Did you know that Panama is a banking center for the region, and a 100% fiscal paradise? Well, don't you believe it. Just today, we found three stories in the papers that show how they really handle money affairs in this country. Read and shiver:
- The new administration found "irregularities" for at least $10 million in the Tourism Authority which date back to the previous administration when Martinelli's confidant, the Colombian arms trafficker Salomoh Shamah was running the show there. Apparently, contracts were awarded and the services that were bought were never provided.
- At least a million dollar is missing at the National Lottery. The money was set aside in 2012 to help the victims of massive floods in Capira, La Chorrera and Arraijan. Then the money just disappeared.
- And last but not least: The lawyer of failed banking coop COACECSS says in La Prensa that scandal ridden investment firm Financial Pacific invested in the bank's high-interest term deposits and got paid the interest without ever really depositing the money. COACECSS's CD's were offered by such
crookedupstanding financial firms like POSI and former Watergate bagman Gilbert Straub. Canadian scammer Monte Friesner featured in the mix with his Pronto Cash debit card scheme until he was closed down too.
Oh, but Panama has banking secrecy, right? Let us explain you, dear reader, how much that is really worth. You know, banks here charge first world interest rates and first world transaction fees. Often even more. And because bankers are bankers everywhere, they then turn around and pay their employees third world salaries.
This, understandably, hurts. And the result is that all you need to do if you want the details about one or the other bank account is to take an underpaid clerk to lunch - Rincon Suizo appears appropriate for the occasion - and pay something to get a print-out of all the transactions. That's how secret it is with this so-called "banking secrecy". Not to mention banks just stealing your money with the help of some criminal elements in the "expat community".
Estate planning and asset protection? Forget about that too. The vultures will just be circling until they see an opportunity to strike and steal all the money.
SMART MONEY STAYS AWAY FROM PANAMA
It wouldn't be so bad - shit happens everywhere, after all - if the authorities actively did something about all this misery. But the contrary is true: They are more often than not in on the deal. None of the examples above could have happened without the participation of judges, government officials and other authorities, whether they actively participate or just look the other way.
Similarly, you won't hear a peep out of the supposedly legitimate finance firms and banks about the rotten apples in their midst. The most they'll do is attempt to sweep the dirt under the rug and say that those are "just incidents".
So if you have some money and are actually smart, you keep it away from Panama. Bank in a normal jurisdiction. Paying taxes might even be cheaper than losing it all in the Nigeria of Central America. And don't say we didn't warn you.