Monday, February 23, 2009

Panama to Watch Among Top Budget Travel Destinations for 2009

10 to Watch

Top Budget Travel Destinations for 2009 reveals the best value hotspots for the New Year.
By Editors, Monday, January 5, 2009 |

These countries are hardly undiscovered, but it's not too late to enjoy them either. Plan a trip in 2009, so you can say you knew these places before they were overrun.



Why in 2009: Panama has led tourism growth in Central and South American countries for two years running, posting back-to-back 20 and 30 percent gains in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Last year, the country surpassed the one-million-visitors mark, welcoming 1.2 million leisure travelers. That's about how popular Costa Rica was in 1999—before it emerged as a solidly mainstream destination. Compared with Costa Rica, Panama has more animal species and a larger amount of preserved terrain filled with colorful macaws, monkeys, and endangered shore birds.

Main events: The Panama Jazz Festival, held January 1–17, will feature saxophonist Wayne Shorter's quartet (, from $10). Panama's Carnival celebrations, running February 2–24, are some of the largest pre-Lenten parties in the world. The bulk of the parades and revelry will take place in Panama City and Las Tablas (

Memorable moment: Climb Cerro Jefe (Boss Mountain) in Chagres National Park, whose summit stands nearly 3,000 feet above sea level. When the weather cooperates, you can see the Panama Canal and both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans ( Back in the capital, thread your way through the cobbled streets lined with Spanish mansions in the colonial-era district of Casco Viejo, used as a stand-in for Haiti in many scenes in Quantum of Solace.

Price check: American Airlines Vacations has a three-night winter stay at the Veneto Hotel & Casino from $87 per person per night ( Keep a lid on costs by booking at locally owned inns. Among TripAdvisor's top rated B&Bs in Panama is La Estancia (011-507/314-1581,, from $75 for singles and doubles). It's on a hill next to a nature reserve.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Panama nightmare" From COTA Member, before you decide to do business in Panama, must read!

Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2009 11:02:40 -0700 [02/14/2009 01:02:40 PM EST]
From: Gil Cisneros
Subject: "Panama nightmare" From Bill Tolbert, COTA Member, before you decide to do business in Panama, must read!

For further information please contact Bill at:

Gil: Following is the issue in more detail along with key articles and web links. Grand Panama International, a member of the Chamber of the Americas is asking for your personal action on this matter as it greatly scars the Panama market for US Citizens and businessmen.

To help you understand the level and kind of abuse currently being endured by US Citizens and American business interests in Panama, and related damage to Panamanian charities formed to meet the pressing needs of the children of Panama, I ask that you read a series of articles in US media outlets such as Time Magazine, The New York Times, LA Times, and others. The attempt to steal the large estate of Wilson Lucom, a former assistant to the US Secretary of State, has been well covered in various US media outlets. The first of these is in Time Magazine:,9171,1680177,00.html The second of these is in the International Herald Tribune: The third can be found in the Los Angeles Times:

To understand how a wealthy Panamanian family and their corrupt attorney have abused the legal system in Panama, including the bribery of various officials, you can see the detailed account entitled “Report to the Attorney General of Panama” which can be found 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, 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. Richard 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:

In order to understand the critical and dangerous nature of the ongoing corruption, one needs to read how the organizer of a march on the Panama Supreme Court building organized by Mr. Lehman on behalf of the children of Panama was shot within days of the march. See:

Fast forward to February 2009, Mr. Lucom’s Florida attorney, Richard Lehman, the US Citizen and trusted friend and attorney of Wilson Lucom, flies into Panama to meet with the Panamanian charities organized to accept the bequeath of Wilson Lucom on behalf of the poor and orphaned children. When he tries to depart Panama City to return to the US, Mr. Lehman is removed from the US plane, and placed under false arrest at the airport, waiting 16 hours for the “problem with immigration” to be clarified. Then it turns out that the head of Immigration finds there is no cause, yet a week later Mr. Lehman still cannot leave Panama because the airport authorities keep changing the basis for the detention and the Judge that can verify that there are no legal arrest warrants will either not meet with Mr. Lehman or provide him the necessary releases.

