Panama (/ˈpænəmɑː/ (listen) PAN-ə-mah, /pænəˈmɑː/ pan-ə-MAH; Spanish: Panamá IPA: [panaˈma] (listen)), officially the Republic of Panama (Spanish: República de Panamá), is a country in Central America, bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital and largest city is Panama City, whose metropolitan area is home to nearly half the country's 4 million people.
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". Edward Snowden described the release in a Twitter message as the "biggest leak in the history of data journalism". 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".
The Isthmus of Panama was formed about three million years ago when the land bridge between North and South America finally became complete, and plants and animals gradually crossed it in both directions. The existence of the isthmus affected the dispersal of people, agriculture and technology throughout the American continent from the appearance of the first hunters and collectors to the era of villages and cities.
^ Jump up to: a b Michael Daly (April 5, 2016). "Polynesian 'Rock' That Made Millions From Panama Papers' Crooks: How Niue, a coral outcropping with just 1,190 residents, rolled out the welcome mat for Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the center of the massive records leak—and made a tidy profit". Daily Beast. Archived from the original on May 2, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
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, 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". The French Socialist Party unanimously voted to expel him a week later. 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.
The government of Rwanda uses an offshore company to lease a private jet for its senior politicians. Leaked documents show that Brigadier-General Emmanuel Ndahiro, using a London address, become a director of a British Virgin Islands company, Debden Investments Ltd. in 1998, owner of a jet aircraft. Ndahiro, a close advisor of president Paul Kagame, was then spokesman for Kagame's military. According to the Panama Papers the owner of the company was Hatari Sekoko, who ran a number of real estate and hotel ventures such as the Marriott in Kigali.
Prior to the ruling, Maryam Nawaz had tweeted denial of wrongdoing, adding that she did not own "any company/property abroad," except as "a trustee" in a brother's corporation, "which only entitles me to distribute assets to my brother Hussain's family/children if needed." The leaked documents name her as a trustee of Nescoll, created in 1993, and Nielson, first registered in 1994. The two companies subscribed to Mossack Fonseca services in July 2006. Mossack Fonseca was managing Nescoll, Nielsen Holdings, and Coomber Group when the three companies obtained a £7 million mortgage from the Swiss bank, Deutsche Bank (Suisse) SA and purchased four flats in Avenfield House, at 118 Park Lane in London. Hassan, the other brother, bought Hangon Holdings and its stock in 2007 for £5.5 million; Hangon then bought property, financed through the Bank of Scotland, at 1 Hyde Park Place in London.
Overall, I am giving this movie a 7/10 because this is a very important global issue, and this movie is trying to raise awareness of it, so I believe it is a well-intentioned movie. Many of the points raised and the descriptions of the activities of offshore funds shown in the movie are indeed informative and relevant. But my advice is that if you are interested in the Panama Papers themselves, you will have to go to the newspapers and the databases which are publically accesible and do your own research. Sadly, an opportunity to describe and summarize properly this scandal to global audiences is somewhat lost between self-congratulatory interviews to journalists and retellings of depressing economic statistics of the world interlaced with emotionally charged pictures, that add very little to the story itself.
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. 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.
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.
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.
A screenshot showed that authorities had forced all websites to delete content about the Panama Papers. Foreign websites such as WikiLeaks and China Digital Times are blocked from mainland China. On Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like social media website, censors deleted content about the Panama Paper. However, the name of Xi's brother-in-law got through, and Weibo users tried to circumvent them with less obvious language such as "brother-in-law", "Canal Papers" (for the Panama Canal), and so on. Despite the censorship, Weibo search ranking was topped by phrases seemingly related to the Panama Papers, such as "tax evasion", "document", "leak" and "Putin".
On April 15, 2016, José Manuel Soria was forced to leave his post as acting Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism when the Panama Papers revealed that he and his family had maintained several offshore societies on tax havens during the previous decades. Soria initially denied this, but reports kept leaking that contradicted him. On April 14, a company came to light that he had owned on Jersey until 2002, while mayor of Las Palmas. Soria was put in a critical political position as a result of his confusing and changing explanations on the issue, and resigned the next day.
Former Emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani owned Afrodille S.A., which had a bank account in Luxembourg and shares in two South African companies. Al Thani also held a majority of the shares in Rienne S.A. and Yalis S.A., holding a term deposit with the Bank of China in Luxembourg. A relative owned 25 percent of these: Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, Qatar's former prime minister and foreign minister.
In March 2005, Dan Gertler International formed a new company, Global Enterprises Corporate (GEC), with Global Resources, owned by Beny Steinmetz. A former DRC mines minister, Simon Tuma-Waku, was "special adviser". The company formed a joint copper and cobalt mining venture with DRC agency La Générale Des Carriers et Des Mines (Gécamines), which held 25%, and GEC 75%, which they placed into an Isle of Man holding company, Nikanor plc. The IPO raised £400 million in London and the company eventually reached a market capitalization of $1.5 billion for an initial investment of $3 million.
WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson, an Icelandic investigative journalist who worked on Cablegate in 2010, said withholding some documents for a time does maximise the leak's impact, but called for full online publication of the Panama Papers eventually. A tweet from WikiLeaks criticized the decision of the ICIJ to not release everything for ethical reasons: "If you censor more than 99% of the documents you are engaged in 1% journalism by definition."
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.
Steinmetz, who has a personal fortune of $6 billion, supplies diamonds to Tiffany and DeBeers and is Sierra Leone's largest private investor. Yet, according to a detailed report in The Namibian, his Octea subsidiary owes, among other debts, property taxes of $700,000 to the city of Koidu. These unpaid taxes are discounted, according to mayor Saa Emerson Lamina, because Octea promised a 5% profit−sharing agreement, and payment 1% of its annual profit to a community development fund, but it did not do this either.
He said the firm was the victim of a hack and that he had no responsibility for what clients did with the offshore companies that they purchased from Mossack Fonseca, which were legal under Panamanian law. Later that day, the Independent Movement (MOVIN)[note 1] called for calm, and expressed hope that the Panamanian justice system would not allow the culprits to go with impunity.
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 trial court prosecutor in Tunis ordered a judicial inquiry into the Panama Papers and Tunisian political figures suspected of hiring the firm. A judge from a Tunisian court specializing in financial crimes was assigned to the case. The Tunisian Assembly of the Representatives of the People established a parliamentary commission of inquiry as well
Tropical forests around Panama are vital for the functioning of the Panama Canal, providing it with the water required for its operation. Due to the canal's importance to the Panamanian economy, tropical forests around the canal have been kept in an almost pristine state; the canal is thus a rare example of a vast engineering project in the middle of a forest that helped to preserve that forest. Along the western side of the canal is the Parque Nacional Soberanía (Sovereignty National Park), which includes the Summit botanical gardens and a zoo. The best known trail in this national park is Pipeline Road, popular among birdwatchers.
Since the early 20th century, Panama has with the revenues from the canal built the largest Regional Financial Center (IFC) in Central America, with consolidated assets being more than three times that of Panama's GDP. The banking sector employs more than 24,000 people directly. Financial intermediation contributed 9.3 percent of GDP. Stability has been a key strength of Panama's financial sector, which has benefited from the country's favorable economic and business climate. Banking institutions report sound growth and solid financial earnings. The banking supervisory regime is largely compliant with the Basel Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision. As a regional financial center, Panama exports some banking services, mainly to Latin America, and plays an important role in the country's economy. However, Panama still cannot compare to the position held by Hong Kong or Singapore as financial centers in Asia.
Lucien Ebata, a Kinshasa businessman, runs Orion Group SA, registered in the Seychelles in 2009 by Mossack Fonseca through the Luxembourg-based Figed, according to the Panama Papers. Ebata, who receives a salary of a million dollars, does a business volume of around a billion, and counts both Shell and the Société nationale des pétroles du Congo (SNPC) among his customers.
Long jumper Irving Saladino became the first Panamanian Olympic gold medalist in 2008. In 2012 eight different athletes represented Panama in the London 2012 Olympics: Irving Saladino in the long jump, Alonso Edward and Andrea Ferris in track and field, Diego Castillo in swimming, and the youngest on the team, Carolena Carstens who was 16 competing in taekwondo. She was the first representative to compete for Panama in that sport.
A central spine of mountain ranges extends almost the entire length of Panama, dividing the country into Atlantic- and Pacific-facing slopes. The two principal ranges, the Tabasará Mountains (Cordillera Central) in the west and the Cordillera de San Blas in the east, are separated near the centre of the country by a saddle of lower land. This depression (the Panama Canal site) divides the country again—roughly into western and eastern halves. Of the four quadrants thus formed, the southwestern has the largest number of settlements; however, the environs of the canal account for most of Panama’s population and commerce. The country’s highest peak is an inactive volcano, Barú (Chiriquí), which reaches an elevation of 11,401 feet (3,475 metres).
The ICIJ investigation traces out many levels of offshore holdings in multiple countries related to the business dealings of Beny Steinmetz, with many serious findings such as a request that Mossack Fonseca backdate the revocation of a power of attorney. Mossack Fonseca records show that Sierra Leone diamond exporter Octea, based in the British Virgin Islands with the Steinmetz family as its beneficiaries, is wholly owned by Guernsey-based BSGR Resources, linked to a bribery scandal in Guinea. Foundations in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, among them Nysco and Balda, own BSGR. In 2007, one of Nysco's bank accounts contained $27.7 million.
Octea's subsidiary, Koidu Holdings, obtained the mine for $28 million, which was supposed to be a deposit, in 2002. Fighting had stopped in Sierra Leone, and the mine had previously been held and worked by South African firm Branch Energy, in payment for the services of its parent company, Executive Outcomes, "effectively...a military battalion for hire," against rebel fighters in the area. Steinmetz has since put $300 million into the project.
The US influence in Panama can be seen in the country's sports. Baseball is Panama's national sport and the country has regional teams and a national team that represents it in international events. At least 140 Panamanian players have played professional baseball in the United States, more than any other Central American country. Notable players include Bruce Chen, Rod Carew, Mariano Rivera, Carlos Lee, Manny Sanguillén, and Carlos Ruiz.