Since the "Panama Papers" scandal dominated the news in Panama City, the country's professionals, as well as politicians, have sought to distract attention from their money laundering banks. Many go so far as to challenge American journalists to actually attempt to open a bank account, and many have difficulty doing so, as they must produce a large number of documents, to achieve success.
This tactic, while appearing to be convincing, is misleading for two important reasons:
(1) US citizens, and legal residents, pose a bookkeeping nightmare for foreign banks, due to FATCA reporting requirements. Panama banks, frankly, do not want the problems, and will make it difficult for any US national to open an account with them. Besides, Americans are generally not promising to deposit substantial sums; it's small business for the banks.
(2) Panamanians, especially lawyers, have no trouble opening accounts, for they employ bearer-share corporations, as the account holders, and in most cases promise top make lucrative, large deposits, which the banks desire. Of course, bribes are often offered to facilitate the transaction. In many cases, the bank owners are even related to the lawyers seeking new accounts, or both the bank and the attorneys are members of the same organized crime group, usually the one I refer to as the Syrian Organized Crime Syndicate, the largest group in the country.
As you can see, it's only outsiders who have problems opening accounts; the money launderers, their lawyers, and criminal elements are welcomed with open arms, because of the large deposits, which will soon be entered the bank. The fact that Source of Funds, and Beneficial Owner, never come up, illustrates the ongoing nature of Panama's serious banking deficiencies.