If you found yourself under arrest at a foreign airport, you would immediately call the US Embassy—right? So did Richard. Unfortunately, no one at the Embassy would answer the after-hours “Emergency” number (which is always answered at any Embassy, by the Marine guard if necessary) and when the phone is finally answered at 8am the next Monday, the operator indicates she does not have any idea how to help and will find the “Officer of the Day”. When the OD comes on line, they inform Mr. Lehman that they “don’t have any idea how to help him”. (The proper response is always, I do not know how to handle this but I will find out. How can I get right back to you)? The Embassy staff later claims that it is “judicial matter”, and they cannot help…even though Lehman’s Florida Congressman had sent the US Ambassador personal letter months ago fearing for the safety of Mr. Lehman. When others complain on Mr. Lehman’s behalf, they are told that Mr. Lehman is staying at a hotel as if that was good enough.

What were the US Government excuses for not acting immediately in defense of this US Citizen?

First, it is that the individual at the center of the Probate dispute, Wilson Lucom, “was not a US Citizen” as he had given up his US Citizenship when he move to Panama. So what!!! Richard Lehman is a US Citizen. Wilson Lucom’s only legally adopted child, Isabel Clark is the first in line to inherit her father’s estate under Panamanian law. She is a US Citizen living in California, and she can’t get the Courts to recognize her rights, nor can she get the State Department to act in defense of Mr. Lehman.

The US investors that purchased the largest asset in the Lucom estate, a 7,000+ acre waterfront ranch on the Pacific Coast of Panama, are US Citizens and the Panamanian courts are ignoring their legal claims and positioned their suit under a Judge who has at least twice before been censured for corruption. So much for the “equal access under the law” rights of US Citizens and US business interests in Panama. They are being abused by the corrupt legal system in Panama—confirmed by their own Transparency Commission—and the Embassy responds that they can’t get involved because “Wilson Lucom was not a US Citizen”. How ridiculous!

The next excuse is that “there are Probate disputes in the US as well”. My heavens, how does that apply to this? In the US, those Probate disputes have not been characterized by the US government itself as corrupt and an “extreme abuse” of the US civil and penal system!

The next excuse is that “the US cannot get involved in a civil proceeding” and that Panama has “an independent judiciary”. That’s strange, the outgoing US Ambassador was on the record numbers of time about the corruption of the Panama legal system. And you have the Panamanian Governments own Ms. Montengero confirming it!

What is going on? Perhaps it has to do with having a new American Ambassador in Panama who does not want to take a firm stand early on with the Panamanian Government.

Perhaps it has to do with the State Department not wanting to take any action that would endanger the US-Panama free trade pact that is currently before the Congress…which action this type of corruption and legal system abuse should call into question.

Perhaps it is just the terrible twins of ignorance and complete incompetence of behalf of the new Ambassador and her staff.

What is certain is that the “story line” being propagated by the US State Department Panama Desk and the US Embassy in Panama do not comport with the well documented history and clear facts in this heinous situation.

What is clear is that US Citizens and US business interests are being consistently abused by a corrupt Panamanian legal system and that US Citizen civil rights are being ignored by Panamanian authorities with impunity, while the US Embassy looks on washing its hands of any meaningful involvement (“Pilatos” in Spanish).

What is clear is that a well established Panamanian oligarchy can manipulate a corrupt legal system and culture and steal the lifelong estate of a former US Citizen, and from the orphans of Panama and other US interests, to keep their station in life – all as if the Noriega regime was still in power.

What naturally follows such blatant abuse is that every US Citizen and US businessman must worry about who will protect their investments and estates in Panama if the Panamanian legal system can be so completely corrupted and the US Government so clearly unwilling to act to protect US Citizens and businessmen.

What is clear is that every American citizens and businessmen who do not want this to happen to them, must take immediate action to get the US Government actively involved in protecting the rights of US Citizens and US business interests in Panama—and do it now!

I ask your support in contacting all Colorado Congressional and Senate staff to inform them of these recent dangerous events and prompt them to demand proper answers from the State Department and the US Embassy, Panama, of why they are not actively involved in protecting this US Citizen and others, along with other US business interests in Panama.

I also urge you, on behalf of the Chamber, to call/write the US Ambassador in Panama, Barbara Stephenson, 011-507-207-7000, general email: to find out why Mr. Lehman did not receive immediate and meaningful support and intervention in what is a very public corruption case documented as so by the head of the Panamanian Commission on Transparency and Corruption herself.

I also urge you to call the State Departments Panama Desk Officer, Marcia Singer, 202-647-3505, , and add your rejection of their simple minded excuses for inaction as well.

Gil, this is a serious matter that will damage Panama as well as those who have or will invest in Panama.


