Monday, December 21, 2009

Panama bank offers gold for sale to the public

Panama: Credicorp Bank Now Offers Precious Metals

Thursday, December 3, 2009
The bank will offer its investment clients gold and silver bars and coins.
The product was born as a request from the customers, who demanded investment alternatives, specially in gold, a commodity whose price has grown around 60% in the last 12 months.

"Called 'precious metals' the product comprises the sale of gold and silver bars and coins, refined exclusively for Credicorp Bank (BVP: CRED) and certified by Swiss company Argor-Heraeus", reported

According to the newspaper, Credicorp is the first entity offering this product in Panama.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Can I obtain a turista pensionado visa and not relocate to Panama?

Objet: Question
Date: Dimanche 20 Décembre 2009, 7h33

Is it possible to obtain a turista pensionado visa and not relocate to Panama? I have herad you can do this with a multiple entry permit. Also,is there a major backlog to receive these visas and how long is the time for these visas to be issued? Thanks
Yes, you can. However, one visit has to be made for the actual application of the visa and then no more than 1 year after actual approval to be served of the approval.
A multiple-entry permit must be requested when leaving the country after filing. However, you have to budget a $25 monthly fine if you do not return to Panama after the 3-month multiple-entry permit expires to have it renewed.
Backlog of applications has reached new records with the new Administration, with delays going into 14 months from the time of filing.

Canada Trade Mission / Opportunities for Your Company in Panama

January 25, 2010 - January 29, 2010
Opportunities for Your Company in Panama
Deadline December 17, 2009

Join other Atlantic Canadian companies and travel to Panama to discover business opportunities for your company.

Following a successful trade mission to Panama in June 2009 with 10 Atlantic Canadian companies, NSB Inc. is currently recruiting companies to participate in a follow-up trade mission to Panama in January 2010.

Key sectors in Panama include building products and construction, information communications technology, environmental industries, and professional and educational services.

For a registration fee of $500 you will receive:

One-on-one business meetings tailored to your business goals;
Ground transportation to and from your business meetings;
High-level networking events to assist you in your entry or expansion into the market.
You are responsible for the cost of round trip airfare, accommodation and meals.

Space is limited. Register today. Fill out the
application form and return to Jennifer Dunbar at jdunbar@

Cost: $500 (Cheque payable to World Trade Centre Atlantic Canada)
Application Deadline: Friday, December 17, 2009
For additional information:
Peter Giffin

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Real estate agent liability Re: Any recourse?

Objet: Real estate agent liability Re: Any recourse?
À: "panama laws for expats"
Date: Dimanche 8 Novembre 2009, 11h57
  • The real estate agent's liability for defects

The agency is not responsible for concealed defects in the apartment

The agent does not have general liability for defects in the apartment, for example damage from humidity discovered after conclusion of the sale or other concealed defects. The seller of an apartment or real estate is liable to the buyer for defects - including the information provided by the agent prior to sale and any defects in that information.
The agent is not liable for e.g. incorrect information on the house manager's certificate, unless the agent had reason to believe that the information in question was incorrect. The seller is liable in such situations.
On the other hand, the agent has a far-reaching liability for the legality and quality of his brokerage work.
  • For instance, if information regarding a humidity defect is noted in the brokerage contract, but the agent fails to disclose this to the buyer, the agent has made a mistake in his work. Under such circumstances the agent is liable for any damages suffered as a result of the mistake.
  • If the agent's work performance is not up to the agreed standard, the customer may request that the commission is decreased.
Get help from the consumer advisor and file a complaint if necessary
If you have questions on any ambiguities regarding the work of real estate agents, contact the consumer advisor. The consumer advisor gives counsel regarding the legislation and rules governing the work of real estate agents and, if necessary, directs consumers forward, for instance to file a complaint with the Consumer Disputes Board.
Disputes over real estate transactions are sometimes unclear as to who is liable for incorrect or incomplete information supplied with regards to the apartment - the real estate agent or the seller. In this case the complaint should be filed against both parties.
Complaints regarding real estate agents may be filed with the State Provincial Office. The State Provincial Office may issue a warning to the real estate agent, force temporary closure of the agency or have them removed from the register of real estate agents. The State Provincial Office may not, however, order a real estate agency to pay damages or compensation.

Summarized below are several recent court cases involving misrepresentations in real estate transactions. These cases illustrate what appears to be the current trend in judicial thought away from the traditional concept of "caveat emptor" (Let the buyer beware) and towards the more modern, consumeroriented philosophy of "caveat licensee" (Let the licensee beware).

WASHINGTON -Summary of Facts: A "listing broker" gave a "selling broker" an incorrect description of the boundary lines of a property. Although information on file with the listing service clearly contradicted the listing broker's statements to the selling broker, the selling broker relied on the listing broker's statements and transmitted the incorrect information to a buyer. The buyer discovered the error after closing the transaction, and subsequently filed suit against both the listing and selling brokers, alleging misrepresentations. Decision: The court ruled in favor of the buyer, stating that the listing broker (although an agent of the seller) was, nevertheless, liable to the third party for the misrepresentations- that the listing broker was also liable for the actions of his subagent (i.e . , the sell ing broker) whom he authorized to transmit the incorrect information; and that the selling broker was also liable because he failed to exercise reasonable care and skill to discover the error.

MAINE-Summary of Facts: A purchaser of a lot filed suit against a seller for fraudulently representing that the lot had been approved for installation of a septic tank; the purchaser made no independent inquiry to determine the accuracy of th 11 representation. Decision: The court ruled in favor of the purchaser ' stating in part that "A plaintiff may justifiably rely on the fraudulent misrepresentation of a defendant, whether made intentionally or recklessly, without investigating the t'ruth or falsity of the representation. Reliance is unjustified only if the plaintiff knows the representation is false or its falsity is obvious to him". (Although the defendant in this case was the seller, the same reasoning would also seem to apply equally to agents of a seller.)

IDAHO-Summary of Fact: A broker had made representations to a buyer which were based upon i'ncorrect information supplied by a seller. The buyer filed suit against the broker for making misrepresentations, but the broker claimed that he was only acting as a "conduit" for information flowing from the seller to the buyer. Decision: The court, in its ruling, stated that "(T)he real estate agent (broker) will be liable to a prospective purchaser if he knew or should have known that the representations were inaccurate or if he could have, by reasonable investigation, determined the accuracy of the representations."

ALABAMA-Summary of Facts: A seller who knew his house had a faulty septic tank did not reveal this defect to his broker. A subsequent buyer of the property filed suit against both the seller and the broker for failure to disclose this defect. Decision: The court ruled in favor of the buyer stating that although the broker did not have actual knowledge of the defect, the broker (as agent for the seller) was obligated to learn about any deficiencies and to inform prospective buyers of such defects.

TEXAS-Summary of Facts: A broker who was selling his own property failed to advise the purchaser that the foundation of the structure on the property had settled and needed repairs. The purchaser subsequently filed suit against the broker/seller. Decision: The court ruled in favor of the purchaser, stating that a seller has a duty to reveal known defects to purchasers. (Although the defendant in this case was a seller, the same reasoning would also seem to apply equally to agents of a seller.)

NORTH CAROLINA -Summary of Facts: A purchaser of a house and lot filed suit against a builder, alleging that the builder had failed to disclose that the house had been built on "disturbed soil" (the house was constructed over a large hole filled with debris and then covered with clay). Decision: The court ruled that "Since this defect in the lot and the house . . . was not apparent to plaintiffs (the purchasers) and not within the reach of their digilent attention and observation, defendant (builder) was under a duty to disclose this information to plaintiffs". (Although the defendant in this case was a builder/seller, the North Carolina Supreme Court held in a related case that a real estate agent would also have come within the rule applied in this case if the agent knew or had reason to believe that the builder had constructed the house on "disturbed soil" yet withheld this fact from the purchasers.)

