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.
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.
Individuals and entities may open offshore accounts for any number of reasons, some of which are legal but ethically questionable. A Canadian lawyer based in Dubai noted, for example, that businesses might wish to avoid falling under Islamic inheritance jurisprudence if an owner dies. Businesses in some countries may wish to hold some of their funds in dollars also, said a Brazilian lawyer. Estate planning is another example of legal tax avoidance.
In addition to these tourist attractions, Panama City offers many different options when it comes to hotel accommodations, including the first Waldorf Astoria hotel to open in Latin America, and many small boutique style hotels that have smaller numbers of guest rooms and offer a more intimate vacation. Nightlife in the city is centered around the Calle Uruguay and Casco Viejo neighborhoods. These neighborhoods contain a variety of different bars and nightclubs that cater to the tourists visiting the city.
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.
Located at the tip of the Azuero Peninsula, Pedasi is a quaint unassuming beach town with a pristine downtown area. The expat community numbers several hundred within the total population of just under 5,000. This expat community is growing as visitors have discovered this treasured jewel. Not much further down the two-lane road is Playa Venao, one of Panama’s best surfing beaches.
In 2010, it was estimated that 94.1 percent of the population was literate (94.7 percent of males and 93.5 percent of females). Education in Panama is compulsory for the children between 6 and 18. In recent decades, school enrollment at all levels, but especially at upper levels, has increased significantly. Panama used to participate in the PISA exams but due to debts and unsatisfactory exam results is postponing participation until 2018.
Tourism in Panama is rapidly growing. It has maintained its growth over the past five years due to government tax and price discounts to foreign guests and retirees. These economic incentives have caused Panama to be regarded as a relatively good place to retire. Real estate developers in Panama have increased the number of tourism destinations in the past five years because of interest in these visitor incentives.
The city proper has approximately 880,691 inhabitants in 23 boroughs. The inhabitants of Panama City are commonly referred to as capitalinos and include large numbers of Afro-Panamanians, mestizos, and mulattos, with notable white and Asian minorities. There is a great deal of cultural diversity within the city, which manifests itself in the wide variety of languages commonly spoken, such as German, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew and English, in addition to Spanish.
In 2018, investigative media Bivol.bg accessed the Panama Papers under an agreement with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. 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. 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. However, no inquiry was opened by Bulgaria's General Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov.
Panama, Vanuatu and Lebanon may find themselves on a list of uncooperative tax havens that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) re-activated in July 2016 at the request of G20 nations, warned Le Monde, a French newspaper that participated in the investigation. Those three countries followed none of the OECD's three broad guidelines for international banking cooperation:
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. 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.
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. 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. However, hotel occupancy rates have dropped since 2009, probably due to the opening of many new luxury hotels. Several international hotel chains, such as Le Méridien, Radisson, and RIU, have opened or plan to open new hotels in the city, 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, 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. Hilton Worldwide opened a Hilton Garden Inn in El Cangrejo, and in 2013, The Panamera, the second Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Latin America.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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, and the Florida State University, which operates a broad curriculum program in an academic and technological park known as Ciudad del Saber.
Among those indicted were Jeffrey Webb and Jack Warner, the current and former presidents of CONCACAF, the continental confederation under FIFA headquartered in the United States. They were charged with racketeering and bribery offenses. Others were US and South American sports marketing executives who paid and agreed to pay well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks.
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.
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.
The firm won’t discuss specific cases of alleged wrongdoing, citing client confidentiality. But it robustly defends its conduct. Mossack Fonseca says it complies with anti-money-laundering laws and carries out thorough due diligence on all its clients. It says it regrets any misuse of its services and tries actively to prevent it. The firm says it cannot be blamed for failings by intermediaries, who include banks, law firms and accountants.
According to ICIJ investigative partner Trinidad Express, Emrith was a close associate of Jack Warner and also owns half the shares in Proteus Holding SA, an investment he refuses to discuss because he says he has a responsibility of confidentiality to fellow shareholders. The Express also says that OAS used a Namibian port development project as camouflage for a $1 million payment from Procopio shell company Santa Tereza Services Ltd to Emirth.
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.
Many leaked documents reference Bank Leumi, primarily its branch on the island tax haven of Jersey. One of its customers, billionaire Teddy Sagi, made his fortune developing online gambling technology in England and recently developed the Camden Market commercial real estate space. Sagi is sole shareholder of at least 16 Mossack Fonseca offshore companies, mostly real estate ventures.
According to Forbes, "Hinojosa and other prominent Mexicans, mostly businessmen with close ties to the government, including at least one member of the Forbes billionaires list, were the subject of extensive articles published online by ICIJ investigation partners Proceso and Aristegui Noticias Sunday." Proceso also said that the Mexicans mentioned in the leaked documents included individuals linked to drug cartels.
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. Opponents also called for Cameron's resignation after he admitted owning shares in Blairmore.
The development in this once unincorporated part of Northwest Florida had previous names such as Floriopolis, Park Resort, and Harrison. In 1906, the development was named Panama City and it was first incorporated as Panama City in 1909. When Panama City was incorporated in 1909, its original city limits were 15th Street (Hwy 98) on the north, Balboa Avenue on the west and Bay Avenue on the east. According to the Panama City Public Library's A History of Panama City, George Mortimer West hoped to spur real estate development in Bay County during a period of intense popular interest in the construction of the Panama Canal by changing the town's name from Harrison to Panama City, because a straight line between Chicago and the capital of the Central American country of Panama intersected the Florida town. Additionally, since required meanders around land formations in a seaborne route to the canal added distance when starting at other ports, Panama City was the closest developed port in the US mainland to the Caribbean entrance of the Panama Canal.
An investigation by ICIJ partner The Namibian found that the imprisoned mafioso Vito Roberto Palazzolo shielded his finances from Italian, Namibian and South African authorities with shell companies in the British Virgin Islands set up by a German banker in Hong Kong, Wolf-Peter Berthold, which they also used to transfer control of Palazzolo's assets to his son.
Law firms play a central role in offshore financial operations. Mossack Fonseca is one of the biggest in its field and the biggest financial institutions refer customers to it. Its services to clients include incorporating and operating shell companies in friendly jurisdictions on their behalf. They can include creating "complex shell company structures" that, while legal, also allow the firm's clients "to operate behind an often impenetrable wall of secrecy". The leaked papers detail some of their intricate, multilevel, and multinational corporate structures. Mossack Fonseca has acted with global consultancy partners like Emirates Asset Management Ltd, Ryan Mohanlal Ltd, Sun Hedge Invest and Blue Capital Ltd on behalf of more than 300,000 companies, most of them registered in the British Overseas Territories.
Since the end of the 20th century, association football has become more popular in Panama. 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.