A diverse multicultural city of almost 1.3 million, Panama City offers a lot more than an up-close view of the Canal. Shantytowns slink up alongside shiny high-rise condos. The Old City is an atmospheric labyrinth of churches, plazas and palaces. Fifteen miles from downtown Panama City, Soberania National Park is an excellent destination for hiking and birding. For a fascinating look at the canal, take a taxi or local bus to Miraflores Locks Visitor Center and look down on the traffic below.
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.
Samina Durrani, mother of Shebaz Sharif's second wife, and Ilyas Mehraj, brother of his first, also figure in the documents. Habib Waqas Group/Ilyas Mehraj is listed as a shareholder with 127,735 shares in Haylandale Limited, registered July 24, 2003 in the Bahamas. Mehraj has denied knowing anything about "any company whether incorporated in the Commonwealth of Bahamas or anywhere else under the name: Haylandale Ltd."[366] Rainbow Limited, the newest of the three offshore companies owned by Samina Durrani, was registered September 29, 2010 in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).[366] Armani River Limited, registered in the Bahamas on May 16, 2002, describes its assets as "property in London, which is not currently rented."[366] Assets of Star Precision Limited, registered in BVI May 21, 1997, were reported as "cash as the investment portfolio. We are also holding 1,165,238 shares in Orix Leasing Pakistan Limited."[366]
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]

What they had counted on, however, was the influence of the separatists in the capital. Ever since October 1821, when the former Governor General, Juan de la Cruz Murgeón, left the isthmus on a campaign in Quito and left a colonel in charge, the separatists had been slowly converting Fábrega to the separatist side. So, by November 10, Fábrega was now a supporter of the independence movement. Soon after the separatist declaration of Los Santos, Fábrega convened every organization in the capital with separatist interests and formally declared the city's support for independence. No military repercussions occurred because of skillful bribing of royalist troops. 

^ MOVIN: an independent political movement based in Panama, focused on influencing and monitoring the independence, efficiency and transparency of government institutions and their management. See "Civil Society | Policy Areas | ERCAS – European Research Centre for Anti-Corruption and State-Building". www.againstcorruption.eu. Archived from the original on November 10, 2016.

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]
Since the end of the 20th century, association football has become more popular in Panama.[citation needed] The top tier of domestic Panamanian football, Liga Panameña de Fútbol, was founded in 1988. The national team appeared at the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 2018, appearing in group G, facing Belgium, England and Tunisia. However, the team lost all three games, failing to advance past the group stage. Notable players for the national team include Luis Ernesto Tapia, Rommel Fernández, the Dely Valdés Brothers: Armando, Julio and Jorge; and more recent players as Jaime Penedo, Felipe Baloy, Luis Tejada, Blas Pérez, Román Torres and Harold Cummings.
Art collectors Marina Ruiz-Picasso and Borja Thyssen have Mossack Fonseca companies. Thyssen's lawyer said his company was fully declared to tax authorities and Ruiz-Picasso declined comment.[269] Other celebrities involved include Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, who won an Oscar in 2003 for Habla con ella and with his brother Agustin created a company in 1991 called Glen Valley in the British Virgin Islands. Agustin responded saying he closed the company in 1994 and it paid all of its taxes.[270]
The current wife of former prime minister of Spain Felipe González, María García Vaquero, opened an account in Switzerland for Carmingo Ltd in 2004 in the tax haven of Niue, an island in the South Pacific.[263] The lawyer Cándido Conde-Pumpido Jr., son of former General Prosecutor of Spain and magistrate of the Supreme Court of Spain, Cándido Conde-Pumpido, asked to open a Mossack Fonseca offshore company in 2008, though the transaction wasn't completed[why?]. He had intended the offshore company to be an intermediary in a project to build a skyscraper in the capital of Panama, not to hide money.[264] 

