Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Sunday, September 8, 2013

IRAN MOVES INTO THE REPUBLIC OF PANAMA

Panama watchers are reporting major Iranian interest Panama's new immigrant investor laws, and rumors that a large number of Iranian families will be relocating there are unsettling, in light of the fact that observers believe that Iran will use Panama as a base from which to expand its political presence, and investments, in Latin America.

Both Iranian bankers, and prominent builders, have been testing the waters in Panama City as an operations center. Iran already is heavily invested in Venezuela, where the regime has welcomed it with open arms, and to a lesser extent the leftist (and anti-US) governments in Peru, Ecuador, and Nicaragua all are experiencing increasing Iranian investment placement.

There is no evidence yet of an connection, between Iranian players and the members of Panama's powerful Syrian organized crime organization, but given that their interests have joined in other jurisdictions, one can expect that such a mutually beneficial accommodation will, sooner or later, be reached.

Iran seems determined to carve out a sphere of influence in Latin America, as the United States has been, more or less, absent from the region, as a major figure, ostensibly due to pressing issues in other parts of the world, and Panama, as an international financial center, with an expanding free trade zone, and a booming economy, is a good jurisdiction to direct those operations. It has also been used in the past to evade global trade sanctions existing against Iran.

Whether the expanding Iranian influence will require us to raise Country Risk on Panama is too early to tell, but we will be watching.




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