Panama needs new anti-corruption laws to combat tax dodgers – Panama Papers panel

A government panel has said that Panama needs to get in line with United Nations transparency standards, adopt tougher anti-corruption legislation and tighten regulation of trusts

A leak in April of more than 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca sparked outrage in April
A leak in April of more than 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca sparked outrage in April

Panama can remain a competitive financial centre while cracking down on tax evaders and other criminals who have used the country to launder money, according to the panel formed by the government after the Panama Papers scandal broke in April.

The five-member "Committee of Independent Experts" said the country needs to get in line with United Nations transparency standards, adopt tougher anti-corruption legislation and tighten regulation of trusts.

"The moment has come. The country can no longer postpone decision-making in this field," said the 23-page report released on Monday.

A leak in April of more than 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, dubbed the Panama Papers, sparked outrage by showing how several people in many countries go offshore to avoid paying taxes. The leak included also several names from Malta, including then energy minister Konrad Mizzi and government Chief of Staff Keith Schembri.

"Panama is already acting on most of these issues, including strengthening the regulations that apply to trusts and aligning ourselves with international standards," Dulcidio de la Guardia, the country's economy minister, told Reuters news agency.

The report, which stressed the need for Panama to remain a magnet for banking and other service industries, calls for "transparency in identifying the final beneficiary of legal and financial instrument".

The official report went to President Juan Carlos Varela on Friday, before being released on Monday.

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