Sunday, December 11, 2011

London, the citadel of the offshore world

Why bother with black lists and immobilization of bearer bonds in BVI and other countries? You can get bearer shares from United Kingdom Limited Liability entities and be welcome by tax authorities and banks in most countries which have black lists copied verbatim from the France-based OECD.

The final irony is that Panama and the United Kingdom will start negotiations for a double-taxation agreement


The modern offshore company, which began its all-conquering journey in the islands which once formed the British Empire in the 1970s and 80s, can justifiably be described as an English invention. At that time, it was also possible to incorporate so-called "non-resident" companies in England, which, if managed from outside of the United Kingdom, were not subject to taxation in England, although even then London could never have been described as a classic offshore zone.

This possibility ended in the early 90s, but, England, and in particular, London remained an extremely popular place for the incorporation of companies, for both English and foreign businesses alike. Numerous businessmen chose to incorporate in London; Companies House now boasts a register with over three million companies, ranging from small business to multinational companies. So what makes people want to incorporate in London?

The tax advantages related to English companies

The above shows quite clearly that English companies cannot be categorized as traditional tax-free companies, and in fact they are quite the opposite. How, therefore, can English companies be used advantageously in international business transactions? The following section shows just two of the possible uses.

Trading company for nominee purposes.

Blacklists have meant problems for a large number of offshore companies, particularly those providing services. One very efficient way of overcoming this problem is by using an English company, which concludes a special contract with the offshore company, which may be incorporated in a traditional offshore zone such as The Bahamas, BVI or Belize. According to the terms of the contract, the English company concludes contracts with foreign partners on behalf of the offshore company, prepares invoices for the total amount of the services provided, and receives full payment into its bank account, although the offshore company actually provides the services. Periodically (as defined in the contract between the English and offshore companies), the English company is entitled to an agency fee of between 5 & 10 % of the value of the contracts concluded. The English company must declare this income and pay tax accordingly, whereas, the remaining 90-95 %, is transferred to the account of the offshore company, as set down in the contract. An offshore company is subject to tax in England on income with an English source. Although the offshore company operates through an English resident company, the actual source of the income is not England, but the foreign partner. At the same time, it is an important condition that the offshore company should be managed from outside England, and that the directors, shareholders and bank account signatories of the offshore and English companies should not be the same people.

Dual resident companies

An English company must be classified as resident in England if it was incorporated in England and/or the majority of the directors are resident in England and manage the company from England. However, according to the agreements made by England for the avoidance of double taxation (DDTs) it is possible for a company to be resident in two or more places, if, for example, it is managed from a different company. Such companies are known as "dual resident companies". As long as the company is managed from a country which is protected by a DDT, then the company can apply to the English tax authorities to be taxed in that country rather than in England. And if that country has more favorable rates of taxation, then it is worth operating the company as a dual resident company. Currently, the most attractive jurisdiction with which England has signed a DDT is Cyprus. According to Cypriot law, if a company, or a branch of that company, operates outside Cyprus, then that branch is subject to the 4.25% profit tax of the worldwide income. The English company becomes resident in Cyprus by establishing an offshore branch there. The majority of the directors of the English company must be Cypriots and all the decisions relating to the running of the company must also be managed from outside England, preferably from Cyprus. Similarly, the company must not receive income from English sources. This is all the more problematic as activities carried out in England are subject to VAT. Dual resident companies must file annual returns in both Cyprus and England, but can also take advantage of the DDTs signed by Cyprus.

This information is not intended and should not be construed as concrete tax advice. Should you wish to make use of one or any of the structures mentioned, we recommend that you consult your personal tax adviser, as well as experts on the legal systems of all the countries involved.

Source: LAVECO brochure. Extract posted with thanks to N. Remé (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, EJP).
Photo: UK Inland Revenue offices

Former strongman returns to Panama "largely irrelevant"

PANAMA CITY, Panama - More than two decades after the U.S. forced him from power, Manuel Noriega returned to Panama on Sunday as a prisoner and, to many of those he once ruled with impunity, an irrelevant man.
Some Panamanians feel hatred for the former strongman and rejected American ally; a few others nostalgia. But as he returned to his native country for the first time since his ouster, it seemed like few people had any strong feelings at all.

Noriega was convicted in absentia in three homicide cases involving 11 murders, including the 1985 beheading of Hugo Spadafora, a physician who threatened to reveal Noriega's drug ties, and the 1989 execution-style slaying of nine officers who staged a failed coup.

