privileged and powerful family that owns banks, insurance and construction companies, a television station and a line of cosmetics. She is well known for her pre-eminent charity work that has led to the construction of schools, hospitals and the country's major sports complex.[335]

The prosperity enjoyed during the first two centuries (1540–1740) while contributing to colonial growth; the placing of extensive regional judicial authority (Real Audiencia) as part of its jurisdiction; and the pivotal role it played at the height of the Spanish Empire – the first modern global empire – helped define a distinctive sense of autonomy and of regional or national identity within Panama well before the rest of the colonies.

In the late 1970s through the 1980s the city of Panama became an international banking center, bringing a lot of undesirable attention as an international money-laundering locale. In 1989 after nearly a year of tension between the United States and Panama, President George H. W. Bush ordered the invasion of Panama to depose General Manuel Noriega, the country's de facto dictator. As a result, a portion of the El Chorrillo neighborhood, which consisted mostly of old wood-framed buildings dating back to the 1900s (though still a large slum area), was destroyed by fire. In 1999, the United States officially transferred control of the Panama Canal Zone to Panama, which remains in control today.[6]

Mossack Fonseca also ran six businesses for Rami Makhlouf, cousin of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, despite US sanctions against him.[101] Internal Mossack Fonseca documents show that in 2011 Mossack Fonseca rejected a recommendation by their own compliance team to sever ties to Mr. Makhlouf. They agreed to do so only months later. The firm has said it never knowingly allowed anyone connected with rogue regimes to use its companies.[99]


New York's Department of Financial Services has asked 13 foreign banks, including Deutsche Bank AG, Credit Suisse Group AG, Commerzbank AG, ABN Amro Group NV and Societe Generale SA, for information about their dealings with Mossack Fonseca. The banks are not accused of wrongdoing but must provide telephone logs and records of other transactions between their New York branches and the law firm.[427]
Mossack Fonseca also ran six businesses for Rami Makhlouf, cousin of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, despite US sanctions against him.[101] Internal Mossack Fonseca documents show that in 2011 Mossack Fonseca rejected a recommendation by their own compliance team to sever ties to Mr. Makhlouf. They agreed to do so only months later. The firm has said it never knowingly allowed anyone connected with rogue regimes to use its companies.[99]
Nawaz Sharif was the second top official to be ruled out as the result of information disclosures in the Panama Papers. Supreme Court disqualified him from office. One judge said that Mr Sharif was no longer "eligible to be an honest member of the parliament".[364] Pakistan's ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), was permitted by the speaker of the National Assembly to select an interim prime minister until the 2018 general election. The Supreme Court verdict was announced in the context of heightened security in the capital. Over 3,000 armed police and members of the Pakistan Rangers paramilitary force were deployed around the Supreme Court. The verdict followed months of dramatic news coverage and social media debates, the divisions falling largely along party lines.[364]
More than ever, Panama City is booming with events and activities. Make Panama City your destination and visit the many fine shops, restaurants and exhibits. Discover why Panama City is listed as one of the best art towns in America for Cities with a population of less than 50,000. Year-round events include: The Blessing of the Fleet, an Annual Independence Day Celebration, and Oktoberfest.
By 1900 Panama wanted to declare itself independent from Colombia and in 1903, Panama declared independence and the U.S. recognized the sovereignty of the new country. Colombia finally relinquished in 1921 and declared Panama a separate nation. As U.S. presence increased with the building of the canal, taken on from the French, but the U.S. influence and intervention was not welcomed in all circles of Panama.
This non-smoking hotel offers air-conditioned rooms with panoramic lagoon or resort views. It features an outdoor pool and fitness center. Emerald Coast Beaches are a 20 minute drive away. I loved our villa. There was so much to do at the hotel while the beaches were closed to the public. The staff was super friendly. Everything was very clean, spacious, and had the comfort of home. I will definitely be staying here again.
The Municipality of Regulation and Supervision of Financial Subjects [not the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF)] initiated a special review of the law firm Mossack Fonseca to determine whether it had followed tax law. Carlamara Sanchez, in charge of this proceeding, said at a press conference that the quartermaster had come to verify whether the firm had complied since April 8 with due diligence, customer knowledge, the final beneficiary and reporting of suspicious transactions to Financial Analysis Unit (UAF) operations. She said that Law 23 of 2015 empowers regulation and supervision and said some firms had been monitored since late last year with special attention after the Panama Papers, and noted that the law carries fines $5,000 to $1 million or even suspension of the firm.[150]
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.
Undergoing redevelopment, the old quarter has become one of the city's main tourist attractions, second only to the Panama Canal. Both government and private sectors are working on its restoration.[30] President Ricardo Martinelli built an extension to the Cinta Costera maritime highway viaduct in 2014 named "Cinta Costera 3" around the Casco Antiguo.[31]

