PANAMA CITY.- Arístides Royo, lawyer and former President of Panama, highlights that it is concerning that so far there is no evidence presented involving the companies of the Waked family with drug trafficking of money laundering. For him it is more unthinkable that the Isthmus is more demanded a better control over the creation of limited companies, while the United States leads this type of procedures in a less transparent way.
For former President Arístides Royo, “Panama has a couple of problems to solve with the United States and it would have to do it with the new administration that will take its oath on January 20”. The lawyer refers to the issue of the Clinton List that became in the country of the isthmus in a complex case for including Waked International group (Wisa) in this list. He also speaks about the issue of the legal structure that allows the country to be one of the places in the globe from where offshore companies can be created, which became an intense controversy since the scandal of what for many were the so-called “Panama Papers”.
For Royo, many Panamanians are concerned about the power held by many officials of the US Department of the Treasury to declare slow, but effective trade death of a national company banning it from using credit cards. But the most distressing thing for the former President is that so far “they have presented no evidence before Panamanian authorities, nor Panamanian government that involves Mr. Waked, to whom I don’t know in drug trafficking or money laundering”.
Regarding the controversy that exploded after the filtration and publication of almost 11.5 million documents of the law firm Mossack Fonseca by the International Consortium of Investigation Journalists, Arístides Royo highlights categorically that “we must tell the United States to also solve the problem of Delaware, Nevada, Wyoming and other states where limited companies are handled more than in Panama. President Obama referred to that, but nothing has been done, because it implies actions from American Senators”.
The lawyer explains that in the country of the isthmus every year approximately 80,000 limited companies are opened, but here complex protocols are followed very strictly that force to have clear information about the identity of the owners, including reporting immediately upon request of any country in case a possible crime has been committed. On the contrary, says Royo, “in the United States the system has not been touched. It is still the same, it has not been modified; therefore I can say that the Panamanian system is more transparent and more efficient than the American system”.
From confrontation to collaboration
Arístides Royo, who in 1977 was one of the main figures of the team that negotiated Torrijos-Carter Treaties, has the experience of stating that in the past the relations between the United States and the country of the isthmus were very intense, because Americans “had here a territory where they acted as if they were sovereigns… they had 14 military bases, when they administered the Canal”. Then he explains that when the country achieved the handling of its intermarine resource, those relations softened and nowadays Americans participate in tenders in which they are not always successful. He highlights that in this scenario they have lost the two most important tenders related to the Canal, one that had to do with the expansion of ports and the other to administer the ports of Cristóbal and Balboa. Despite these obstacles, the United States see Panama as another partner, as a friend.
On Panamanian view, the lawyer explains that authorities “are good collaborators of the United States in terms of drug… there are impressive amounts of drug seizure, which concerns a lot because one may think: where is the other amount that should be impressive and cannot be caught? Of course, in the United States there are 34 million consumers that are active; they are the base of this business”.
Neither cold nor hot
After evaluating the history of this binational agreement, Arístides Royo does not hesitate when saying “the fact that a Republican president comes as President Trump is not going to make a big change in the relations with Panama”.
To deepen in his reflections, the quotes the free trade agreement signed during the last period of President George W. Bush’s administration: “I think that agreement benefit Panamanians and Americans. Because if we are allowed to send Panamanians products there, they are also allowed to import American products here, which they do with an advantage because American farmers and pig farmers are subsidized by the United States government”. That is, we can then interpret that in this story in the end win-win will always prevail.