The best defense is attack. Fearing that it will still be pinned down in the new investigation into tax havens called “Pandora Papers” that the consortium of investigative journalists ICIJ plans to publish on Sunday, Panama has warned that this work could create damage. “Insurmountable” for the country.
The ICIJ has announced that it will publish its “The most extensive presentation to date on financial secrecy”, based on the leak of 11.9 million documents “covering the four corners of the world”. The so-called “Pandora Papers” survey is the fruit of the work of more than 600 journalists in 117 countries, according to the ICIJ.
“Any publication” which would strengthen “A false perception” of the country as a possible tax haven “will have devastating consequences for Panama and its inhabitants ”, we can read in a letter from the Panamanian government quoted by local media. “The damage could be insurmountable”, says the Panamanian government in the letter, which was forwarded to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) through a law firm.
The letter from the Panamanian government cites several reforms carried out in recent years by this Central American country which nevertheless remains on the list of tax havens in France and the European Union. She points out that since 2016 more than 395,000 companies and foundations have seen their registration suspended, half of those that existed at the time.
The government fears that Panama will find itself once again caught up in a new scandal over financial havens after the one triggered by the publication in 2016 of a previous investigation by the ICIJ known as the “Panama Papers”. The Panamanian law firm of Jürgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca, which announced in 2018 the cessation of its activities, was at the heart of this scandal which had erupted on April 3, 2016.
The leak of 11.5 million digital archives from the Mossack-Fonseca firm has shed light on the financial and fiscal practices of a whole range of clients, from simple entrepreneurs to Head of State, including banks and athletes. .
The publication of the “Panama Papers” had caused a global shock wave, including the resignation of the Icelandic Prime Minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson then of the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It has prompted at least 150 investigations in 79 countries into possible situations of tax evasion or money laundering, according to the American Center for Public Integrity.
Panama has since undertaken a series of reforms to strengthen banking supervision, punish tax evasion with imprisonment and exchange information with the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). Panama of 2016 “Has nothing to do with Panama today”, assures the government in its letter.