The home of several Native American peoples, such as the Guaymí, Kuna, and Chocó, Panama became the first Spanish colony on the Pacific. Celebrated as “the door to the seas and key to the universe,” it served in the 1530s as the staging point for the Spanish conquest of the Inca empire, and until the 19th century it was a transshipment point for gold and silver destined for Spain. With the independence of Colombia, which once controlled Panama, from Spain, Panama came to serve as another staging point, this time for oceangoing migrants to the gold fields of California.
The 2012 investigation's reporters, established that Globex was owned through shell companies in Panama, and that these shell companies belonged to the president's daughters and a Swiss businessman whose name appears in other shell companies such as those that manage Azerphone, the family telecommunications monopoly. Villagers told reporters they hoped to work at the mine, which paid $12 a day, and asked them to intervene with the president about the problems the mine was causing with the water supply. They became angry and did not believe the reporters when they said the president's family had a stake in the mine.[327]
Panama is an important country for many reasons. Considered an isthmus (a narrow strip of land with sea on either side, forming a link between two larger areas of land), it became a land bridge approximately 2.8 million years ago connecting both the North America and South America continents. Over time this formation affected the biodiversity of the world enabling animals to migrate from north to south, changing the weather patterns across the world, even in Europe. The development of the isthmus created the Gulf Stream which gives definition to rainfall amounts, temperatures, tides, and climates for the region.
The Panama Free Trade Agreement, supported by Obama and Clinton, has been accused of enabling the practices detailed within the Panama Papers through regulatory oversight.[416] However, an Obama administration official said the argument has "zero merit".[417] John Cassidy of The New Yorker, said the Panama Free Trade Agreement actually forced Panama to release information to the American regulatory authorities on "the ownership of companies, partnerships, trusts, foundations, and other persons".[418]
According to the Panama Papers, Zimplats Holdings, a large platinum mining concern, set up a shell company to pay the salaries of its senior managers. Zimplats denies knowledge of the company, HR Consultancy.[485] The company, which was still active in 2015, was unknown to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,[485] which may indicate externalization of funds and tax evasion if, as it appears, the salaries were for citizens of Zimbabwe performing work in Zimbabwe.[485]
On April 8, President Varela denounced France's proposal to return Panama to a list of countries that did not cooperate with information exchange.[133] Minister of the Presidency Alvaro Alemán categorically denied that Panama is a tax haven, and said the country would not be a scapegoat.[134] Alemán said that talks with the French ambassador to Panama had begun.[134]
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]

National elections are universal and mandatory for all citizens 18 years and older. National elections for the executive and legislative branches take place every five years. Members of the judicial branch (justices) are appointed by the head of state. Panama's National Assembly is elected by proportional representation in fixed electoral districts, so many smaller parties are represented. Presidential elections requires a simple majority; out of the five last presidents only ex-president Ricardo Martinelli has managed to be elected with over 50 percent of the popular vote.[51]
The National Mineral Agency (NMA) until 2005 valued diamonds for export using a price book based on 1996 figures. Companies also often seek to minimize the value of their diamond exports to reduce taxes and move profits abroad. Once transferred to a subsidiary elsewhere where their value is not taxed, the same diamonds are frequently worth more.[18]

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.
In April 2019, the ICIJ and European newspapers reported that the global tally of such payments exceeded one billion USD, and is now at 1.2 billion. In comparison, Great Britain recovered the largest position (253 million), followed by Denmark (237 million), Germany (183 million), Spain (164 million), France (136 million) and Australia (93 million). Colombia with 89 million recuperated the highest amount for South and Central American countries, which were heavily involved in the financial scandal. While investigations are ongoing in Austria, Canada and Switzerland, and more payments are to be expected, many countries are conducting continued inspections of companies and private individuals revealed in the report.[504][505]
Khulubuse Zuma, nephew of South African President Jacob Zuma, has links in the documents to an offshore company with oil interests in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has denied any wrongdoing.[441] According to leaked documents President Zuma also has ties to an oil mining deal between a British Virgin Islands-based oil company, Caprikat Limited, and Joseph Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and helped Caprikat obtain oil fields in the DRC then sent his nephew to the DRC to run the firm.[442]
The city's main retail center was the Panama City Mall until it was permanently closed after Hurricane Michael. It may be turned into an outdoor mall, but this has not been officially confirmed. Another local retail center is the Bay City Pointe, on FL 368 (locally known as 23rd St.), which is still under construction but partially open. Pier Park, on the beach across the Hathaway Bridge spanning St. Andrews Bay, is a third local retail center.