Sentenced to 20 years in each case, he will serve the terms concurrently. Official photographs of the facility prepared for him at the El Renacer prison showed a spartan, beige-painted cell with a bathroom, table and small bed.

Noriega will also face charges over the 1970 murder of Heliodoro Portugal, an opponent of Panama's military leaders.

Panamanian media showed images confirming the imprisonment of the former strongman, while pointing out at the cameras.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Las Uvas: The town that only exists in paper


The desolate lands in coveted Juan Hombrón

Before the coastal peninsula became a public issue, 'La Estrella' visited it twice in three years and found no traces of human life in the place

12.07.2011 Title resolutions issued by the Ministry of Finance for the twelve corporations listed 45 people. The vast majority alleged land holders, the others, witnesses, 'who have declared under oath that they are residents and residents of the community in Juan Hombrón Las Uvas, district of the chiru, a district of Antón, Cocle province '.

In almost all cases the residence period exceeds 20 years. In no case is less than five.

I tried to visit the community of Las Uvas three years ago, on November 13, 2008 to be exact. A few miles west of Rio Hato is a stone path that runs from the Panamerican highway to the sea, where the five or six houses of Juan Hombrón are.

If the tide is low, the peninsula can be reached on foot or by car.

I drove along its length. A group of investors were attempting to obtain title land which rights of possession they had bought from some fishermen, and I researched for La Estrella.

I found a strip of sand, half covered on the lagoon side of the scattered scrub. Aside from insects, crabs and birds, it was empty of animal life, and the only trace of human life were a couple of decaying ranches, rotting from rust.

I could not visit the community because there was none! although 45 people have said, 'under oath', who resided in it when I visited the peninsula.

In January this year, the 28th, two journalists from La Estrella went there. Cortez Zelideth reporter and photographer Luis Garcia.

They found the same as me, except that now there are three ranches. Apart from the two and their guides, no one was there.

What would have happened to the 45 residents? Could it be that, on both occasions, they were all on vacation.

Residents often have residences. What has happened to them? Neither I nor Luis Zelideth not see nothing worthy of appeal. Perhaps the residents, such as snails, had brought, or penalty of perjury may not weigh much in the Las Uvas, as elsewhere.

Zelideth and Luis spoke with some of the persons mentioned in the land title resolutions.

They live near Anton, several miles from Las Uvas. They said that sometimes, when fishing, they spend the night in Las Uvas.

It may be true, although it would have been necessary to bring drinking water, for on the peninsula there is not a drop. You may tell the truth, but spending a night in a place from time to time is something different from what the alleged inhabitants of Las Uvas declared "under penalty of perjury ', and gives no possessory rights over anything.

Some of the people mentioned in the resolutions have the same names and identification numbers that they sold their alleged possession rights to the group of investors that I researched in 2008. I do not blame them at all. There are wealthy bums who make their land scams, it is fair that poor people take something, and the most they got was a few thousand dollars.

A funny thing happened when the group tried three years ago to obtain title in Las Uvas. A real estate broker named Jimenez sent an e-mail to Mr. Steve Guthrie, Denver, United States, secretary-treasurer of Grand Panama International, offering lots at bargain prices. 'He wanted to sell land that we had bought from Mr. Lucom and for which we had paid half a million dollars!' said Guthrie.

"That lagoon is where we thought of putting the marina, and without those miles Santa Monica beach is unfit for the project."

RANCHES. In Juan Hombrón (Las Uvas), the houses look more like ruins. Photo: Luis Garcia | La Estrella

Monday, November 28, 2011

French minister causes suspension of contract

Panama's government has suspended a contract with French credit insurance giant Compagnie Francaise DAssurance Pour le Comerce Extérieur (Coface) to finance part of a project to build the first line of its subway, after French Minister Valérie Pécresse persisted in including Panama in France's list of tax havens, despite the signing of a double-taxation agreement by both countries.

The actions by the Minister prove that the entire "tax transparency" campaign by European countries is a scam that will only end until Caribbean financial centers are reduced to banana and sugar cane exporters as in the 18th century. No matter how many tax agreements are signed, or laws changed, there will always be some new "black list" that international financial centers (except those in Europe) are deemed to be included in.

