Okke Ornstein's Comments
Panama's Supreme Court took a decision the 17th of this month in a libel case brought by HSBC bank USA/Panama against a Canadian expatriate that has far reaching consequences for the country's (in)famous banking and corporate secrecy which has made it a money laundering and tax dodging haven over the years.
The decision will hit hard in that - substantial - part of the offshore finance business where secrecy is essential for survival: (drug) money laundering and (corporate) tax evasion. Investigations and arrests of narco kingpins invariably lead to Panama where drug trade profits are laundered and then hidden in numerous corporate structures. The real estate construction boom thrives on dirty money, and the DEA described the industry as follows:
Large scale gold mining has nothing to do with romantic images of people sifting through river beds, panning sediments for gold dust. It is about massive excavations, cyanide to dissolve gold residues, exploitation of workers.
Case in point is Petaquilla Mining, a Canadian/Panamanian outfit that owns a concession in the Panamanian province of Coclé. If you read their website, it’s all about building roads and helping local communities.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that Israeli security experts working for a private security firm, Global CST, owned by former General Staff operations chief, Brigadier General (res.) Israel Ziv, and Brigadier (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, were involved in the operation to rescue high-profile hostage Ingrid Betancourt from the FARC rebel group:
The President of Panama's National Assembly, Pedro Miguel Gonzalez, has filed a demanda de inconstitucionalidad with the Supreme Court against the Salas-Becker Agreement. That agreement between Panama and the United States, signed in 2002, allows for joint patrols in Panamanian waters and the conduct of bilateral maritime police operations to prevent illicit activities such as drug trafficking, illegal fishing, and contraband transport. In reality however, the US has arrested, taken and jailed Panamanian suspects under the agreement without even letting Panama know about it and that, claims Gonzalez, is in violation of Panama's constitution.