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.
Since the end of Manuel Noriega's military dictatorship in 1989, Panama has successfully completed five peaceful transfers of power to opposing political factions. The political landscape is dominated by two major parties and many smaller parties, many of which are driven by individual leaders more than ideologies. Former President Martín Torrijos is the son of general Omar Torrijos. He succeeded Mireya Moscoso, the widow of Arnulfo Arias. Panama's most recent national elections occurred on May 4, 2014, with incumbent vice-President Juan Carlos Varela declared the victor. The 2019 Panamanian general election is scheduled for May 5, 2019, with current President Juan Carlos Varela being ineligible due to constitutional limits for a second term.
The PRD's Martin Torrijos won the presidency and a legislative majority in the National Assembly in 2004. Torrijos ran his campaign on a platform of, among other pledges, a "zero tolerance" for corruption, a problem endemic to the Moscoso and Perez Balladares administrations. After taking office, Torrijos passed a number of laws which made the government more transparent. He formed a National Anti-Corruption Council whose members represented the highest levels of government and civil society, labor organizations, and religious leadership. In addition, many of his closest Cabinet ministers were non-political technocrats known for their support for the Torrijos government's anti-corruption aims. Despite the Torrijos administration's public stance on corruption, many high-profile cases,[clarification needed] particularly involving political or business elites, were never acted upon.
In 1981 Torrijos died in a plane crash. Torrijos' death altered the tone of Panama's political evolution. Despite the 1983 constitutional amendments which proscribed a political role for the military, the Panama Defense Force (PDF), as they were then known, continued to dominate Panamanian political life. By this time, General Manuel Antonio Noriega was firmly in control of both the PDF and the civilian government.[when?]
CEO and then Chairman of Citibank (1998–2006) Sanford I. Weill appears in the documents as sole shareholder of April Fool, a company based in the British Virgin Islands that managed a yacht of the same name from 2001–2005. Weill's second company, Brightao, includes Chinese and American investors and holds share in a Chinese insurance and risk-management firm, Mingya Insurance Brokers.
Featuring 27 miles of white sand beaches along the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Panama City Beach is home to two State Parks, dozens of public beach access points, waterfront restaurants that serve up fresh local seafood, and legendary attractions. The waters at Panama City Beach are famous with fishermen and scuba divers who enjoy the benefits of dozens artificial reefs located offshore, and with a coastline that angles slightly toward the west, in Panama City Beach you can watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico every day of the year.
The rainy season usually starts off in mid-May. At that point sporadic rain showers begin during the afternoon and evening hours. As the days pass the rain increases in duration, amounts, and evenings are full of wonderful thunderstorms and beautiful lightening. In the mountain areas flash flooding can suddenly occur during these months. During the rainy season day time temperatures are about 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the dry season but the humidity is much higher. The rainiest month is November but by mid-December the rain is completely gone in most of Panama on the Pacific side.
Other uses are more ambiguous. Chinese companies may incorporate offshore in order to raise foreign capital, normally against the law in China. In some of the world's hereditary dictatorships, the law may be on the side of the elite who use offshore companies to award oil contracts to themselves, or gold concessions to their children, however such dealings are sometimes prosecuted under international law.
The longest highway in the world, the Pan-American Highway is 19,000 miles stretching from Alaska to Panama. The highway is interrupted in Panama in the province of the Darien Gap by 100 miles of swampland and thick forested jungles which is home to indigenous tribes. The highway continues on the Colombia side for another 11,000 miles ending in Ushuaia, Argentina.
Former IMF president Rodrigo Rato, vice-president in the conservative government of prime minister José María Aznar, had more than €3.6 million in two offshore companies. He has been charged by Spain with alleged tax offenses, money laundering and corruption among individuals in other cases of corruption. Micaela Domecq-Solís, the wife of Miguel Arias Cañete, currently the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy and formerly the EU Minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment, also opened shell societies.
Leaked documents examined by the ABC "pierced the veil of anonymous shell companies" and linked a Sydney businessman and a Brisbane geologist to mining deals in North Korea. "Rather than applying sanctions, the Australian Government and the ASX seem to have allowed a coach and horses to be ridden through them by the people involved in forming this relationship, corporate relationship with one of the primary arms manufacturers in North Korea," said Thomas Clark of the University of Technology Sydney.
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.