Although several of the cases cited above were not decided on the basis of North Carolina law, North Carolina real estate brokers and salesmen should be well aware of the principles set forth in all of these decisions: These principles, simply stated, are (1) that a real estate agent who intentionally or unintentionally gives a purchaser incorrect or incomplete information may be held liable for such statements even though the source of the incorrect information was the seller or another broker, and even though the purchaser could have verified the information himself; (2) that a seller and nis agent have an affirmative duty to disclose to prospective purchasers any latent (hidden) defects connected with the property (for example, faulty septic tank, leaky basement, etc.) about which they are aware or should reasonably be aware,- and (3) that although a real estate agent owes his primary loyalty to his principal, (usually the seller), the agent must treat all parties in the transaction fairly.

Furthermore, if a licensee has actual knowledge of material facts regarding a property (or should reasonably have known of such facts), but the licensee fails to disclose these facts to a prospective purchaser, then such nondisclosure may subject the licensee to disciplinary action by the North Carolina Real Estate Licensing Board.

--From information published in the Idaho Real Estatement, California Real Estate Bulletin, Mississippi Real Estate Hotline, and the Washington Real Estate News.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Up to 15 hours in line for residence visas in Panama

The article by Eliana Morales Gil is a revealing expose about the backlog in residence visas applications in Panama. The new administration inherited 15,000 applications filed more than one year ago. However, bad habits die hard: users complain about a limited number of applications received per day and of "privileged" users gaining entry without standing in line.
In an age when passport information is entered at airports by scanning a barcode, current applicants (including spouses and children) are ordered to have their picture taken every 3 months IN PERSON before an aging Polaroid camera at Immigration offices with no air conditioner and insufficient seating, which involves losing half a day of work or school. Holders of expired 3-month cards - and even permanent residents with "E-" cedulas - are subject to detention without probable cause at jail cells in Curundu and at Immigration offices. Pensionados only endure this uncertainty for a limited period because they are granted an indefinite visa but spouses and dependants who cannot live as perpetual tourists have to spend mornings at Immigration offices every 3 months, along with another day at Motor Vehicle offices IN PERSON to renew a driving license for the same period.
This is rarely disclosed to prospective investors at road shows abroad or "Invest in Panama" seminars.

See also:

Immigration the setting for complaints of racial discrimination

Immigration reform group on Facebook

Esperan hasta 15 horas por un turno en Migración
La administración se defiende alegando que se heredaron 15 mil expedientes con más de un año de retraso.

TRÁMITE. El Servicio Nacional de Migración atiende a unas 200 personas por día. 1298703
Eliana Morales Gil mailto:emorales@

El pasado viernes 20 de noviembre es una fecha que, difícilmente, Rosario Pérez* podrá olvidar. Ese día tuvo que esperar 15 horas para que le llegara el turno de ser atendida por funcionarios del Servicio Nacional de Migración.
Había llegado a la sede de esa entidad en la Ricardo J. Alfaro a las 4:30 a.m., pero no fue hasta las 6:19 p.m. cuando fue atendida. Ella, al igual que otros abogados panameños y extranjeros, esperó de pie y sin probar alimentos para que le admitieran su expediente.
Y pasó de todo. Al filo de las 4:00 p.m., todos los que allí estaban se quedaron boquiabiertos cuando los turnos fueron interrumpidos para recibir los papeles de una persona que no había hecho fila. Un funcionario de la entidad les explicó que la dirección había dado la orden de recibir los expedientes del recién llegado.
En ese momento el sistema se cayó, lo que provocó más retraso. Ese viernes, Pérez pudo presentar sus papeles a las 6:19 p.m., pero otros usuarios, narró, se quedaron hasta más tarde.
La larga espera no es de lo único que se quejan los usuarios en Migración.
Un abogado, que pidió el anonimato, contó que por estos días tramita el caso de un extranjero que prefirió vender sus propiedades y sacar una suma importante de dinero del Banco Nacional, porque su esposa fue víctima de malos tratos en esa entidad, cuando hacía diligencias para sacar un carné.
Otros tachan de groseros a los funcionarios y agentes de seguridad que trabajan cerca de la Dirección General. “Uno de los encargados de anunciar a las personas que van a ser atendidas por la dirección, no contesta ni los buenos días”, dijo una mujer visiblemente molesta.
Eduardo Peñaloza, subdirector de Migración, dijo que no comprende cómo las personas pueden llegar en la madrugada, cuando la entidad abre sus puertas a las 7:30 a.m., y pese a que cierra a las 2:00 p.m., los funcionarios siguen atendiendo a las personas que están en la institución a esa hora. “A veces se quedan hasta las 8:00 p.m. atendiendo a los usuarios”, dijo. Aseguró, además, que hay algunos abogados que presentan hasta 20 expedientes al mismo tiempo, y eso les quita horas a los que reciben los documentos.
Y es que, según Peñaloza, esta administración heredó unos 15 mil expedientes migratorios con más de un año de retraso. Por ejemplo, explicó que hasta la fecha han logrado ponerse al día con papeles que llegaron a la entidad en mayo de este año.
Migración también emitió un comunicado de prensa para informar que los funcionarios de esa institución no pueden otorgar boletos numéricos a los solicitantes de trámites. Indican que se atenderá de acuerdo con el orden de llegada.
Peñaloza también informó que actualmente se trabaja en cambios a la Ley 3 del 22 de febrero de 2008 (ley de Migración), para lo cual ya se han empezado a reunir con abogados y la Cámara Marítima, la cual debe atender trámites relacionados con los marinos que llegan a los puertos panameños, entre otros grupos.
El Servicio Nacional de Migración atiende diariamente a unas 200 personas. Según estadísticas divulgadas por su oficina de Relaciones Públicas, hasta la fecha han entrado al país un millón 212 mil 995 extranjeros, y han salido un millón 22 mil 892 . Los estadounidenses y colombianos lideran la lista de extranjeros con más entradas a Panamá: 196 mil 428 y 164 mil 826, respectivamente.
(*El nombre fue cambiado a solicitud de la fuente por temor a represalias en Migración).


They wait until 15 hours by a shift in migration The administration defends the ground that it inherited more than 15 thousand cases a year late. STEP. The National Immigration Service caters for about 200 people per day. 1298703 Eliana Morales Gil On Friday November 20 is a date that hard, Rosario Perez * will forget. That day he had to wait 15 hours for his turn came to be attended by officials of the National Immigration Service.
He arrived at the headquarters of that entity in the Richard J. Alfaro at 4:30 am, but it was not until 6:19 pm when it was served. She, like other Panamanians and foreign lawyers, stood and waited without food for which they admitted their application.
And everything happened. At exactly 4:00 pm, all those present gasped when shifts were interrupted to receive the papers of a person who had been queuing. An agency official explained that the management had given the order to receive the files of the newcomer.
At that time the system crashed, causing further delay. That Friday, Perez was able to present their papers at 6:19 pm, but other users, narrated, stayed up later.
The long wait is not the only thing users complain Migration.
One lawyer, who requested anonymity, said that these days handles the case of an alien who preferred to sell their properties and get a large sum of money the National Bank because his wife was abused in that state when he made inquiries to draw a card.
Others accused of being rude to staff and security officers who work near the DG. "One of the managers to advertise to people who are going to be addressed by management, not answer nor good morning," said a visibly upset woman.
Eduardo Penaloza, assistant director of Immigration, said he does not understand how people can arrive at dawn, when the institution opens its doors at 7:30 am, and although close at 2:00 pm, officers continue to serve people who are in the institution at that time. "Sometimes they stay until 8:00 p.m. light users, "he said. It added that there are some lawyers who have up to 20 files at the same time, and that takes away hours to receive documents.
Because, according Peñaloza, this administration inherited some 15 thousand cases of migrants over a year late. For example, he explained that to date have been catching up with papers that came to the institution in May this year.
Migration has also issued a press release reporting that the officials of that institution can not give tickets to applicants numerical procedures. They state that will be addressed according to the order of arrival.
Penaloza also reported currently working on changes to Law No. 3 of 22 February 2008 (Migration Act), for which have already begun to meet with lawyers and the Chamber of Shipping, which must meet procedures related to marine arriving in Panamanian ports, among other groups.
The National Immigration Service serves about 200 people daily. According to statistics published by the Public Relations office to date have entered the country 995 million 212 thousand foreigners, have left one million 22 thousand 892. The U.S. and Colombian topping the list of foreigners with more tickets to Panama: 196 thousand 428 and 164 thousand 826, respectively.
(* The name was changed at the request of the source for fear of reprisals from Migration).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Virginia Resident Pleads Guilty to Bribing Panamanian Officials for Maritime Contract