Mr. Cameron, whose father was a client of the Panamanian law firm, initially said he had not benefited from any “offshore funds,” only to confirm later that he and his wife had profited when they sold shares in an offshore trust for 30,000 pounds ($42,160) in 2010, the year he became prime minister. (The dividends they earned were declared and taxed, Mr. Cameron said.)

The government of Rwanda uses an offshore company to lease a private jet for its senior politicians.[441] Leaked documents show that Brigadier-General Emmanuel Ndahiro, using a London address, become a director of a British Virgin Islands company, Debden Investments Ltd. in 1998, owner of a jet aircraft. Ndahiro, a close advisor of president Paul Kagame, was then spokesman for Kagame's military.[441] According to the Panama Papers the owner of the company was Hatari Sekoko, who ran a number of real estate and hotel ventures such as the Marriott in Kigali.[439]


The city is located in Panama District, although its metropolitan area also includes some populated areas on the opposite side of the Panama Canal. As in the rest of the country, the city is divided into corregimientos, in which there are many smaller boroughs. The old quarter, known as the Casco Viejo, is located in the corregimiento of San Felipe. San Felipe and twelve other corregimientos form the urban center of the city, including Santa Ana, El Chorrillo, Calidonia, Curundú, Ancón, Bella Vista, Bethania, San Francisco, Juan Diaz, Pueblo Nuevo, Parque Lefevre, and Río Abajo.
Additional stories were released based on this data, and the full list of companies was released in early May 2016.[64] The ICIJ later announced the release on May 9, 2016 of a searchable database containing information on over 200,000 offshore entities implicated in the Panama Papers investigation and more than 100,000 additional companies implicated in the 2013 Offshore Leaks investigation.[65] Mossack Fonseca asked the ICIJ not to publish the leaked documents from its database. "We have sent a cease and desist letter," the company said in a statement.[66]

