Panama rejected on Wednesday its "unfair" inclusion in a new list of the European Commission (EC) of third countries with deficiencies in their strategies against money laundering and terrorist financing, and called for consultations to its ambassador to the European Union, Miguel Verzbolovskis.
The government of President Juan Carlos Varela said in a statement that "it will continue its efforts to establish a communication channel to clarify the concerns of the Commission", whose proposed list "must be submitted to the European Parliament for approval within a period of one month extendable".
Panama hopes that this dialogue "values the commitment and dedication" of the country "in the adaptation of its legislation and financial platform to prevent money laundering and the financing of illegal acts", but while it is possible to establish "the Panamanian Government will call for consultations to the Representative of Panama to the European Union, Ambassador Miguel Verzbolovskis", the official letter added.
"Panama urges the European Commission to reconsider the unjust action taken against a country with a clear commitment in the fight against money laundering and the fight against the financing of terrorism", said the Panamanian Executive in its official letter.
The European Commission (EC) on Wednesday included Panama in its new list of third countries with deficiencies in their strategies against money laundering and terrorist financing, along with 22 other countries and jurisdictions around the world.
"Being on this list means that we have concluded that doing financial and banking transactions with these countries could expose the European financial system to high risks of money laundering and terrorist financing", said European Justice Commissioner, Vera Jourová, who insisted that it is a "warning" and not "a system of sanctions", she explained at a press conference.
Accompany Panama in the list Afghanistan, American Samoa, Bahamas, Botswana, North Korea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guam, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, the US Virgin Islands and Yemen.
The Panamanian Government stressed that it considers that "the process carried out by this European body in the preparation of the list has been opaque, since no interaction with Panama was generated as the third country subject to analysis".
It argued that despite the "enormous efforts from his Embassy and Representation before the European Union in Brussels and official visits of high authorities, Panama was not given the opportunity to inform or respond on the actions taken in legislation and practice, to address any deficiency perceived by the Commission".
The inclusion in the EC list "is not very consistent with the close bilateral and commercial relationship that Panama maintains with this regional bloc and with the great advance of the nation in strengthening and modernizing its financial platform and international services", indicated the Panamanian Executive.
This platform is currently governed "by robust legislation and adequate to the highest standards, recognized by institutions such as the Financial Action Group of Latin America (GAFILAT) and the Global Forum of Transparency and Exchange of Information of the OECD", affirmed the Government from Panama.
The Panamanian Government convened a press conference on Wednesday, headed by Vice President and Foreign Minister Isabel De Saint Malo, to refer to the decision of the European Commission.