Nearly 500 rivers lace Panama's rugged landscape. Mostly unnavigable, many originate as swift highland streams, meander in valleys, and form coastal deltas. However, the Río Chagres (Chagres River), located in central Panama, is one of the few wide rivers and a source of hydroelectric power. The central part of the river is dammed by the Gatun Dam and forms Gatun Lake, an artificial lake that constitutes part of the Panama Canal. The lake was created by the construction of the Gatun Dam across the Río Chagres between 1907 and 1913. Once created, Gatun Lake was the largest man-made lake in the world, and the dam was the largest earth dam. The river drains northwest into the Caribbean. The Kampia and Madden Lakes (also filled from the Río Chagres) provide hydroelectricity for the area of the former Canal Zone.
As the Spanish American wars of independence were heating up all across Latin America, Panama City was preparing for independence; however, their plans were accelerated by the unilateral Grito de La Villa de Los Santos (Cry From the Town of Saints), issued on November 10, 1821, by the residents of Azuero without backing from Panama City to declare their separation from the Spanish Empire. In both Veraguas and the capital this act was met with disdain, although on differing levels. To Veraguas, it was the ultimate act of treason, while to the capital, it was seen as inefficient and irregular, and furthermore forced them to accelerate their plans.
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.[citation needed] 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.
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.

Investigations by ICIJ's sole East Asian partner CommonWealth Magazine in Taiwan found that at least 2,725 offshore companies had registered addresses in Taiwan. Ninety Taiwanese, including the singer and actor Nicky Wu, were included in the papers.[387] According to a report released by CommonWealth Magazine, Wu used the firm Horizon Sky Technology, Ltd. to co-operate with Hong Kong-based Sun Entertainment Culture Limited (zh).[388]


Panama was under Spanish rule for almost 300 years (1538–1821), and became part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, along with all other Spanish possessions in South America. From the outset, Panamanian identity was based on a sense of "geographic destiny", and Panamanian fortunes fluctuated with the geopolitical importance of the isthmus. The colonial experience spawned Panamanian nationalism and a racially complex and highly stratified society, the source of internal conflicts that ran counter to the unifying force of nationalism.[19][page needed]
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]

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 beaches and sunsets highlight the city's natural beauty with places to visit including St. Andrews State Park, Conservation Park, and Shell Island. Dolphin watching, golfing, and fishing are top activities, while sights to visit include Signal Hill Golf Course, Signal Hill Country Club, and Hombre Golf Club. Other notable sights to explore include Gulf World Marine Park and Pier Park.
The OECD, the G20, or the European Union could also institute another list for countries that are inadequate in more than one area. Countries meeting none of these criteria, such as Panama, Vanuatu and Lebanon, would go on the blacklist. Countries that meet only one criterion would go on the greylist.[51] In April 2016, if this greylist had been in place it would have included nine countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Brunei, Dominica, Liberia, Nauru, Samoa, Tobago and the United Arab Emirates.[51]
According to the ICIJ, Aliyev's daughter Arzu not only has financial stakes not only in gold rights but also in Azerfon, the country's largest mobile phone business. She has shares in SW Holding, which "controls nearly every operation related to Azerbaijan Airlines" (Azal), from meals to airport taxis. Both sisters and their brother Heydar own property in Dubai valued at roughly $75 million in 2010; Heydar is the legal owner of nine luxury mansions in Dubai purchased for some $44 million.[334]
Anti-corruption group Transparency International believes that the "creation of businesses while serving as president is a direct violation of the constitution".[296] Also, journalists from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project believe that with the move Poroshenko committed two other illegalities, starting a new business while in office and failing afterwards to report it on his disclosure statements.[296] Poroshenko denied any wrongdoing and a spokesman said the offshore company had no active assets and was a legitimate corporate restructure aimed at helping to sell Poroshenko's Roshen group.[296] Analysts in Ukraine responded that the secretive way Poroshenko set up these accounts was certain to undermine trust in him, his party and Ukraine itself.[297]

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]


