Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Thursday, February 9, 2017

PANAMA'S COURTS DISMISSING ALL SUITS BY NONRESIDENT FOREIGN NATIONALS



Anger against foreign nationals, in the country's the post-Panama Papers/Odebrecht scandal internal political atmosphere, appears to have manifested itself in the local court system, known for its corruption, and favoritism towards Panamanians. Attorneys in Panama City are reporting to clients, who are nonresident plaintiffs on the civil side, or complainants on the criminal side, that their cases are being dismissed by the judiciary, without any substantive or procedural grounds. Anti-American sentiment appears to be increasing, and thee has not been any official push back against it.

Apparently, the mere fact that they do not reside in the Republic of Panama has been deemed sufficient to close out their previously-filed claims. Appeals of these abrupt, and obviously politically-motivated, decisions will most likely be futile, if permitted at all, because of the multiple scandals surrounding the Supreme Court of Justice, Panama's high court. Many of the justices, appointed by former (and fugitive) President Ricardo Martinelli, have been angered by media allegations of corruption, much of which originated from outside the country.

Dodgy deposits, from Venezuela and Colombia, continue to be accepted in local banks, and wealthy nationals from those countries appear to be accepted in Panama, as residents, but North Americans and Europeans are generally not welcome to open new accounts.

On a Country Risk note, if foreign companies no longer have access to the court system, to redress possible future wrongs, suffered at the hands of Panamanian businesses, then foreign investors must avoid Panama, and foreign financial institutions should not incur any significant exposure there. This means that Panama should be effectively red-lined, for all Country Risk purposes, until the situation improves.  

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