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PANAMA

 

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Transparency International’s corruption rank for this country in 2000 is absent and means that international investment is discouraged by excessive corruption.

 

PANAMA PLEADS NOT GUILTY IN ARMS SHIPMENT. OAS has complained about Panama and Nicaragua's inadequate investigations of an arms scandal. Namely, weapons belonging to the Nicaraguan police were sold to the Panamanian police. However, the weapons were ultimately transferred to the Colombian AUC paramilitary, allegedly with the help of Colombian police and customs authorities. Panama's Ministry of Foreign Relations responded to the OAS complaint and claimed that the signatures by which the Panamanian police allegedly bought the weapons from the Nicaragua were false. According to Panamanian prosecutors, investigations need to go on. (The Panama News, August 12, 2002, summary by Pavlidis George).

 

Money launderer convicted Panama has convicted Yardena Hebroni, who is a jewellery importer, following the biggest money laundering investigation in the country’s history. Rosendo Miranda, chief drug prosecutor, said the conviction showed the offshore haven’s commitment to cracking down on hot money. The court convicted Ms Hebroni of laundering $10 million US in proceeds from drug trafficking through her company based in the Colon free zone, Panama’s duty free import and re-export enclave. The money was brought from the Unites States wrapped in newspaper and deposited in nine local banks, some of which reported suspicious transactions and triggered an investigation. (Financial Times, April 5, 2002, summary by Sherldine Tomlinson).

 

President calls for stronger economy, fight against corruption  Panama’s president Mireya Moscoso said that her government would move quickly to reinvigorate the sluggish economy and fight corruption. In her state of the nation address to congress, Moscoso said it was necessary to thoroughly investigate all allegations of bribes or corruption among lawmakers. The start of the legislative session begins amid allegations that lawmakers have accepted bribes in exchange for approving laws. The country has 16 percent unemployment and 40 percent of its 2.7 million people live in poverty. Congress has been mired in controversy since the beginning of the year, when lawmakers from the opposition Democratic Revolution Party accused their colleagues of receiving bribes in return for approving a multi-million industrial centre and two judges chosen by Moscoso. The Panama’s attorney general has asked congress to lift lawmakers immunity. There are many members of congress that include the majority of Democratic Revolution and congressional president Ruben Arosemana, have voluntarily waived their immunity. Arosemana urged those remaining to do the same, so that congress can recover its "credibility."  She also said that her government was "looking for opportunities for the country’s future," and mentioned the upcoming negotiations for a possible free trade agreement between Central America and the United States.    (Yahoo News (Associated Press), March 1, 2002, summary by Sherldine Tomlinson).

 

Financial Action Task Force (FATF), international body against money laundering has removed this country from its blacklist.(Wall St. J. June 22, 2001, p. A3).

 

SUPREME COURT SEEKS TO EXTRADITE EX-PRESIDENT TO FACE EMBEZZLEMENT CHARGES    Abdala Bucaram, former President of Ecuador, will be required to face an embezzlement inquiry when extradited from Panama, who granted him political asylum in 1997.  The Congress of Ecuador removed him from office after a term of six months for ‘mental incapacity’ for approving a contract to a Colombian company without competitive bidding.  The $40 million contract was for 1.4 million student backpacks in a subsidized school materials program, but 900,000 were never delivered.  His brief term in office earned him the nickname ‘El Loco’ or ‘The Crazy One’.    (South America Daily (AP), Apr 11, 2001, summary by Marg Reynolds).

 

ANOTHER HATED LATIN AMERICAN POLITICO IN EXILE. Vladimiro Montesinos, the hated former spy chief of Peru, arrived Sunday in Panama on a jet and applied for asylum. Now, the President of Panama, Mireya Moscoso, must make her final decision on whether to accept the former spy chief. The Organization of American States lobbied for the granting of asylum, in order to help pave the way for a graceful exit by Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori. Montesinos truly seems to be too influential and dangerous to live in Peru: his supporters reportedly threatened a coup in Peru if he wasn't given asylum. However, Panamanians are tiring of their country being a kind of Club Med for aging strongmen. "Once again, Panama is being asked to be the dumping ground for this type of garbage," said the former president of Panama Guillermo Endara. Among the disgraced Latin American leaders that were provided asylum in Panama in recent years we can find the former President of Ecuador, Abdala Bucaram, the former Haitian dictator General Raul Cedras and the former Guatemalan president Jorge Serrano Elias. (Source: CNN News (AP), September 24, 2000, summary by Pavlidis George).

 

PANAMA CITY – Authorities informed today that the company Speed Joyeros dedicated to the gold commerce has been involved in laundering narco-money involving false billing, checks to third persons, electronic transference, among other activities. The owner has been detained in the United States (AP, September 20, summary by Fabian Camacho).

 

OECD has declared that this country helps money laundering (June 26, 2000).

 

The Index of Economic Freedom (by Driscoll-Holmes-Kirkpatrick) for 2001 places Panama in the “Mostly Free” category with a rank of 45 (Ranks range from 1 for Hong Kong to 155 for North Korea, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 1, 2000). H. D. Vinod’s trimmed correlation analysis indicates that countries free from economic regulation are less corrupt. After allowing for some exceptions by 20% trimming, the correlation is near 0.9.

 

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Last Updated:
8 February 2007