The Panamanian Government on Thursday asked the local financial system "not demoralize" for the "false" accusations that the country does not fight against money laundering, in reference to the inclusion of Panama in a blacklist prepared by the European Commission (EC).
In a speech to Panamanian bankers gathered in a congress, the country's vice president and foreign minister, Isabel De Saint Malo, congratulated the sector for its "constant struggle to keep the financial system up", and reiterated that "it is not true that Panama does not combat money laundering".
"We will not allow false accusations and attacks on our platform", said the Panamanian vice president, who asked the bankers not to be demoralized "by actions of external bodies that have not handled transparent processes, nor complied with the rules they profess" and which "do not know the current reality" of Panama's financial system.
The European Commission published on Wednesday a new list of 22 countries or jurisdictions outside the EU bloc that are struggling insufficiently against money laundering and terrorist financing, including Panama, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.
The inclusion in the list, which has yet to be approved within a month by the European Parliament and Council, does not imply sanctions against the countries, but the commission itself may require additional controls on its banks.
The same Wednesday, Panama rejected its inclusion in the list, accused the Commission of applying an opaque method to elaborate it, and announced the call for consultations of its ambassador to the European Union, Miguel Verzbolovskis.
De Saint Malo reiterated on Thursday that "the process of forming this list has not been transparent", and that the Panamanian Executive does not know "on what basis" it was formed because "there has not been an exchange of information" between the parties.
She also noted that "many countries" members of the European Union have already expressed "their disagreement with the list" arguing that "the process has not been clear" and that "they do not share the assessment" that has been made of Panama.
The Panamanian vice president also recalled that the US Treasury rejected the list and "has given instructions to its financial market, which is the one with which Panama has the most direct relationship, to ignore that list because it is not consistent".
Panamanian analyst consulted by Acan-Efe and Vice President De Saint Malo acknowledged on Wednesday that the inclusion of Panama in the black list of the European Commission affects the image of the country, which in recent years has created a legal scaffolding precisely to end with the ballast of tax haven.