After the publication of the so called “The Panama Papers”, having a Corporation or a Foundation of Private Interest in Panama has almost become an international stigma, without there being legal grounds to consider this as a crime.
The incorporation of an “offshore” Company or a Foundation in Panama does not constitute an illegality in itself, given the fact that the crime only exists depending on the purposes for which it is created, for example, in the case where the purpose is to defraud the fiscal authorities, money laundering, drug trafficking, or other criminal operations performed by individuals who prefer to stay in the shadows. Although an “offshore” company may offer a wider autonomy to manage assets, it does not grant the right to commit a crime. For this reason, the Panamanian government has established certain transparency laws, forcing financial and non-financial subjects, including lawyers and accountants, to report any suspicious activity or possible tax evasion.
Both corporations and private interest foundations provide confidentiality and privacy to its beneficiaries, facilitate agreements between partners and the orderly distribution of profits of a business or the estate of a family. For the most part, entities are created for legal and legitimate purposes, such as vehicles of investment and estate planning, and operate under strict local and international regulations.
For this reason, is vital to individually analyze each corporate entity or client, to ensure that the purpose of the “offshore” Company or Foundation fully complies with the rules and regulations that guarantee their ethical and lawful operation at all times. This way, all public information collected after a thorough legal research among the different government offices, can be made available to public authorities and financial companies when required as part of an investigation.
However, if proof of ownership of a company is required, a Share Certificate would be necessary; these are considered private documents and are not publicly accessible through regular procedures.
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