MANILA, Philippines – Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela on Friday, April 8, outlined the country’s actions on offshore finance and banking secrecy moving forward in the wake of what is being called the Panama Papers scandal.
The Panama Papers refers to the leak of 11.5 milion documents that detail information on over 214,000 offshore companies listed by the Mossack Fonseca law firm.
“The massive filtration of documents on corporations of a Panamian law firm with operations in different jurisdictions, has given rise to a controversy that shows a global problem,” Varela said in a statement.
While he laments that the scandal is badly named, Varela added the controversy is a problem for many countries in the world, “whose legal and financial structures are still vulnerable to be used for purposes that do not represent the common good of the citizens.”
He also said that he will not let the media narrative define the country. He asked Chancellor Isabel de Saint Malo to contact member countries of the Global Economic Forum, as well as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), that it is willing to undergo dialogue to “reach agreements that contribute to the economic development of our countries.”
Varela added that Panama’s government will also be creating an independent committee of experts, both national and international, who will evaluate the country’s practices. The committee will recommend measures – and share the recommendations with other countries – to strengthen the transparency of its financial and legal systems.
“We reaffirm our commitment as a responsible country, respectful of international law and cooperative with the efforts of the international community in search of solutions to this global problem. At this time we ask all countries to make use of all diplomatic channels and maintain mutual respect,” Varela went on to say.
Panama is scrambling to avert being once again designated as a tax haven that facilitates money laundering, after the revelations of offshore dealings of many of the world’s wealthy, famous and infamous.
The Panama Papers have felled Iceland’s prime minister and forced other political heavyweights onto the defensive, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, and Argentinian President Maurico Macri.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) coordinated the investigation with more than 100 media groups around the world after the documents were obtained from an anonymous source by German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung. – With reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com