The ICIJ investigation traces out many levels of offshore holdings in multiple countries related to the business dealings of Beny Steinmetz, with many serious findings such as a request that Mossack Fonseca backdate the revocation of a power of attorney.[18] Mossack Fonseca records show that Sierra Leone diamond exporter Octea, based in the British Virgin Islands with the Steinmetz family as its beneficiaries, is wholly owned by Guernsey-based BSGR Resources, linked to a bribery scandal in Guinea. Foundations in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, among them Nysco and Balda, own BSGR. In 2007, one of Nysco's bank accounts contained $27.7 million.
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]
Two great-grandchildren of the dictator Francisco Franco, Francisco and Juan José Franco Suelves set up registered societies in the British Virgin Islands through Mossack Fonseca. Juan José Franco opened Malini Investments in 1997, being director in 2012 and closed in 2013. He told the newspaper El Confidencial he was "absolutely ignorant". Francisco Franco Suelves, his older brother, also opened Vamfield Alliance Limited in 1997 as a director.[261]
The Reykjavik Grapevine and the news site Kjarninn revealed that President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson had connections to Lasca Finance Limited, registered in 2005 in the British Virgin Islands. Ólafur Ragnar had categorically denied any personal or family ties to companies in tax havens. The parents of his wife, Dorrit Moussaieff, operated the company 1999–2005. The financial statements of the Moussaieff family business show it received nearly £7 million ($10.2 million US, €9.1 million) in interest payments from Lasca during 2000–2005. In 2005 Moussaieff Jewelers Limited sold its 10% stake of Lasca to S. Dorrit Moussaieff's deceased father and her mother, now 86 years old and the registered owner of the Lasca ownership stake. Dorrit and her sisters Tamara and Sharon will inherit her fortune, considered among the largest in the world.[201]
The leaked documents indicate that about US$2 trillion has passed through the firm's hands.[110] Several of the holding companies that appear in the documents did business with sanctioned entities, such as arms merchants and relatives of dictators, while the sanctions were in place. The firm provided services to a Seychelles company named Pangates International, which the US government believes supplied aviation fuel to the Syrian government during the current civil war, and continued to handle its paperwork and certify it as a company in good standing, despite sanctions, until August 2015.[101]
The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) denied any wrongdoing associated with the 370+ clients it had referred to Mossack Fonseca over the years."We have an extensive due diligence process... RBC works within the legal and regulatory framework of every country in which we operate," said a bank spokesman.[395] CEO David McKay said the bank will review the four decades of documentation for any problems.[396][397] CEO Bill Downe of the Bank of Montreal said "Canadian banks have 'dramatically' beefed up anti-money laundering control over the last seven to 10 years,"[398] and added that any link between Canadian businesses and the Panama Papers companies would have originated a long time ago, before Canadian banks took action to stop money laundering.[396]
Leaked documents also indicate that the firm would also backdate documents on request and, based on a 2007 exchange of emails in the leaked documents, it did so routinely enough to establish a price structure: $8.75 per month in the past.[97] In 2008, Mossack Fonseca hired a 90-year-old British man to pretend to be the owner of the offshore company of Marianna Olszewski, a US businesswoman, "a blatant breach of anti-money laundering rules" according to the BBC.[98]
Arias Madrid was declared the winner of elections that were marked by violence and accusations of fraud against Alianza del Pueblo. On October 1, 1968, Arias Madrid took office as president of Panama, promising to lead a government of "national union" that would end the reigning corruption and pave the way for a new Panama. A week and a half later, on October 11, 1968, the National Guard (Guardia Nacional) ousted Arias and initiated the downward spiral that would culminate with the United States' invasion in 1989. Arias, who had promised to respect the hierarchy of the National Guard, broke the pact and started a large restructuring of the Guard. To preserve the Guard's interests, Lieutenant Colonel Omar Torrijos Herrera and Major Boris Martínez commanded the first military coup against a civilian government in Panamanian republican history.[27]
The construction of the Panama Canal was of great benefit to the infrastructure and economy. Of particular note are the improvements in health and sanitation brought about by the American presence in the Canal Zone. Dr. William Gorgas, the chief sanitary officer for the canal construction, had a particularly large impact. He hypothesized that diseases were spread by the abundance of mosquitos native to the area, and ordered the fumigation of homes and the cleansing of water. This led to yellow fever being eradicated by November 1905, as well malaria rates falling dramatically.[6] However, most of the laborers for the construction of the canal were brought in from the Caribbean, which created unprecedented racial and social tensions in the city.
Prior to the ruling, Maryam Nawaz had tweeted denial of wrongdoing, adding that she did not own "any company/property abroad," except as "a trustee" in a brother's corporation, "which only entitles me to distribute assets to my brother Hussain's family/children if needed."[369] The leaked documents name her as a trustee of Nescoll, created in 1993, and Nielson, first registered in 1994. The two companies subscribed to Mossack Fonseca services in July 2006. Mossack Fonseca was managing Nescoll, Nielsen Holdings, and Coomber Group when the three companies obtained a £7 million mortgage from the Swiss bank, Deutsche Bank (Suisse) SA and purchased four flats in Avenfield House, at 118 Park Lane in London. Hassan, the other brother, bought Hangon Holdings and its stock in 2007 for £5.5 million; Hangon then bought property, financed through the Bank of Scotland, at 1 Hyde Park Place in London.
Panama enjoys a lively mix of cultural influences, expressed in the country’s cuisine, artwork, music, and literature. Its capital, Panama City, is located on the Pacific coast just east of the canal. A cosmopolitan city where skyscrapers tower above whitewashed bungalows, it enjoys a handsome setting and a growing importance as a commercial and financial services centre for the region. However, its economic progress has been hampered periodically by environmental problems and political turmoil.
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