If somebody says that paying a kickback is a harmless way to get things done in Panama, run away! This guy discovered the hard way that paying for a re-election campaign in Panama through a dividend is not a good idea.

Does that mean that the Panama PRD officials involved are also guilty of corruption? What will Panama judges do?

Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, November 13, 2009

Virginia Resident Pleads Guilty to Bribing Panamanian Officials for Maritime Contract
WASHINGTON – Charles Paul Edward Jumet of Fluvanna County, Va., pleaded guilty today in connection with his role in a conspiracy to pay bribes to Panamanian government officials to secure a maritime contract, announced Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride, Joseph Persichini Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Jennifer Smith Love, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office and James A. Dinkins, Special Agent-in-Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Office of Investigation, Washington.
Jumet, 53, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis W. Dohnal in Richmond, Va., to a two-count information charging him with conspiring to make corrupt payments to foreign government officials for the purpose of securing business for Ports Engineering Consultants Corporation (PECC) in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA); and making a false statement.
PECC, a company incorporated under the laws of Panama, was affiliated with Overman Associates, an engineering firm based in Virginia Beach, Va. According to Jumet’s plea, PECC was created so Jumet, Overman Associates and others could corruptly obtain a maritime contract from the Panamanian government.
According to court documents, Jumet was involved in a conspiracy to pay money secretly to Panamanian government officials for awarding PECC contracts to maintain lighthouses and buoys along Panama’s waterway. In December 1997, the Panamanian government awarded PECC a no-bid, 20-year concession to perform these duties. In exchange for the concession, Jumet and others authorized corrupt payments to the Panamanian government officials.
In 2000, Panama’s Comptroller General’s Office suspended the contract while it investigated the government’s decision to award PECC a contract without soliciting any bids from other firms. In 2003, the Panama government resumed making payments to PECC.
In connection with his guilty plea, Jumet admitted that from at least 1997 through approximately July 2003, he and others conspired to make corrupt payments totaling more than $200,000 to the former administrator and deputy administrator of Panama’s National Maritime Ports Authority and to a former, high-ranking elected executive official of the Republic of Panama.
In his guilty plea, Jumet also admitted that he knowingly made a false statement to federal agents about a December 1997 "dividend" check payable to the bearer in the amount of $18,000, which was endorsed and deposited into an account belonging to the former, high-ranking elected executive official. Jumet admitted that he had falsely claimed that this "dividend" check was a donation for the high-ranking official’s re-election campaign. Jumet also admitted that the "dividend" check was in fact given to the former official as a corrupt payment for allowing PECC to receive the contract from the Panamanian government.
As part of his plea agreement, Jumet has agreed to cooperate with the Department of Justice in its ongoing investigation. The conspiracy count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the scheme. The false statement count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 12, 2010.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Rina Tucker Harris of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Dry of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. The case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the FBI’s Richmond Field Office and ICE’s Office of Investigation, Richmond and Washington.
Criminal Division

Friday, November 13, 2009

Singapore aerospace companies reach Americas through Panama

Published October 29, 2009

Copa's vote of confidence in ST Aerospace


WHEN ST Aerospace set up a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) service shop for aircraft in Panama in 2006, one of its first customers was Copa Airlines.

Photo - Key location: ST Aerospace set up a facility in Panama as it reckons that it is the perfect place to do business because it is between North and South America

Recently, Copa not only renewed its maintenance service agreement with Panama Aerospace Engineering, ST Aerospace's Panama facility, but extended the agreement beyond its B737 planes to its E-190s.

Obviously, ST Aerospace has a satisfied customer in Copa. The Singapore-based company, which is recognised as the world's largest aircraft MRO service provider, takes it as 'a testament to our high quality and reliable service'.

Copa's gesture augurs well for ST Aerospace, which set up the Panama facility to provide a strong and competitive MRO base to serve the Americas - 'supporting the maintenance needs of customers operating in Central, North and South America', says ST Aerospace president Tay Kok Khiang.

The facility is intended to boost ST Aerospace's capabilities and complements its operations in the US, which remains a key market because it is home to almost half of the world's commercial airliners.

To have customers like Copa coming back - and for more - puts ST Aerospace in a strong position to win more customers in a fast-growing market for aviation services.

In fact, the company has seen its customer base in Panama expand to include clients such as AerCap, AWAS, GECAS, Sundowner Aviation and Transaero Airlines among others.

'This demonstrates our growing success and customers' growing confidence,' says Mr Tay.

ST Aerospace initially faced a shortage of trained aviation mechanics in Panama. But it anticipated this problem. So as it built up the Panama facility, it also started a significant training programme for the locals.

It also deployed some of its expertise from the US and Singapore to help get operations in Panama off the ground.

'Today, the training programme is going well as we have well-educated and enthusiastic employees,' Mr Tay says. 'With our established systems and processes in place within our global network, we were able to share our knowledge to facilitate the start-up process.'

The Panama facility is now performing well, he says. 'It has consistently re-delivered aircraft on time and with quality to customers, and has steadily built a strong track record for the maintenance of narrow-body aircraft, with more than 60 re-delivered to date.'

ST Aerospace reckons that Panama is the perfect place to do business because it is between North and South America.

'It is recognised as an important transport and shipping hub, and we feel it is an ideal location for MRO,' says Mr Tay. 'It is also close to the US, where we have a good client base, and has a good infrastructure.'

The aviation market in Latin America is projected to expand at a rate second only to Asia, mainly in narrow-body aircraft.

'Therefore we expect to continue growing our Latin American customer base,' Mr Tay says. 'As the aviation business recovers and carriers start to build up capacity, and due to competitive advantages that Latin American MROs have, Latin America will be an attractive outsourcing option for US carriers.'

Full text in,4574,356733,00.html? .

Special Focus
Published October 29, 2009

Aviation prospects in Mexico, Brazil, Panama, Argentina: IES

AVIATION opportunities in selected countries seen through the eyes of International Enterprise (IE) Singapore.

Panama: The next 40 years will see the former Howard Military Base transformed into a mixed-use community called Panama Pacifico. The $705 million project includes an airport and logistics hub.

Signalling Panama's commitment to develop the aviation sector at Panama Pacifico, Law 41 offers tax benefits for providers of aviation industry services and aviation maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) services. Aerospace Engineering, an offshoot of Singapore-based ST Aerospace, already has a footprint at Panama Pacifico.
Full text in,4574,356731,00.html ?

The Latin American route

The aviation opportunities Latin America has to offer extend beyond air cargo, reports CHUANG PECK MING

SINGAPORE Airlines Cargo launched flights to several Latin American cities in February this year because it wanted to fly flowers from Ecuador and Colombia to the rest of the world.

