It has always been the policy of this blog to allow equal time to all sides of any issue. Inasmuch as my recent articles, dealing with the issues facing the financial reform committee in the Republic of Panama have elicited angry retorts from Panamanians, we shall devote this article to quoting their complaints, and my response. First, we show the Panamanian statement, (with corrections of typos, if necessary) and then our reply:
(1) Did you know that the laws, regarding bearer share holders were changed well before the Mossack issue ? Answer: That is true, but there is absolutely no evidence that this legislation has ever been enforced; It is being totally ignored.
(2) We have no obligation to collect anyone else's taxes; that is every country's problem, not ours. Answer: when you set your country up as a tax haven, and do not enter into agreements to share financial information with other countries, you are not participating in a level playing field on taxation, and tax cheats will flock to your country. Do not be surprised when your country is repeatedly blacklisted, as a non-cooperating jurisdiction.
(3) Most drug lords have bank accounts, properties and much more in your country, what the hell do you guys think you are, Mother Teresa ? Answer: The US and Canada sanction organized crime groups, and do their best to block narcotics traffickers from banking, and investing, in North America. When discovered, action is taken to seize those assets. In Panama, drug lords can freely and openly open bearer share corporations, and use them to open banks accounts, depositing millions of dollars, in cash, without any consequences. Panama does not, and has not, arrested money launderers for drug lords, because it wants their dirty money.
(4) There is more corruption in your country than in mine, go clean your mess first, and the you can point your filthy finger at us. Answer: Transparency International, and many other NGOs investigating corruption, consistently rate the United States and Canada far below Panama's rampant, and systemic, corruption, including at the highest levels of government and the court system in Panama is broken and dysfunctional, due to judicial corruption, that extends all the way up to the judges of the Panama Supreme Court of Justice.
(5) You insist in believing that all Panamanians are crooks, but tell me just one thing, will Barrack Obama allow a foreigner to impose the political and financial policy upon the USA ? First of all, the only Panamanians that we consider crooks are those who use the laws, regulations, and policies of the country, to facilitate money laundering, corruption and drug trafficking. Most Panamanians are law-abiding, and want true reform in their country. regarding your statement, the US follows the recommendations of FATF and many other international organizations; it does not play the sovereignty card, like Panama does, whenever the truth exposes the country's warts to the global financial community.
(6) Do not know who your local sources are, maybe the Embassy people ? Answer: my sources of information are local Panamanian businessmen, and journalists, who are sick and tired of the corruption, facilitation of drug trafficking, terrorist financing, and other ways in which crime runs rampant in Panama, and who want a meaningful change. The American Embassy, which, by the way, has been a true friend to Panama, for decades, is not a source of my articles.
To summarize, Panama needs change; placing the blame upon the United States for everything, just will not work any more. Without meaningful reform, Panama could find itself out of favor as an offshore financial center, as well as a place to be avoided by tourists, with serious economic consequences.