The Panama Papers are 11.5 million leaked documents that detail financial and attorney–client information for more than 214,488 offshore entities. The documents, some dating back to the 1970s, were created by, and taken from, Panamanian law firm and corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca, and were leaked in 2015 by an anonymous source.
On December 12, 2014, José Hawilla, the owner and founder of the Traffic Group, the Brazilian sports marketing conglomerate, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to a four-count information charging him with racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Hawilla also agreed to forfeit over $151 million, $25 million of which was paid at the time of his plea.
Additional stories were released based on this data, and the full list of companies was released in early May 2016. 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. 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.
Ouestaf, an ICIJ partner in the investigation, reported that it had discovered new evidence that Karim Wade received payments from DP World (DP). He and a long-time friend were convicted of this in a trial that the United Nations and Amnesty International said was unfair and violated the defendants' rights. The Ouestaf article does not address the conduct of the trial, but does say that Ouestaf journalists found Mossack Fonseca documents showing payments to Wade via a DP subsidiary and a shell company registered to the friend.
Citing leaked diplomatic cables, Fortune writer Chris Matthews speculated that Obama and Clinton may have supported the agreement, after opposing it while campaigning for office, because it was a quid pro quo for Panamanian support of US efforts against drug trafficking. In any event, he notes, while it is true that the agreement abolished limits on fund transfers between the US and Panama, the Obama administration insisted that the two countries first sign a Tax Information and Exchange Agreement as well, which facilitated the exchange of tax information between the countries.
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. CEO David McKay said the bank will review the four decades of documentation for any problems. 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," 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.
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.
Thousands of mentions of Donald Trump. Several "Trump" companies mentioned in the Panama Papers have completely different principals, such as "a young woman whose LinkedIn profile describes her as merchandising supervisor at a small clothing retailer" in Palembang, Indonesia. The "Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower Panama" mentioned in the papers "is not owned, developed or sold by Donald J. Trump, the Trump Organization or any of their principals or affiliates", according to the resort website.
Schembri, a businessman who managed the electoral campaign of the Labour Party in the 2013 Maltese general elections, and serves as chief of staff to Muscat, was reported to hold an offshore company based in the British Virgin Islands, and owns an anonymous shell company in Panama, called Tillgate Inc, held by a trust established for him in New Zealand. Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri acquired their shell companies in Panama, Hearnville Inc and Tillgate Inc respectively, via the Mossack Fonseca representatives in Malta, who also tried to open bank accounts linked to the two shell companies of the two politically exposed persons in various jurisdictions. The owner of a third anonymous shell company in Panama, Egrant Inc, whose existence was revealed in the same document referring to the other two companies, remains unknown, although the strict secrecy observed in its acquisition, including the avoidance of e-mail communications and the utilization of communications via Skype, have fuelled strong suspicions that a third top Maltese politically exposed person is involved.
The United States State Department does not recommend traveling outside of the city due to the lack of accessibility to some areas and the prevalence of organized crime. Within the city, the State Department acknowledges the presence of crimes in the city, some of which include violent acts such as shootings, rape, armed robbery, and intentional kidnapping. The United States State Department also warns tourists about the purchasing of counterfeited or pirated goods, as they may be in violation of local Panamanian laws. In terms of LGBT rights in the city, same sex marriage is not recognized by the government but there are laws in place to prevent discrimination against the LGBT community.
A project to build a third set of locks for the Panama Canal A was overwhelmingly approved in a referendum (with low voter turnout, however) on October 22, 2006. The official estimated cost of the project is US$5.25 billion, but the canal is of major economic importance because it provides millions of dollars of toll revenue to the national economy and provides massive employment. Transfer of control of the Canal to the Panamanian government completed in 1999, after 85 years of US control.
Because of the city's position on St. Andrews Bay, bridges are very important to the area, and most directions into or out of the city require the use of one of three large bridges to cross parts of the bay. These are the Bailey Bridge to the north on Hwy 77, the Dupont Bridge to the south on Hwy 98 and the Hathaway Bridge to the west on Hwy 98. The largest of these is the Hathaway Bridge, which is the only direct connection between the beach side of Panama City, otherwise known as Panama City Beach .
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.
"This is a unique opportunity to test the effectiveness of leaktivism", said Micah White, co-founder of Occupy, "... the Panama Papers are being dissected via an unprecedented collaboration between hundreds of highly credible international journalists who have been working secretly for a year. This is the global professionalization of leaktivism. The days of WikiLeaks amateurism are over."