Panama seeks to protect its reputation in the face of a new publication on tax havens

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Panama fears that a publication announced for this Sunday on secret accounts in tax havens will once again affect its reputation, seriously damaged by the so-called “Panama Papers,” according to a government letter released on Saturday by local media.

“The damage could be insurmountable,” warns the Panamanian executive in the letter, sent through a law firm to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ, for its acronym in English).

The letter warns that “any publication” reinforcing “a false perception” of the country as a possible tax haven “will have devastating consequences for Panama and its people.”

The consortium of journalists has announced for this Sunday a new disclosure, based on the leak of 11.9 million documents, about secret accounts in tax havens.

The publication would involve personalities from around the world, who would have used opaque companies in 30 jurisdictions, including Panama, to avoid paying taxes and hiding money from possible illicit activities.

The letter from the Panamanian government also indicates some reforms that Panama has made in recent years to protect its financial system, although it remains on the list of tax havens in France and the European Union.

In addition, it indicates that since 2016 the registration of more than 395,000 companies and foundations has been suspended, half of those existing since that year.

The government fears that Panama will once again be the epicenter of a new global scandal linked to tax havens, such as the one that took place in 2016 after the disclosure, also by the ICIJ, of the so-called “Panama Papers.”

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That publication, linked to the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, sunk the international image of Panama, despite the fact that most of the companies involved were abroad.

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