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Panama must set date for public release of official Panama Papers report

Transparency International, the global anti-corruption movement, calls on the government of Panama to set a date for the release of its official inquiry into financial reforms related to the publication of the Panama Papers.

Last week the government said the independent committee on financial reform had completed the report. At the same time it announced it will begin to report on fines given to financial institutions for violating anti-money laundering laws in Panama.

“We look forward to knowing when the report will be published. The new anti-money laundering rules are a step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done to show Panama is trying to change its reputation as a way-station for corruption, corrupt people or corrupt money,” said José Ugaz, chair of Transparency International.

The independent committee was tasked to review Panama’s financial sector in the wake of the publication of the Panama Papers, a cache of millions of leaked documents that showed how a Panamanian law firm was able set up networks of secret companies for global clients that were in some cases used to hide illicit wealth and evade taxes.

Transparency International’s Ugaz confirmed on 12 August with Isabel de Saint Malo, Vice President of Panama, that the final report will be made publicly available this year.

The global anti-corruption movement had expressed concern about the transparency and independence of the process following the resignations of Nobelist Joseph Stiglitz and anti-corruption expert Mark Pieth, two international members of the committee.

Panama’s National Committee against Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism has now agreed to ask financial regulators to design an action plan to implement the new rule on reporting fines by December.

In addition to publishing information about fines, the government should also publish comprehensive data on anti-money laundering enforcement, such as international cooperation activities; supervisory activity, including the number of visits by regulators to financial and non-financial institutions, and number of regulatory breaches identified. Transparency International also advocates setting up a public registry of beneficial owners of corporations and trusts registered in Panama.

Transparency International and other members of civil society will study the new rule at the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Panama (1-4 December).

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