Oh, and it was also eyeing a cut of the business of shipping Brazil's electronics exports.

At the moment, the continuing global slump in electronics has kept exports down. But worldwide demand for freshly cut flowers is in bloom again.

'As the world economy picks up, so will air cargo movements in and out of Latin America to various parts of the world,' says Angeline Chan, head of the transport and logisticis division at International Enterprise (IE) Singapore.

Due to the vast size of countries in Latin America, air transport is a vital link, she says. 'There is a need for an efficient and well-connected civil aviation system to link the sparsely inhabited areas with major economic centres. And aviation infrastructure is also necessary infrastructure to support trade in and out of the region.'

Air-services agreements that allow civil aviation between countries, and the physical connectivity of airlines, are essential for cargo traffic, Ms Chan says. So it's good for Singapore air-cargo service providers that Singapore has just signed new air services agreements with several Latin American states.

By end-2008, Singapore had air service agreements with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Panama in Latin America. Since 2009, Ms Chan says IE Singapore, which is pushing Singapore companies to go global, has been helping the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore build a network of air services agreements to link Singapore with major air cargo and passenger routes in Latin America.

For more information about IESingapore, please contact
Ms Jocelyn Cai
International Enterprise Singapore
+ 65 6433 4583 tel+ 65 6337 6898 fax

Panama grants naturalization after 10 years...

5 years as permanent resident, 5 years later for the application to be approved.

The past Torrijos administation was happy to announce it has the largest number of ships registered, corporations formed, dollars taxed, tourists received. However, when it comes to naturalizations, 97 new Panamanians a year is good enough.

Will the new Martinelli change things around and arrange to have a backlog of hundreds of naturalization applications resolved?

Panamá, domingo 17 de febrero de 2008

El lento proceso para una naturalización

Obtener la nacionalidad panameña debe demorar seis meses, pero a veces tarda hasta cinco años.
José Somarriba Hernández

Cuando *Jessica llegó a Panamá, desde Cantón, en China Continental, tenía cuatro años de edad. Para entonces, su familia no imaginaba que esta tierra sería, 21 años después, su segunda patria.

"Estudié kínder, primaria y secundaria, me gradué con el primer puesto de honor. Me fui a estudiar medicina a Cuba, me recibí de doctora con el segundo lugar en la Facultad de Ciencias Médicas Ciego De Ávila", contó.

Hace dos años, Jessica, quien para entonces tenía 23 años de edad, empezó con los procesos de naturalización, pero no imaginó que sería un trámite "tan engorroso, lento y burocrático".

Explicó que todo ese tiempo, su abogada hizo lo imposible porque le entregaran la carta de naturaleza; sin embargo, siempre tropezó con el "poco importa de las autoridades vinculada al tema".

Jessica dice que al final se cansó y le hizo la petición al presidente Martín Torrijos, personalmente y fue así como consiguió su cometido.

La joven fue juramentada en la Gobernación de Panamá como panameña en enero pasado, aunque solo junto a cinco personas más. Las juramentaciones se hacen los últimos jueves de cada mes. Los trámites de Jessica comenzaron en 2006.

La representante legal de Jessica indicó que, al igual que este caso, tiene un cliente que pasa por el mismo problema: "Es un muchacho que llegó desde China con tres años de edad y estudió toda la escuela aquí, incluso se está graduando de arquitectura en la Universidad de Panamá. De no obtener su naturalización no podrá trabajar de arquitecto".


La jurista explicó que el trámite de la carta de naturaleza tiene un costo de unos 2 mil 300 a 2 mil 500 dólares.

Cuando entra la solicitud de naturalización a la Dirección de Migración, se debe pagar 20 dólares.

Luego, 50 dólares más en el Tribunal Electoral, para hacer un examen de geografía, historia y política de Panamá.

Haber estudiado la escuela secundaria en Panamá exime de esta prueba, pero igual debe pagar los 50 dólares.

Después la solicitud es enviada al Ministerio de Gobierno y Justicia y, de allí, al Consejo de Seguridad para, a través de Interpol, conocer si el peticionario ha cometido algún delito.

"Lo malo es que si le hallan alguna falta, por mínima que sea [incluso, una infracción de tránsito] le niegan la naturalización", sostuvo.

Luego de esto, el consejo manda una nota en que recomienda aprobar o negar la carta de naturaleza. Tras lo cual el Presidente debe firmarla.

Ya con la firma, la carta de naturaleza –un documento en forma de diploma– se deben pagar 300 dólares en Migración por el timbre que lleva y 10 dólares más por la caligrafía.

La persona puede juramentarse luego en la Gobernación de Panamá, proceso que es gratuito. Un abogado, por la tramitación, cobra entre mil dólares y 2 mil dólares.


Otro abogado, que prefirió no ser identificado, explicó que el proceso es "muy burocrático", pues debe durar unos seis meses, pero en algunos casos tarda hasta cinco años.

"Tengo clientes desde el gobierno pasado y algunos tienen casi cinco años de estar esperando la naturalización. De hecho, cuando el documento llega al Consejo [de Seguridad] se siente una alegría, pero el Presidente [Martín Torrijos] no los firma. Ni a las notas ni a los impulsos procesales le hacen caso", explicó.

El jurista comentó que tiene poco más de 200 clientes que todavía están a la espera, algunos desde hace cuatro años. De hecho, desde que llegó el actual gobierno, se han aprobado solo tres cartas de naturaleza.

"Una porque la persona se le plantó al Presidente, y las otras dos porque se trata de dos hermanas que tienen un conocido en el Partido Revolucionario Democrático", indicó.

Tayra Barsallo, subdirectora de Migración, dijo que el proceso de las naturalizaciones está contenido en el artículo 10 de la Constitución que sirve de base a su solicitud, la Ley 7 de 14 de marzo de 1980 y el Decreto 59 de 4 de agosto de 1988.

"Quienes aspiran a nacionalizarse deben cumplir con los requisitos de la Constitución y las instituciones", añadió.

Se trató de tener una versión de la Presidencia, pero se nos comunicó que se encontraban en una reunión extraordinaria. *Nombre ficticio

Full text in

Panama, Sunday February 17, 2008

In 2007 only 97 people were naturalized.
The slow process of naturalization
Obtaining the Panamanian nationality should take six months, but sometimes takes up to five years.

Somarriba José Hernández
* When Jessica arrived in Panama, from Canton in mainland China, she was four years old. By then her family could not imagine that this land would, 21 years later, his second home.

"I studied kindergarten, primary and secondary education, I graduated with first place of honor. I went to study medicine to Cuba, I got my doctor for the second place in the Ciego De Ávila School of Medical Sciences" he said.

Two-year-old Jessica, who by then was 23 years old, started with the process of naturalization, but never imagined it would be a formality "as cumbersome, slow and bureaucratic.

He explained that all that time, her attorney did the impossible because he handed the letter to nature, but always ran into the "little matter of the authorities linked to the issue."

Jessica says that eventually grew tired and made a request to President Martín Torrijos, and was personally and got his mission.

She was sworn in the Government of Panama and Panama in January, but only with five others. The oath was made last Thursday of each month. Jessica formalities began in 2006.

Jessica's legal representative said that, like this case, a customer that goes through the same problem: "He's a guy who came from China three years and studied the entire school here, even graduating in architecture at the University of Panama. Due to his failure to obtain naturalization he may not work as an architect. "


The lawyer explained that the pending nature of the letter will cost about 2 thousand 300 a 2 thousand 500 dollars.

When he enters the naturalization application to the Immigration Department, it must pay $ 20.

Then $ 50 more in the Electoral Tribunal to make an examination of geography, history and politics of Panama.