William A. Tolbert

La Estrella de Panamá - The Panama Star
Florida Attorney detained 15 hours at Tocumen airport - [ Translate this page ]
Lehman 5 days prisoner - [ Translate this page ]
The Lucom legacy
Las Uvas: Fever in the coast

La Voz Nueva
Legal case clouding Panama/U.S. commerce

Youtube video
100 acres of beachfront are misappropiated


Sunday, February 08, 2009

2009 Panama City plate locations

This is the list of Panama City Municipal offices where 2009 car plates are available depending on the ending of their numbers.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

HSBC and CreditSuisse targeted for IRS probe

Business :: -->
IRS investigates Credit Suisse for tax fraud, says NY Times
Updated 18:07 New York, NY, USA (TSR, Fre) - First UBS and now Credit Suisse: the IRS, in inquiries which are increasingly far-reaching into fiscal evasion and fraud by US citizens and their overseas banks, has reportedly been investigating Credit Suisse and London-based HSBC since September, according to the New York Times. But Credit Suisse in Zurich says it has no knowledge of such investigations and HSBC saying the same.

The banks are suspected by the IRS of helping US taxpayers “hide assets of up to $30 million in offshore accounts,” reports the paper. To date no names of managers have surfaced and Credit Suisse refused to comment on the article, reports TSR, but it does insist it observes all laws and regulations.

Posted by :: Ellen Wallace on 2 December 2008 at 17:24 permalink

HSBC, Credit Suisse added to federal probe, report says

Posted by Associated Press December 02, 2008 10:42AM
NEW YORK -- The Department of Justice has added Credit Suisse and HSBC to an investigation into foreign banks that sell offshore private banking services, according to a report Tuesday in The New York Times.
The Justice Department was already investigating whether Swiss banking giant UBS AG helped U.S. taxpayers hide assets overseas to avoid paying taxes.
The Justice Department declined to comment on the investigation.
Credit Suisse spokesman Jan Vonder Muehll in Zurich said the bank has no knowledge of any investigation against it by U.S. authorities.
HSBC spokesman Donal McCarthy in London said, "We are not aware of HSBC being investigated in connection with its offshore private banking services in the U.S. and HSBC has not received any contact from the U.S. authorities with regard to any such investigation."
McCarthy added that HSBC complies with all laws in countries where it does business and "cooperate with investigations when required to do so."
The Times, citing unnamed sources, said the investigation into Credit Suisse and HSBC began in September and is focusing on whether the two banks illegally helped wealthy American clients hide $30 billion overseas to avoid declaring the cash to the Internal Revenue Service. The investigation will determine if the clients themselves violated any laws as well.
Last week, UBS said it uncovered cases of tax fraud by some of its U.S. clients after it examined files as a result of the Justice Department investigation. The U.S. had initially asked for assistance in July.
UBS Chairman Peter Kurer said an investigation turned up a "limited number of cases of tax fraud under both U.S. and Swiss law."
Last month, a senior UBS executive was charged in the United States with conspiring to hide $20 billion in assets from the IRS.
The indictment claims that the chief of UBS' wealth management business, Raoul Weil, helped about 20,000 U.S. clients conceal assets in offshore accounts between 2002 and 2007. About 17,000 of the customers hid their identities and their Swiss bank accounts from the IRS and many of them filed false income tax returns, according to the indictment.

Tocumen airport parking

-------------------- FROM: western_canuck  DATE: Thu, 5 Feb 2009 00:16:17 -0800 (PST)  SUBJECT: airport parking   Does anyone know what the long term rate is for parking at  the Tocumen airport? Leaving for a couple weeks and would  just prefer to take my own vehicle to the airport and leave  it in long term parking ....  
The long term rate is of US$10 per day and is posted online at
Installations » Parking

Tocumen International Airport has a parking area of approximately 25,000 m2, located in front of the passenger terminal's main building. The cost of parking per hour or fraction of an hour is listed in the following table:

Lengt of Time
Up to 1: 00 hour
B/. 1.00
From 1:01 a 2:00 hours
B/. 1.50
From 2:01 a 3:00 hours
From 3:01 a 4:00 hours
From 4:01 a 6:00 hours
From 6:01 a 12:00 hours
From 12:01 a 24:00 hours
1 Day or more
B/.10.00 per Day

In the event the parking ticket is lost, the user will have to pay 10 balboas (B/. 10.00).