The high levels of Panamanian trade are in large part from the Colón Free Trade Zone, the largest free trade zone in the Western Hemisphere. Last year the zone accounted for 92 percent of Panama's exports and 64 percent of its imports, according to an analysis of figures from the Colon zone management and estimates of Panama's trade by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. Panama's economy is also very much supported by the trade and export of coffee and other agricultural products.[citation needed]
According to the Panama Papers, Kabila's twin sister owns part of an offshore company with interests in Congo that include a part of mobile-phone company Vodacom Congo. The government called a press conference to warn journalists against printing the names of any Congolese figures that might appear in the documents.[441] Kabila's sister, Jaynet Désirée Kabila Kyungu and Feruzi Kalume Nyembwe, an advisor to their late father and former president Laurent-Désiré Kabila are both directors of Keratsu Holding Limited, a company registered in Niue through Mossack Fonseca a few months after the elder Kabila's assassination.[439] Keratsu held 19.6% of the shares in Congolese Wireless Network, which held 49% of Vodacom Congo.[439]
"The most obvious use of offshore financial centers is to avoid taxes", The Economist added.[32] Oxfam blamed tax havens in its 2016 annual report on income inequality for much of the widening gap between rich and poor. "Tax havens are at the core of a global system that allows large corporations and wealthy individuals to avoid paying their fair share," said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, "depriving governments, rich and poor, of the resources they need to provide vital public services and tackle rising inequality."[34]

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]
Following the May publication of this report, the National Assembly passed a law making it illegal to report company ownership[331] and another giving former presidents and first ladies lifelong legal immunity.[332] Khadija Ismayilova, the Radio Free Europe reporter on the 2012 investigation was subjected to escalating legal and public harassment. She was threatened and eventually arrested. She is currently serving a 7.5 year sentence for tax evasion and abuse of power.[333]
Gerard Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, called the leak "probably the biggest blow the offshore world has ever taken because of the extent of the documents".[76] Edward Snowden described the release in a Twitter message as the "biggest leak in the history of data journalism".[77] The ICIJ also said that the leak was "likely to be one of the most explosive [leaks of inside information in history] in the nature of its revelations".[78]
The end of the encomienda system in Azuero, however, sparked the conquest of Veraguas in that same year. Under the leadership of Francisco Vázquez, the region of Veraguas passed into Castilian rule in 1558. In the newly conquered region, the old system of encomienda was imposed. On the other hand, the Panamanian movement for independence can be indirectly attributed to the abolition of the encomienda system in the Azuero Peninsula, set forth by the Spanish Crown, in 1558 because of repeated protests by locals against the mistreatment of the native population. In its stead, a system of medium and smaller-sized landownership was promoted, thus taking away the power from the large landowners and into the hands of medium and small-sized proprietors.
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]

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.


Canadians for Tax Fairness had calculated that legal tax avoidance by corporations alone cost the Canadian treasury almost $8 billion Canadian a year.[401] When it calculated the 2015 numbers, they found that corporations and individuals combined sent CAN$40 billion of declared assets to tax havens, and the ten most popular alone now held $270 billion Canadian in assets.[402]
You don't have to make it all the way to the Darién to get off the beaten path – though if you do, you've hit one of the most biodiverse spots on the planet. Go where the wild things are. Soak in the spray of towering waterfalls near highland Santa Fé. Visit one of Panama's seven indigenous groups through community tourism. Live out your castaway fantasies in the Guna Yala or idle on a wilderness beach in Península de Azuero. Howl back at the creatures sharing the canopy. Panama is as wild as you want it to be.

Prime Minister John Key responded May 7 to John Doe's remark that he had been "curiously quiet" about tax evasion in the Cook Islands by saying that the whistleblower was confused and probably European. While the Cook Islands use New Zealand currency, "I have as much responsibility for tax in the Cook Islands as I do for taxing Russia." New Zealand does represent the Cook Islands on defence and foreign policy, but not taxation, he said.[495]


Perez Balladares ran as the candidate for a three-party coalition dominated by the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), the erstwhile political arm of military dictatorships. Perez Balladares worked skillfully during the campaign to rehabilitate the PRD's image, emphasizing the party's populist Torrijos roots rather than its association with Noriega. He won the election with only 33 percent of the vote when the major non-PRD forces splintered into competing factions. His administration carried out economic reforms and often worked closely with the US on implementation of the Canal treaties.[citation needed]

The city has both public and private schools. Most of the private schools are at least bilingual. Higher education is headed by the two major public universities: the University of Panama and the Technological University of Panama. There are private universities, such as the Universidad Católica Santa María La Antigua, the Universidad Latina de Panama, the Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnología (ULACIT), the Distance and Open University of Panama (UNADP), Universidad del Istmo Panama, the Universidad Maritima Internacional de Panama, and the Universidad Especializada de las Americas. Also, there are Panama Branches of the Nova Southeastern University (its main campus is in Ft. Lauderdale in Broward County, Florida); the University of Oklahoma; the Central Texas University; the University of Louisville which runs a sister campus in the city,[36] and the Florida State University, which operates a broad curriculum program[37] in an academic and technological park known as Ciudad del Saber.
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