Have studied high school in Panama exempt from this test, but still must pay $ 50.

After the application is sent to the Ministry of Government and Justice and, hence, the Security Council, through Interpol, to know if the person has committed a crime.

"The trouble is that if you find a fault, however minimal [even a traffic violation] denied naturalization," he said.

After this, the council sent a note to recommend approval or deny the certificate of naturalization. After which the President must sign it.

Since the signature, the letter of nature-a document in the form of diploma-$ 300 must be paid by the bell on Migration and carrying $ 10 more for the calligraphy.

The person may then be sworn in the Government of Panama, a process that is free. A lawyer for the processing, charging between thousand and 2 thousand dollars.

Very bureaucratic

Another lawyer, who declined to be identified, explained that the process is "very bureaucratic" because probably take about six months, but sometimes takes up to five years.

"I have customers from government and some have spent almost five years of waiting for naturalization. In fact, when the document is the Council [Security] feel a joy, but President [Martín Torrijos] not the firm. Neither the notes or the process you ignore impulses, "he said.

The lawyer said he has little more than 200 customers are still waiting, some for four years. In fact, since joining the present government has approved only three letters of nature.

"A person because he planted the President and the other two because they are two sisters who have an acquaintance in the Democratic Revolutionary Party," he said.

Tayra Barsallo, Deputy Director of Immigration, said the naturalization process is contained in Article 10 of the Constitution that underlies its application of Law 7 of 14 March 1980 and Decree 59 of August 4, 1988 .

"Those who aspire to become citizens must meet the requirements of the Constitution and the institutions," he added.

We tried to have a version of the Presidency, but we were informed that they were in a special session. * Fictitious name

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why property agents should act only for one party

This letter was written by a reader of a Singapore and explains why conflicts of interest do arise when a real estate agent represent both seller and buyer, as is very frequent in Panama.

property agents should act for only one party: Forum
[2009] 04 Nov_ST

Title: Why property agents should act for only one party: Forum
Source: Straits Times

Legal News Archive

I REFER to last Thursday's Forum Online letters by Mrs Teresa Yao ('How new rules can protect property agents') and Mr Teo Kueh Liang ('Barring same-agent property brokerage not practical').

Both writers have highlighted the plight of the majority of ethical property agents, whose image has been tarnished by a small group of unscrupulous and dishonest agents.

In any profession, it is impossible to completely wipe out the bad hats. Therefore, after an acceptable standard of practice has been established, understood and made into law, non-compliant practices should be punished.

In any property transaction, the two most important parties are the seller and the buyer. They must enter into a legally binding contract in order for the sale to go through. It is therefore natural that we facilitate the interests of the seller and the buyer first.

The interests of the property agent come after those of the seller and the buyer, as his role can come into being only after he has been appointed.

The terms of appointment, that is, what the agent can or cannot do, for example, must be expressedly agreed between him and the one who appoints him, so that there is no ambiguity that leads to future problems.

When the Ministry of National Development puts into law a system for the seller, the buyer and the property agent, it must separately examine the relationship between the seller or buyer and the property agent, from the relationship between the seller and the buyer. If the seller or the buyer chooses to hand the responsibilities over to his agent, he must adequately reward the agent.

To protect his own interests, the property agent should act for only one party and not both.

Patrick Sio

Read also:

Filing complaints against Panama real estate agents
Liability of real estate agents in property purchases

Singapore: Latin America's Asian Partner

Panama has a Free Trade Agreement with Singapore and this year will be participating in the Latin Asia Business Forum starting November 12. The conference coincides with the Asia Pacific Economic Conference APEC which is attended by Mexico, Peru and Chile as Latin American countries.

Singapore companies doing business in Panama include ST Aerospace (Panama Aerospace Engineering) at former Howard AFB, CrimsonLogic at City of Knowledge and soon PSA at the future Farfan port.

Monday, September 17, 2007
Singapore: Latin America's Asian Partner
Latin America is becoming more important for Singapore. Latin American companies can use Singapore as a bridge to China and India.


Latin America is an increasingly important market for Singaporean companies. At the same time, we are beginning to feel more of Latin America's presence and interests in Asia. (..)

The only other combined market that outpaces this growth is Australia and the Middle East, but their base is too small for real comparison. Singapore's trade with Latin America has also been increasing. Between 2004 and 2006, total trade involving Singapore and Latin America grew at an average of 29.1 percent per year to $7.8 billion. However, this constitutes only 1.46 percent of Singapore's total trade.

In terms of investments, it is lesser known fact how much a small nation like Singapore invests in Latin America and the Caribbean. We have invested about $28 billion, albeit much of it directed towards tax havens such as British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. Nevertheless, Singaporean companies have made significant, direct long-term investments in the region. At the end of 2004, Singapore's stock of investments in Brazil ($129 million) and Mexico ($556 million) made us Asia's second largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in each of those countries. Only Japan surpassed us.

What is more significant is the fact that our companies are not investing in resource assets. Instead, Singaporean companies are investing in high employment-generating sectors. Our footprint in the region numbers more than 60 companies in 21 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Latin American companies in Asia.

In a survey conducted by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore last year, we found that companies generally venture into Latin America due to demand for their products and services. More encouragingly, 85 percent of respondents reported that investments have been profitable. Reflecting confidence in business opportunities, more than half (53 percent) of survey respondents expressed an intention to further expand Latin American operations. If we had done a similar survey looking at Singaporean companies doing business in China and India, I do not think we would have found a similar level of profitability.

Today, China and India account for 37 percent of the world's population and constitute 18 percent of the global economy. We can only expect these figures to grow in the foreseeable future, given both real gross domestic product (GDP) growth and the level of private consumption in Asia. It is becoming apparent why most Boards of Directors of Asian and Latin American companies are forcing their business development teams to come up with an Asian strategy.

Two or three years ago, in my position at International Enterprise Singapore­a government agency responsible for helping Singapore-based companies to internationalize operations and foster the development of Singapore as a thriving global trading hub­there was a little procrastination when I wanted to meet Latin American multinational corporation executives. Today it is different; they want to meet and see how we can help with their Asian strategy.


The sheer size and strength of China's economy poses both challenges and opportunities. Singapore's strategy has been to identify niches and complementary areas where we can add value rather than directly compete.

In 2006, Singapore's trade with China stood at $55 billion, an increase of 27 percent over the previous year, making it Singapore's fourth largest trading partner. Since 1997, China has also been the number one investment destination for Singaporean companies. Singapore is China's seventh largest investor, having accumulatively invested more than $15 billion.

Singapore's relationship with China is marked by a very significant role that we played in the early stage of its open door policy. In the late 1980s, our ex-Deputy Prime Minister Mr Goh Keng Swee acted as an economic advisor to Shenzhe­China's first special economic zone.

In 1994, the two countries strengthened their relationship by jointly embarking on a large-scale township development project­the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP). Today, the SIP is a well-managed and integrated township of over 70 square kilometers with excellent infrastructure and a high-quality environment, accommodating 80,000 residents. It has attracted $16 billion in investment, and since inception, its GDP has grown at an average of 45 percent per year.

However, the picture was not always rosy. We did go through our learning curve. We learned that it was not enough to just cultivate relationships at the central government level. From the SIP project, it became clear that relationships should be built at the provincial and municipal levels. It seems obvious today, but in 1990s it was not so apparent.

To ensure these strong relationships continue, we have since adopted several approaches. First, we are using political platforms to strengthen relationships. We have established several G-G level platforms. At the central government level, we have the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation chaired by the Deputy Prime Ministers from both countries. Also, we have developed provincial-level Business Councils to raise awareness about business opportunities and to facilitate Singaporean companies' commercial interests in certain provinces. These Councils allow stronger relationships to be built between the political leadership and also provide avenues for co-investment and dispute resolution.