Paralleling the principal mountain chains, a lower mountain arc extends along Panama’s southern coast. It appears only in well-separated segments—for example, on Azuero Peninsula as the Canajagua Massif and in eastern Panama as the Sierra de Jungurudó, Sapo Mountains, and the Majé Mountains. The highlands and mountains are made up primarily of igneous (volcanic) rocks.
Eduardo Morgan of the Panamanian firm Morgan & Morgan accused the OECD of starting the scandal to avoid competition from Panama with the interests of other countries.[138] The Panama Papers affect the image of Panama in an unfair manner and have come to light not as the result of an investigation, but of a hack, said Adolfo Linares, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap).[139]
In 2008–2009, the Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR) and its owner Beny Steinmetz paid just $165 million for the mining rights to the northern portion of Simandou mine, located in the Nzérékoré region of Guinea's interior. Soon after, he sold 51 percent of the rights to Vale for $2.5 billion. Rio Tinto, which had previously held the concession, had invested $450 million into infrastructure at the site.[458] Global Witness says BSGR in fact paid nothing for the rights, and the $165 million represents BSGR's self-reported investment in improvements at the site. It adds that either way BSGR's profit exceeded the national budget of Guinea.[459]
Central Bank of Cyprus officially declared: "With regard to press reports citing leaked documents, known as the Panama Papers, the Central Bank of Cyprus announces that it is assessing the information to the extent that it may concern the Cypriot banking system and taking, where necessary, appropriate action."[180] A Cypriot online paper said "The Cyprus link stems from the fact that Fonseca runs an office in Cyprus and, more specifically, in Limassol. In a chart, the leaks name Cyprus as a tax haven (countries that offer little or no tax), although it has a corporate tax rate of 12.5%, the same as Ireland."[180]
Sri Lankan Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said his panel will investigate Sri Lankan names that come up in the Panama Papers, as well as the 46 who appear in the 2013 Offshore Leaks, according to the Daily Mail, since earlier leadership apparently did not do so. The country has many large outstanding foreign loans taken out under the administration of former president Mahinda Rajapakse, and the current government recently had to obtain a US$1.5 billion IMF bailout. Rajapakse has denied diverting funds. The current government came to power in January 2016 on an anti-corruption platform.[382]
Panama still has a reputation worldwide for being a tax haven but has agreed to enhanced transparency, especially since the release in 2016 of the Panama Papers. Significant progress has been made to improve full compliance with anti-money laundering recommendations. Panama was removed from the FATFGAFI gray list in February 2016. However efforts remain to be made, and the IMF repeatedly mentions the need to strengthen financial transparency and fiscal structure.[60]
Mossack Fonseca's Hong Kong office was its busiest, says the ICIJ, as Chinese officials and other wealthy figures would carry funds across the border and deposit them there to be channeled to offshore entities.[28] Hong Kong invested HK$4.6 trillion (£360 billion) into the BVI – more than Hong Kong invested in mainland China – and received HK$4.1 trillion (over £300 billion) from the BVI. A further £20 billion or so was placed into the Cayman Islands and Bermuda individually.[339]
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]

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.
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.
Panama still has a reputation worldwide for being a tax haven but has agreed to enhanced transparency, especially since the release in 2016 of the Panama Papers. Significant progress has been made to improve full compliance with anti-money laundering recommendations. Panama was removed from the FATFGAFI gray list in February 2016. However efforts remain to be made, and the IMF repeatedly mentions the need to strengthen financial transparency and fiscal structure.[60]
In 2015, Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) was contacted by an anonymous source calling him or herself "John Doe," who offered to leak the documents. Doe did not demand any financial compensation in return, according to the SZ. The total volume of data comes to about 2.76 terabytes, making it the biggest data leak in history. The data pertains to the period spanning from the 1970s to the spring of 2016.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has denied any involvement in the affair, saying he had "entirely and completely been transparent about mine and my family's finances. That is something I learned early on that Canadians expect from their leaders."[392] Canada Revenue Agency said in a statement that its current tax evasion audits include "some Canadian clients associated with law firm Mossack Fonseca,"[393] and added that it would "communicate" with its treaty partners to obtain any further information that may not currently be in its possession." The CRA has tax treaties with 92 different countries and 22 Tax Information Exchange Agreements.[392][393] The CRA has begun or completed 116 audits and 234 more are planned. These investigations are expected to recoup at least $11 million in taxes and fines. Fewer than 10 related criminal investigations are in progress. [394]
Panama City is located at 30°10′28″N 85°39′52″W (30.174451, -85.664480)[10] within the Florida Panhandle and along the Emerald Coast. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city limits encompass an area of 35.4 square miles (91.8 km2), of which 29.3 square miles (75.8 km2) is land and 6.2 square miles (16.0 km2), or 17.39%, is water.[11]

