Panama will seek to attract new banks in the US and Europe

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  • Thu, 07/12/2018 - 17:02
Ciudad de Panamá
  • Ciudad de Panamá
  • Foto: TVN noticias

Panamanian bankers will go to Europe and the United States in the coming months to present "the reality" of the International Banking Center of Panama (CBI) and attract new players to that place, ranking 14th place among 137 countries of the world, reported today the Banking Association of Panama (ABP).

The president of the PBL, Carlos Troetsch, explained at a press conference that the delegation will visit "Washington in September and London, Paris, Frankfurt and Geneva in October", in order to "make known the changes" in the CBI to increase their competitiveness and "be seen in the right dimension" as a safe place.

That tour will be accompanied by the Superintendency of Banks of Panama (SBP) that also, in 2019, "will convene in the country the regulators and correspondent banking" to an appointment to expose the current situation of the International Banking Center, with more than 130,000 million dollars in assets in 2017 and a hundred members.

Troetsch said that this is intended to encourage other banks to settle in Panama, due to its versatility in the financial and banking business, leveraged with "the highest standards" of quality control that, he assumed, "many are unaware".

He admitted that it is necessary to make that effort to reverse "the reputational blow" suffered by his country due to financial scandals such as the so-called Panama Papers, which placed it as a center for tax evasion and money laundering two years ago.

"We are much less risky despite the reputational blows," he said.

He added that Panamanian bankers have "enthusiastically" welcomed the negotiation of a free trade agreement (FTA) with China because the Asian country has had a presence in Panama for two centuries, although only a year ago diplomatic relations were established, breaking with Taiwan, so it is not strange to them.

"A well-managed FTA can be a source of progress," he said, adding that the government has asked them to accompany the negotiation "closely".

Investments in logistics, tourism and industrial conglomerates are "opportunities" that can attract Chinese capital in the framework of an FTA, and "why not" that new banks of the Asian giant be installed in Panama, as a platform to project to the rest of Latin America, he said.

Another possibility is that banks with Panamanian capital expand to China Currently there are none, but there are international banks that operate in both countries, he said.

Troetsch noted, on the other hand, that Panama "needs" to approve the bill that criminalizes tax evasion, requested by international financial regulatory bodies, to prevent the country from returning to a discriminatory list.

He specified that the bill has a lot of consensus and proposes penalties of 2 to 4 years in prison based on an annual evasion of $ 300,000, which "will raise the reputation level" of the CBI by having "certainty of punishment" without any loopholes for a "political application" of the regulation, an initial fear.

He warned that there is an issue to discuss, and that international organizations claim that Panama also punishes evasion in other places, which, in his opinion, "is not possible" because his country has and defends its national collection system, not global.

"The bill, as it is in draft, is an example for the region, to improve the collection and closes the current weaknesses of the system," he said.

He admitted that considering tax evasion a precursor crime of money laundering "is implicit" and assured that "it will not cause loss of competitiveness" of the CBI.

The PBL today is holding the 3rd International Financial Summit focused on analyzing the future challenges of the banking center and its modernization. ACAN-EFE

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