We are also helping Singapore-based companies internationalize in China. IE Singapore has set- up offices in nine locations in China to provide on-the-ground support for our businesses. Importantly, we have chosen to be selective in our approach and focused on a few key sectors where Singapore companies have solid track records and international reputation (e.g. environmental engineering, water and waste water treatment, healthcare management, education services, infrastructure, and industrial park development).

To attract Chinese investment, Singapore is positioning itself as a gateway to the global economy. Our wide network of free-tade agreements (FTAs), excellent logistics and communications network, and similar language and cultural background make Singapore a natural choice. To date, over 2,300 Chinese companies have established operations in Singapore. Of them, 116 companies have also chosen to list in Singapore to capitalize on our corporate governance standards and capital market depth.


Bilateral trade between India and Singapore has grown to record levels, reaching $13 billion in 2006, an over 20 percent increase from 2005. Singapore investments in India have also grown. We are India's seventh largest inward investor country with cumulative investments worth $1.6 billion. In 2006, Singapore was India's second largest investor.

How have we strengthened our engagement with India? In the last three years, Singapore secured a solid FTA with India. The Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) is providing the framework for a more attractive business environment. The Indian government has also recently decided to set up special economic zones (SEZs) to provide a catalyst for the growth of manufacturing and export sectors. Singapore and India have agreed to jointly set up an SEZ in India, and both sides are working to implement it.

In return, Indian companies have also found Singapore to be a logical springboard to other markets. The more than 2,000 Indian companies in Singapore are using our infrastructure and services to do business globally.

If you are wondering why this is happening, I will let you in on the best kept secret in the business world: the Singapore government has been actively supporting and investing in the export growth of foreign companies based in Singapore that are doing business in Asia and beyond. We provide incentives and grants for business development being coordinated from Singapore for the rest of the world. Shouldn't Latin American companies wanting to grow in Asia also join the club?

Satvinder Singh is the Americas Regional Director at International Enterprise Singapore. This column is based on a Viewpoints Americas from the Americas Society and the Council of the Americas.

Full text in

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Panama Instant Passport Program

The "Instant Passport Program" refers to the Rentista visa or Temporary Residence Visa as an Independent Retired, which has maintained the advantage of an identification booklet whith the same cover as a normal Panama passport - it even reads "Pasaporte" in its front cover. You can see its content in See

Panama authorities clearly warn that this is not a passport and should not be used as a travel document, even though some anxious peddlers on the Internet call it a passport. It is meant more as a fancy picture ID and does not grant Panama citizenship.

--- En date de : Sam 7.11.09, bryan88 a écrit :

De: bryan88
Objet: Panama Instant Passport Program
Date: Samedi 7 Novembre 2009, 1h01

To Mypanamalawyer

There are various websites offering an instant passport from panama stating you only need to deposit money with the national bank of panama for 5 years and you get a passport and residency. I just wanted to find out if it applies and if so,what are the details. I am a South African citizen planning on relocating to Panama within the next year or so and wish to relinquish my South African citizenship but would lose my current passport if I do. If you could please be so kind as to advise me on what to do.

Many Thanks

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Two different views from Illinois and Colorado about business in Panama

Statements for the Record: Any individual or organization wanting to present their views for inclusion in the hearing record should submit a typewritten, single-spaced statement, not exceeding 10 pages in length. Title and date of the hearing, and the full name and address of the individual or organization must appear on the first page of the statement.
Statements must be received no later than two weeks following the conclusion of the hearing.
Statements should be mailed (not faxed) to:
Senate Committee on Finance
Attn. Editorial and Document Section
Rm. SD-219
Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510-6200b

Hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance On "The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement"
Thursday, May 21, 2009 10:00 a.m.
215 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Testimony by Mr. James Owens
Chairman and CEO, Caterpillar, Inc. Peoria, Illinois on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Roundtable and the Latin American Trade Coalition
Caterpillar Washington Office 1425 K Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20005, (202) 466-0672
Chairman Baucus, Ranking Member Grassley, Members of the Committee:
I’m Jim Owens, Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar, Inc. Today, I have the honor to testify on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable and the Latin American Trade Coalition in support of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (also known as the Panama TPA or "TPA").
First a word about the organizations that I represent: - Caterpillar is the world-leading producer of construction and mining machines as well as diesel and gas turbine engines. We are also one of America’s largest exporters.
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing three million businesses of every size, sector, and region.
- The Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S.
companies with $4.5 trillion in annual revenues and more than 10 million employees.
- The 1,200-member strong Latin American Trade Coalition is a broad-based group of U.S. companies, business and agricultural organizations, and local chambers of commerce and other groups representing the largest and most dynamic sectors of our economy.
My company and the business organizations I represent today firmly believe that international trade has a critical role in fostering economic growth for America’s workers, farmers and businesses. The Panama TPA and agreements like it promote sustainable economic growth both here at home and in the economies of our trading partners - in this case a close neighbor and ally, Panama.
The United States has negotiated, signed and implemented successful trade agreements in the Western Hemisphere with Canada, Mexico, Chile, Central America and the Dominican Republic, and Peru. The Panama TPA promises to build on impressive U.S.
export gains in the region.
I’m pleased to report that Caterpillar exports have dramatically benefited from all these free trade agreements (FTAs). Since the FTAs have gone into effect, Cat exports last year quadrupled to the NAFTA countries, tripled to Chile, and nearly doubled to the CAFTA-DR countries.
We believe the Panama agreement will be no exception. The Panama TPA is a frontloaded, ambitious, and comprehensive agreement, with considerable benefits to both the United States and Panama. Most of the tariff cuts on American products will occur as soon as the agreement goes into effect.
The agreement will substantially improve market access for American farm products, consumer and industrial goods, and services in Panama, and it will bolster the rule of law, investor protections, internationally recognized workers’ rights, and transparency and accountability in business and government. The agreement’s strong intellectual property rules and related enforcement provisions will help protect and promote America’s dynamic innovation-based industries and creative artists. The opportunities created by lowering tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S.-Panama trade and investment promise to expand two-way trade opportunities and lift living standards in both countries.
Beyond the purely commercial benefits, the agreement will also strengthen the century-old U.S.-Panama geostrategic partnership. From the time of the Panama Canal’s construction, the United States and Panama have made common cause on issues from security to commerce. Panama has major ports to both the Atlantic and the Pacific, and the Canal is a major transit point for world trade. With one-third of its population speaking English fluently and a fully dollarized economy, Panama is a good friend and partner of the United States. The TPA offers critical support and stronger ties to this close ally in Latin America, a region where attitudes toward the United States and the values it represents - including democracy, transparency and governmental accountability - have taken a decided turn for the worse in many countries.
In Panama, the May 3 election of Ricardo Martinelli to succeed Martin Torrijos as President of Panama signals a continued commitment to close ties to the United States at a time when a number of countries in the region are taking a different course. President-elect Martinelli has called the TPA his new administration’s "number one priority." Panama’s legislature displayed similar enthusiasm with a strong vote in favor of the TPA shortly after its signing, which incorporated new labor and environmental provisions reflected in the May 10 (2007) Bipartisan Agreement on Trade. Both the Panamanian administration and the legislature have been responsible partners in working to meet the additional requests that have subsequently been raised by the U.S. Congress and administration.
Looking forward, the agreement with Panama is an important step in the U.S. strategy to promote trade liberalization and economic integration with the region. As well as being a gateway from the Pacific to the Atlantic, Panama is a literal and figurative bridge between Central and North America on one end and South America on the other. U.S. total exports to trade agreement partners in the Western Hemisphere reached $471 billion in 2008. This region represents a significant and growing market that has largely avoided the worst of the current economic crisis. We urge Congressional consideration of the trade agreements with Panama and Colombia as the next step in this important strategy.
Opening Markets Above all else, the TPA further opens Panama’s market to products and services made by American workers, farmers, and companies. Panama’s purchases of U.S.
manufactured goods and farm products reached $4.6 billion last year, and the $4.2 billion U.S. merchandise trade surplus with Panama in 2008 was among the largest with any country. Goods exports to Panama from Illinois - where Caterpillar is headquartered - have grown quickly in recent years, surpassing $110 million in 2008, led by rapid growth in exports of machinery.
The United States is far and away Panama’s largest trading partner, with a 33% share of Panama’s imports, and purchasing 36% of all Panamanian exports. The $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal is now moving ahead and presents significant opportunities for U.S. companies to provide goods and services to the government of Panama as they embark on one of the largest public works project since the Three Gorges Dam in China.
We are also excited about construction of a new metro system in Panama City and the Petaquilla mine, which will be the 5th largest copper mine in the world.
The trade agreement will grant U.S. firms outstanding access to the Panamanian market and the chance to compete in selling everything from heavy equipment to engineering services.
U.S. export success in Panama comes despite a fundamental imbalance in the proverbial playing field. The United States unilaterally opened its market to Panama and its neighbors through the Caribbean Basin Initiative in 1983 and expanded that access through successive acts with the support of strong bipartisan majorities in Congress. Currently, under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), fully 96% of all imports from Panama already enter the U.S. market duty-free. By contrast, Panama’s average applied duty on imports of manufactured goods is 10%, and agricultural products face even higher tariffs. In other words, Panama enjoys virtually free access to our marketplace, while U.S. products continue to be taxed at steep rates when entering Panama.
The unilateral preferences have always been subject to re-authorization by Congress with no guarantees that they would be continued. Without the extension of these preferential programs, Panama risks immediately losing a significant part of its exports. Losing access to the U.S. market would hurt the Panamanian economy resulting in lost jobs and a lower standard of living.
The TPA makes Panama’s favorable access to our markets permanent and provides additional benefits in the form of improved market functioning and enhanced economic growth. In other words, the TPA will provide continuity in a long-term U.S. policy with regard to Panama - one that boosts economic development and reinforces democratic consolidation.
The TPA will also cut Panama’s tariffs on U.S. products, and as a result it will transform an imbalanced trade relationship into a more mutually beneficial, reciprocal partnership. The day the agreement enters into force, 88% of Panama’s tariffs on U.S.
consumer and industrial goods and a majority of the tariffs on U.S. farm exports will be eliminated. In turn, the agreement locks in Panama’s access to the U.S. market, creating a new level of certainty for investors and traders in that country.
The Rule of Law
Intellectual Property: The agreement will strengthen protection and enforcement of U.S. trademarks, patents, and geographic indicators, internet domain names and copyrighted works, creating new opportunities for U.S. innovation-based and creative industries in Panama. In specific terms, the Panama TPA includes strong intellectual property enforcement mechanisms and penalties provisions, including the criminalization of end-user piracy and counterfeiting and the authority to seize and destroy not only counterfeit goods but also the equipment used to produce them. The agreement also provides necessary mechanisms to fight the problem of trans-shipment of counterfeit goods with specific provisions that are aimed at goods-in-transit.
Investment Protections and Dispute Settlement: U.S. direct investors in Panama will benefit from the strong investment chapter in the agreement, particularly the sections dealing with investment protections and dispute settlement. The agreement provides for rights that are consistent with U.S. law and also contains fully transparent dispute settlement procedures that are open to the public and allow interested parties to provide their input. As such, these trade agreements provide an opportunity for the partner countries to improve their investment climate by undertaking legal and judicial reforms and resolving investment disputes (e.g., the criminalization of commercial disputes).
Increased Transparency: The agreement’s dispute settlement mechanisms provide for open public hearings, public access to documents, and the opportunity for third parties to submit views. Transparency in customs operations will aid express delivery shipments, and will require more open and public processes for customs rulings and administration. For customs procedures, Panama committed to publish laws and regulations on the Internet and, to the extent possible, will publish proposed regulations in advance and allow interested parties an opportunity to comment on the proposals. Moreover, transparency in these areas is an essential tool in combating corruption and promoting habits of transparency in government.
Like much of Latin America, Central America struggles against corruption, which undermines growth, security, and stability. The Panama TPA contains critical provisions to enhance transparency and accountability in governance, providing the countries with important tools to fight the scourge of corruption. As an example, the agreement provides for the criminalization of bribery in government procurement, providing for better and more efficient procurement on the part of the Panamanian government entities but also affording a more competitive marketplace.
Environmental stewardship has long been a priority for Panamanians as the Canal is dependent on protection of the forests in the huge watershed that allows this engineering marvel to function. The Canal expansion now underway is expected to allow 70% of the fresh water that was previously lost from the locks to be recycled, saving 28-35 million gallons per ship, 40-50 times per day.
The Panama TPA also promotes U.S. security interests by forging a deeper partnership with Panama through a framework for government-to-government relationships that is grounded in the tangible national interests of all parties. Such a framework is vital to enhancing cooperation in numerous areas, including tax information exchange; it also sets an example for other countries around the world as we pursue our global security goals. By promoting economic growth in Panama, the TPA will give a boost to its economy and provide its citizens with long-term growth opportunities.
That concludes my remarks. At this time I would be pleased to answer any questions.
Thank you very much.

The Meneren Corporation
4610 South Ulster Street, Suite 150 • Denver, CO 80237 • (303) 221-3369 • Fax (303) 972-8669
7 June 2008

Senate Committee on Finance
Attn. Darci Vetter
Rm. SD-219
Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510-6200b

