The Panamanian Banking Association (ABP) asked the Parliament (AN) today to approve a bill that seeks to classify tax evasion as a crime, which has been recommended by several international organizations.
Carlos Troetsch, president of the association, at a press conference praised the importance of the project to demonstrate Panama's commitment to "transparency", although he pointed out "there are some aspects of improvement to have a fair law for Panamanians and that its inappropriate use for political issues be avoided".
In January, of this year, the Panamanian government presented in the AN, with an opposition majority, a bill that establishes penalties of 2 to 4 years for those evading more than 300,000 dollars, and that since last April is being discussed in the first of three debates.
In current Panamanian legislation, tax evasion is simply an administrative fault.
Its penalization has been recommended by international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Financial Action Task Force (FATF), but has met resistance in the country’s legal and business sectors.
The Panamanian Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (CIAP), one of the most important guilds in the country, asked on Sunday to raise the amount from which it is considered tax evasion of $ 300,000 to $ 500,000.
The Panamanian financial platform has been under the microscope of several international organizations for several years due to its supposed lack of transparency. The criticism worsened after the inclusion of Panama in the gray list of the FATF, which came out in February 2016, and after the scandal of the so-called Panama papers.
The Government, however, has put several laws in place to more vigorously combat money laundering, abolish bearer shares and tighten regulation for non-financial sectors such as real estate, legal services, casinos and exchange offices.
The Panamanian banking center, an important financial center in the region, has almost a hundred national and foreign institutions and represents about 10 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).