President Barack Obama addressed the overseas shell companies listed by the leak in a press conference: "It's not that they're breaking the laws," he said, "it's that the laws are so poorly designed that they allow people, if they've got enough lawyers and enough accountants, to wiggle out of responsibilities that ordinary citizens are having to abide by."[420] Although no leader in the US was mentioned in the Panama Papers, Obama said that "Frankly, folks in America are taking advantage of the same stuff".[421]
Private Eye revealed that Edward Troup, appointed executive chair of HMRC in April 2016, was a former partner with Simmons & Simmons, the London-based legal firm whose clients included the Panama-registered fund created by David Cameron's father, Blairmore Holdings.[318][319] Papers obtained by the Süddeutsche Zeitung and ICIJ reveal Simmons & Simmons' close relationship with running offshore companies and major overseas property owners, including an investment company run on behalf of Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani, while Troup was its senior tax partner.[320]
The Irish Times newspaper handled the Irish component of the leak. Prominent Irish names listed included golfer Pádraig Harrington, property developer Sean Mulryan and the manager of Irish rock group U2, Paul McGuinness.[203] The lists also included Stanley Watson, a senior partner of Ireland's largest tax-law firm, Matheson, who have led the creation of many of the Irish corporate tax management tools used by US multinationals in Ireland to avoid billions in US taxes.[204] The list also included Irish Fine Gael political advisor, Frank Flannery.[205]
The terminal ports located at each end of the Panama Canal, namely the Port of Cristóbal, Colón and the Port of Balboa, are ranked second and third respectively in Latin America in terms of numbers of containers units (TEU) handled.[48] The Port of Balboa covers 182 hectares and contains four berths for containers and two multi-purpose berths. In total, the berths are over 2,400 metres (7,900 feet) long with alongside depth of 15 metres (49 feet). The Port of Balboa has 18 super post-Panamax and Panamax quay cranes and 44 gantry cranes. The Port of Balboa also contains 2,100 square metres (23,000 square feet) of warehouse space.[49]
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.
In response to queries from the Miami Herald and ICIJ, Mossack Fonseca issued a 2,900-word statement listing legal requirements that prevent using offshore companies for tax avoidance and total anonymity, such as FATF protocols which require identifying ultimate beneficial owners of all companies (including offshore companies) before opening any account or transacting any business.
In 2018, investigative media Bivol.bg accessed the Panama Papers under an agreement with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.[175] Later, they published a story about the offshore company Viafot which is attempting to acquire a key asset of Bulgaria's defense industry: the arms producer Dunarit.[176] The Panama Papers show that Viafot is owned by Alexander Angelov who is the lawyer of media mogul Delyan Peevski. Other Bulgarian media had reported how all state institutions help Viafot acquire Dunarit through illegitimate means.[177][178] However, no inquiry was opened by Bulgaria's General Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov.
The Río Chagres is one of the longest and most vital of the approximately 150 rivers that flow into the Caribbean. Part of this river was dammed to create Gatun Lake, which forms a major part of the transit route between the locks near each end of the canal. Both Gatun Lake and Madden Lake (also filled with water from the Río Chagres) provide hydroelectricity to the former Canal Zone area. The Río Chepo, another major source of hydroelectric power, is one of the more than 300 rivers emptying into the Pacific.
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]
Tourism is one of the most important economic activities in terms of revenue generation. This sector of the economy has seen a great deal of growth since the transfer of the Panama Canal Zone at the end of the twentieth century. The number of hotel rooms increased by more than ten-fold, from 1,400 in 1997 to more than 15,000 in 2013, while the number of annual visitors increased from 457,000 in 1999 to 1.4 million in 2011.[18] The city's hotel occupancy rate has always been relatively high, reaching the second highest for any city outside the United States in 2008, after Perth, Australia, and followed by Dubai.[19] However, hotel occupancy rates have dropped since 2009, probably due to the opening of many new luxury hotels.[20] Several international hotel chains, such as Le Méridien, Radisson, and RIU, have opened or plan to open new hotels in the city,[21] along with those previously operating under Marriott, Sheraton, InterContinental, and other foreign and local brands. The Trump Organization built the Trump Ocean Club, its first investment in Latin America,[22] in 2006 and it is the tallest building in the city. In 2018 it was renamed The Bahia Grand Panama following falling occupancy rates associated with the declining brand value of the Trump name.[23] Hilton Worldwide opened a Hilton Garden Inn in El Cangrejo, and in 2013, The Panamera, the second Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Latin America.[24]
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