Newspaper Inkyfada had access to the documents and reported a dozen politicians, former government officials and lawyers had been implicated, as well as a leading media figure. Monday April 4, 2016 it reported that the former secretary-general of the Nidaa Tounes political party, Mohsen Marzouk, who was also the coordinator of the new political party, Machrouu Tounes, was on the point of creating his own account in December 2014, in the first presidential elections. Marzouk had written Mossack Fonseca about a company in the Virgin Islands, emphasizing a desire to hold funds and conduct business overseas. Marzouk denies this and has filed a defamation complaint.[481]
Angola's $5 billion sovereign wealth fund, the Fundo Soberano de Angola (FSDEA), promotes itself as a vehicle of development and prosperity for Angola. The FSDEA is headed by José Filomeno de Sousa "Zenu" dos Santos, the son of President José Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power since 1979. Funded by the state-owned petroleum company Sonangol, the FSDEA has critics who say that its record-keeping is murky and that it seems to engage in nepotism and cronyism.[443]
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]
Panama's international airport, Tocumen International Airport is located on the eastern outskirts of the city's metropolitan area. Two other airports serve Panama City: Panamá Pacífico, previously the Howard Air Force Base, and Marcos A. Gelabert, previously the Albrook Air Force Base. Pacífico serves VivaColombia and Wingo, while Marcos A. Gelabert Airport is the main hub for AirPanama. All other flights are served by Tocumen.
Former French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac, who spearheaded a crackdown on tax fraud while in office, was a client of Mossack Fonseca and through them owned a Seychelles company named Cerman Group Limited, incorporated in 2009. When France investigated 2013 allegations by Mediapart that in 2000 Cahuzac had held undeclared assets in an account first in Switzerland, then Singapore, he resigned his cabinet post, protesting his innocence,[185] but admitted a few months later that he indeed had hidden €600,000 in a UBS account and then moved it to keep it hidden, "while continuing to lead France's clampdown on tax evasion".[186] The French Socialist Party unanimously voted to expel him a week later.[187] On the heels of the April 2013 "Cahuzac affair", President Hollande created the parquet national financier (PNF), a judiciary investigation unit specializing in large-scale fraud and corruption investigations.[188]
More than thirty Costa Rican law firms are mentioned in the Panama Papers as referring clients to Mossack Fonseca, resulting in the creation of more than 360 shell companies. in particular Gonzalo Fajardo & Asociados, founded by former Finance Ministry official and later Economy Minister Gonzalo Fajardo Salas, and over nearly two decades helped Costa Rican companies set up 82 offshore corporations in tax havens, according to DataBaseAR.[403]
The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (FI) has said that "serious deficiencies" exist in how Nordea monitors for money laundering, and had given the bank two warnings. In 2015 Nordea had to pay the largest possible fine—over five million EUR.[280] In 2012 Nordea asked Mossack Fonseca to change documents retroactively so that three Danish customers' power of attorney documents would appear to have been in force since 2010.[280] The director for Nordea Private Banking, Thorben Sanders, has admitted that before 2009 Nordea did not screen for tax evaders: "In the end of 2009 we decided that our bank shall not be a means of tax evasion," said Sanders.[280] Other Swedish banks are also present in the documents, but Nordea occurs 10,902 times and the next most frequently mentioned bank only occurs 764 times.[282] The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (FI) later said that they would also investigate the other three big banks in Sweden: Handelsbanken, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB) and Swedbank.[citation needed]

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]
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.
Indications in the Maltese press of Mizzi's links to an offshore trust[211] did not prevent Mizzi from being elected deputy leader for party affairs of the ruling Labour Party on February 25, 2016, following a change in the party statutes to enable a sitting MP to be appointed. Mizzi stepped down as deputy leader of the Labour Party on April 28, 2016.[212][213][214][215][216][217]
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]
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]
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.
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.
The publisher concludes that: "Taiwanese companies and individuals are believed to be extensively using offshore shelters to avoid or evade taxes ... after scouring the Panama Papers documents that Mossack Fonseca has not been one of their main conduits. This time, it appears that big Taiwanese banks, law firms and accounting firms did not often use the services of Mossack Fonseca, which does not have a presence in Taiwan. The forty-six Taiwanese brokers that did work with Mossack Fonseca were relatively small-scale consulting firms operating in Greater China. Most of the Taiwanese entities that set up shell companies through the Panamanian law firm were small, unlisted companies or individuals."[389]

The Procuraduría de la Nación announced that it would investigate Mossack Fonseca and the Panama papers.[146] On April 12, the newly formed Second Specialized Prosecutor against Organized Crime raided Mossack Fonseca and searched their Bella Vista office as part of the investigation initiated by the Panama Papers. The Attorney General's office issued a press release following the raid, which lasted 27 hours,[147] stating that the purpose was "to obtain documents relevant to the information published in news articles that establishes the possible use of the law firm in illegal activities".[148] The search ended without measures against the law firm, confirmed prosecutor Javier Caraballo of the Second Prosecutor Against Organized Crime.[149]
The Caribbean coastline is marked by several natural harbors. However, Cristóbal, at the Caribbean terminus of the canal, had the only important port facilities in the late 1980s. The numerous islands of the Archipiélago de Bocas del Toro, near the Beaches of Costa Rica, provide an extensive natural roadstead and shield the banana port of Almirante. The more than 350 San Blas Islands near Colombia, are strung out over more than 160 kilometres (99 miles) along the sheltered Caribbean coastline.
Showbiz personality Carmen Lomana said that after the death of her husband, owner of the offshore company, she took care of it but without knowing anything at all about the business or about tax. Bertín Osborne, host and Spanish singer, and the famous actor Imanol Arias, protagonist of one of the longest and most important series of the Spanish television, Cuéntame cómo pasó, were named. Osborne said his account was legal and that he used it as recommended, to save money. He is also involved in a scandal over fraud to the Treasury, with actress and fellow protagonist on the series, Ana Duato. Juan Luis Cebrián, journalist, co-founder of El País, and CEO of Prisa, a Spanish media conglomerate, owns 2% of Star Petroleum, a related oil corporation with tax havens. After being named, he decided to take legal action against La Sexta, who revealed his involvement in this scandal.[271][272][273][274][275][276]

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]


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]
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]
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.[419]

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]
Petroleum Minister José Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos had power of attorney for an offshore company in 2002, when he became petroleum minister after previously being employed for a number of years as an executive at Sonangol,[439] according to the leaked documents. He denies wrongdoing.[441] ICIJ partner Le Monde says it has seen documents that show he was the proxyholder for Medea Investments Limited, founded in Niue in 2001, and moved to Samoa five years later. The company, which issued only bearer bonds, had a capitalization of $1 million, and closed in 2009.[439] He has never previously been accused of corruption.[442]
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.
×