Subject: Corruption in Panama, Human Rights Abuse and Trade Agreements

Dear Darci and Committee Members:
I am writing you regarding a serious foreign relations matter regarding the Republic of Panama and the corruption of its legal system and the regular and organized abuse of US Citizens and their civil and human rights—all of which should be considered in any discussion of trade agreements.
I am one of many Colorado businessmen (and a number of CO Corporations and LLC’s) who have been actively doing business in Panama for the past 3 years. During that time, I have witnessed first-hand the extend of the corruption of the Panama legal system, and the systematic robbing of US and Canadian investors (both professionals and retiree’s) by cabals of Panamanian attorney’s, prosecutors, law enforcement officials and other government officials—
all the way to the Supreme Court. I having seen it firsthand and discussed it in detail with the Americans and Canadians who have suffered financially and personally because of it. It is a travesty that should not be rewarded with a Free Trade Agreement of any form.
The most public example of this corruption can be seen in the case of the handling of the estate of Wilson Lucom, a past advisor to the US Secretary of State and his attorney, Richard Lehman, a Florida attorney and US citizen, who has been for 3 years attempting to prevent one of the Panamanian oligarchy’s from stealing the $50+M estate of Wilson Lucom—which Lucom left to the orphans of Panama in the largest ever bequeath of its kind.
The Panamanian government/authorities have relentlessly abused the civil and human rights of Mr. Lehman as he tried to protect the Lucom state, to ensure the money reaches the poor children of Panama and the Charity formed to accept it. This story has received major press coverage in the US and Panama.
You can see the full litany of false charges, false arrests, assaults on the Civil and Human Rights of this US citizen in the documents filed with the Organization of American States, at:
It is important to note that in November 2008 the head of the Panama Governments National Council of Transparency for Corruption, Alma Montenegro de Fletcher, herself published a finding that found “extreme abuse of the Panamanian civil and penal system”, noting the false arrest of a US Citizen who was defending the interests of the children of Panama, Mr. Lehman, a Florida attorney and long time friend and lawyer for Wilson Lucom. The details of Alma’s letter to the Panama Supreme Court can be found at the following (translated) website:
To be clear, neither I, nor my business associates are a part of the Probate dispute that Mr. Lehman is battling in Panama. However, when Mr. Lehman was recently detained illegally in Panama—again—I was so upset that a US Citizen could be so abused by the Panamanian government and corrupt legal system that I wrote a “Call to Action” that was circulated among the expatriate community in Panama. As a result, I have received numerous other horror stories from US and Canadian businessmen and retiree’s detailing the systematic pillage of their retirement monies, trust funds, and properties by lawyers acting in concert with local and federal government officials (prosecutors and judges), all with impunity! One of these relates how the Panamanian attorney that stole her retirement monies told her to her face that he robbed her and that there was nothing she could do about it because he was a member of the Panamanian legislature. I would be most happy to share the details of these and other similar cases with you or your staff.
As a businessman, I have done business in many of the ugly parts of the world (Congo, Yemen, Kazakhstan, China etc.) and I understood their corrupt systems before setting foot on the ground. However, Panama holds itself out to US retiree’s and businesses as being a US friendly country that has a US currency, US provided infrastructure and institutions, statutory protections for US Citizens (including a guarantee of “equal access” under the law), and preferential agreements with the US government (FTA’s). US and Canadian citizens are entranced by this façade to make major investments in Panama totally unaware of the extent of corruption of their judiciary and other government officials. This is a recipe for disaster for US interests, and damages the future of the Panamanian people as well.
When we contacted the US Embassy in Panama over a year ago to describe how our firm/project was being manipulated by the corrupt courts and officials, we found a sympathetic ear and could see some effort was being made to press the Government to “clean up their legal system”. Unfortunately, when the Ambassador and key staff changed, the Embassy position turned to one of indifference coupled with a clear desire not to press the issue with the Government. As a result, US Citizens like Mr. Richard Lehman and many others who we have documented, have been, and continue to be abused with impunity.
As a US Citizen, I am shocked that our Government allows this to continue—with impunity and that our Government is willing to turn a blind eye to it by rewarding Panama with a trade agreement that prospers Panama. I ask that you have your staff research the human rights case mentioned and provided above and use it as a symptomatic reason for opposing any further Free Trade Agreements with Panama until it cleans up the corruption. Until then, I also ask that US State Department US Citizen advisories be updated to sternly warn US investors and retiree’s of the escalation in the organized abuse of foreigners by a corrupt judiciary working in concert with unscrupulous lawyers and government officials.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

William A. Tolbert

Senate Finance Committee Hearing on "The U.S. - Panama Trade Promotion Agreement" May 21, 2009

Panama FTA will create US jobs

US-Panama Free Trade Links .

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Panama - a trust jurisdiction in a Civil Law region



Panama is traditionally considered a Civil Law jurisdiction like the rest Latin America where judges construe the law as stated in Codes. However, its long relationship with the United States makes it an exception in a region where laws originate from French Civil Code. As of this day:

  • the U.S. Dollar is currency of legal tender since 1904,

  • the 1917 law of commercial paper is based on the U.S. Uniform Negotiable Instruments Law,

  • the 1927 corporation law is based on the law of Delaware of the time,

  • trusts may be formed since 1925.

The original 1925 law was changed in 1941 and finally its current version of Law 1 of 1984. Its main features are:

1. Simplicity of execution: Trust deeds may be granted by private document, granted by the settlor before a Notary Public anywhere in the world.

2. Contractual freedom: A settlor can grant a deed with any clauses or distribution plans as long as they are not contrary to law, morality or public interest. This extends to allow the possibility of post-mortem distributions different from those of the settlor's estate laws or forced heirship rules. The law also allows practitioners to draft trust deeds for execution of Sharia-complaint trusts or appointing a protector as a limit to trustee powers.

3. Duration: The duration of the trust can be indefinite, which represents a change from the rule against perpetuities in the previous 1941 law.

4. Confidentiality: Trust deeds do not need to be made public by their registration (unless real estate in Panama is being settled). The trustee and its employees are subject to a duty of confidentiality. Breaches of said duty are subject to imprisonment or monetary fines.

5. No citizenship requirements: Individuals or entities of any country can serve as settlors, trustees or beneficiaries. None of the parties need to be Panamanian, except for the attorney which serves as resident agent.

6. No trustee requirements: Any capable person or entity may serve as trustee and does not need to be authorised by a government authority, unless they market themselves as such on a regular basis. Trustees serving as commercial custodians may seek to apply for a trustee license from the Superintendent of Banks in which case the trustee is subject to quarterly reporting, capital adequacy ratios and know-your-customer rules similar to those of banks.

7. Charitable or for-profit purpose: Trust provisions may appoint a general class of beneficiaries or unborn beneficiaries. Alternatively, trusts may also serve for commercial transactions, such as securitization of receivables or other assets.

8. Revocability option: Trusts are irrevocable by default, unless parties decide otherwise.

9. Separate patrimony: Trust assets are deemed as separate from assets of the settlor and trustee. Therefore, creditors of the settlor1 or trustee – such as commercial creditors or inheritance creditors in probate cases - cannot seize assets settled. Trust assets may be seized for liabilities incurred or damages caused from the performance of trust or by third parties when assets have been transfered or withheld by fraud.

10. Low local taxation: Income earned from assets located abroad or funds held in any bank in Panama are exempt from local Panama taxes. However, legislation from the countries of residence or citizenship of the settlor or trustee may impose additional tax obligations.

11. Minimum reporting requirements: Trusts without assets in Panama or not earning income in Panama are exempt from having to file tax returns or financial statements. Trustees are required to render account of their performance to the beneficiaries and maintain a duty of care under the bonus pater familiae standard.

Conflicts of Laws

The trust is subject to Panama law once it is stated in the trust deed. However, parties may agree to settle disputes under foreign law.

Disputes by default are resolved by Panama courts under a summary procedure with a shorter evidentiary stage. Parties may agree to have controversies settled by arbitration or before foreign courts.

Panama trusts may be transferred to another country when the trust deed allows so.

Foreign trusts may be subject to Panama law, as long as the trustee alone or jointly with the settlor, states so.

Foreign trusts are subject to Panama law, when enforcing their rights in court.2

Panama is not a member of The Hague 1985 Convention on the Law Applicable to Trusts and on their Recognition. Panama courts have cooperated in international service of process under international comity rules, but strictly enforce confidentiality and trust privilege granted by trust law3. National treatment is granted to nationals under Bilateral Investment Treaties (with U.S. and other countries) and Free Trade Agreements (Singapore and – pending ratification by Congress - U.S.).

1A vehicle held in trust by a trustee company for the benefit of its driver, cannot be seized by a government-owned bank to satisfy consumer debt of said driver. Decision of March 2, 2004, by Supreme Court of Justice – Administrative Section, Case 281-08.

2When a will granted in Panama by a St. Kitts national which appointed a St. Kitts & Nevis trust as heir. The trustee of the Nevis trust – not the trust itself - was held to be the rightful representative of the heir, because both Panama and St. Kitts trust laws consider the trust to be a relationship between settlor, trustee and beneficiary but not a separate entity in itself. Decision of May 4, 2007, by First Superior Tribunal of Justice, In re Estate of Wilson Charles Lucom.

3Two Panamanian principals of a BVI trustee company may answer the deposition requested by Polish authorities through exequatur but not provide copies of the trust documents. Decision of December 30, 2004, by Supreme Court of Justice – General Affairs Section, Case 110-04.

See also:
Should You Use an Offshore Entity?
US forms required for Panama trust and other non-US entities