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Panama Papers: the scandal that damaged the image of a country

In April 2016, The giant leak of more than 11.5 million documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack & Fonseca that exposed the existence of offshore companies involving personalities from around the world triggered suspicions of tax evasion and money laundering, which lead to the inclusion of Panama on France’s list of tax havens
  • EFE

On April 3, 2016 the image of Panama, as a country of tax and banking haven, took a small twist.

In April 2016, The giant leak of more than 11.5 million documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack & Fonseca that exposed the existence of offshore companies involving personalities from around the world triggered suspicions of tax evasion and money laundering, which lead to the inclusion of Panama on France’s list of tax havens.

This case generated two main points of view. First, the Panama Papers, for many, helped bring attention to an issue that had been ignored by politicians for years because of their unwillingness to confront the situation. However, the second reaction was less positive. The fall of offshore businesses and the struggle to gain international trust have marked the life of Panama, an international financial center, since the information contained in the documents affected government officials from different parts of the world and generated one of the largest journalistic investigations in history around the world.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, made up of 300 journalists organizations from several countries; were in charge of developing all these stories and revealing the hidden contents in the Panama’s attorney firm. And so much was the effort that the group McClatchy and the Miami Herald, that comprise to this group, received the recognition of the Pulitzer prize for having covered to the illegal cases or considered morally incorrect.

Papeles de Panamá

This world-renowned case even caught the attention of Hollywood. Last year rumors film director Steven Soderbergh talk about prepare a film about the Papers of Panama.

The struggle to change the image of Panamá

Since the Panama Papers came to light, the Panamanian government has tried with all in its power to recover the transparency that attacked a market that now seeks to recover under other conditions.

"The international scandal of offshore companies, known as Panama Papers, allowed to clean and impose order the Central American country," said Panamanian Vice President and Foreign Minister Isabel de Saint Malo as a way to seek reliability in the government and to state that there is a fight against the problem.

The most representative "victory" was when the Central American Parliament (Parlacen) succeeded at the end of January to stop labeling the investigation as the Panama Papers throughout the European area and naming it as the case of "Money laundering, tax evasion and avoidance".

"The problem of tax evasion and tax fraud is not the responsibility of a particular country, but is a complex phenomenon affecting several countries and organizations," said the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schultz, who referred to Parlacen.

Among the most outstanding arrests were the representatives of the firm Mossack & Fonseca, Ramón Fonseca Mora and Jürgen Mossack, who were under pretrial detention for their indirect connection in the majority of cases that have involved many in asset and money laundering.

However, this case gave rise to investigations that compromised not only personalities and businessmen, but also officials of the national government: the Odebrecht case.

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