The Comunique of the Panama Ministry of Foreign Relations states in its draft translation:

Posted on Sunday, November 27, 2011 in Information

Panama has made notable and recognized efforts to update the rules governing our financial sector, including the signing of 12 Double Taxation Treaties that have allowed us out of the OECD's gray list.

Statements French Minister of Budget and Public Accounts, Valérie Pécresse, just days after the interview between the President of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli and French President Nicolas Sarkozy contradict what was agreed between the two Presidents.

We call on France to ratify promptly the Double Taxation Agreement signed with Panama last June 30 which was ratified by Panama in October.

We are confident that when France ratifies this treaty, as promised by President Sarkozy to President Martinelli French animosity against Panama on this issue will disappear.

Panama's sovereign decision to refuse services COFACE the French company, is a measure backed by Panamanian Law 58 of 2002 adopting retaliatory measures in case of foreign discriminatory restrictions against the Republic of Panama.

We had already warned would take action against repeated verbal attacks on our financial system in international forums by countries whose companies, in parallel, seek to participate in the huge public investments in our country forward.

Earlier this month, Panama's Foreign Minister Roberto Henriquez had called the G20 hypocrites after including Panama again in their list of tax havens, despite having signed the 12 Double Taxation Agreements required by the OECD.

According to La Estrella, Minister Pecresse made a Sunday call to the Panamanian Treasury Minister De Lima sayins that an emissary would fly into Panama to clarify matters.

COFACE Risque pays et études économiques > Panama

COFACE dans le monde

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Societe Generale leaving Panama (again)

This the case of the bankers who cried "wolf".

Societe Generale with great fanfare announced that they were leaving Panama in 2010 because of its "tax haven" status. What the media had missed was that they already announced in 2002 they were leaving Panama because of the country being considered a tax haven. Somehow Panama was a market good enough to return after 2002, or each closure is an excuse to cover up bad management of the branch.

Of course, Panama News also concluded in 2002 that the "entire offshore financial services sector's days are numbered". After that "prediction" the Panama banking sector has excess liquidity up to the point that some banks reject non-resident clients.

Now the French authorities have declared that even after Panama signing a double-taxation treaty with France, the Isthmus is still a "tax haven".

Societe Generale leaving Panama

Citing special charges and delays imposed by other countrie on financial transactions that involve Panama, France's second-largest bank, Societe Generale, is closing its operations in Panama City's banking center. Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina and Peru all discriminate against transactions involving Panama, mainly because those countries have long experience with their public officials laundering the proceeds of corrupt practices here. Societe Generale joins UBS and ABN Amro Bank in the line of European financial institutions leaving Panama, and its departure is taken by some analysts as another sign that the entire offshore financial services sector's days are numbered. July 28-August 10, 2002

Societe Generale moves Mexico ops. to France - Mexico, Panama
France's second largest private bank in terms of assets Societe Generale has decided to manage its Mexican customers' accounts from France rather than from its Panamanian branch, Societe Generale Panama CEO Celestin Cuq told Panamanian daily La Prensa.
Mexico charges a 15% tax on operations conducted through Panamanian banks, yet Mexico and France have a mutual tax waiver agreement, so it makes sense for Societe Generale to serve its Mexican clients from France, despite Panama's offshore status.
Fellow European banks UBS and ABN Amro also pulled out of Panama in 2001 for the same reason. However, Cuq said Societe Generale would maintain a representative office in Panama because it is of strategic value for securing business in Central America and the Caribbean.,_to_France Published: Friday, July 26, 2002 14:15

SOCIETE GENERALE : La SocGen examine des "anomalies" sur un compte de Singapour
Tous les articles PARIS, 1er avril (Reuters) - La Société Générale enquête sur des "anomalies" trouvées dans le compte d'un client supervisé par l'un de ses banquiers privés à Singapour, a déclaré jeudi un porte-parole de la banque.
Ce dernier n'a pas donné de précision sur la nature de ces anomalies mais il a dit qu'elles avaient été détectées en février et que la banque avait immédiatement informé les clients qui pourraient être concernés.
Il a ajouté que la banque faisait son possible pour résoudre la question rapidement dans l'intérêt de sa clientèle.
La banque a engagé en mars Benedikt Maissen, un ex-responsable de la Barclays, pour ses opérations en Asie.
Benedikt Maissen, 50 ans, rendra compte à Pierre Baer, responsable des opérations de banque privée de la Société Générale à Singapour et en Asie méridionale.
(Sudip Kar-Gupta, avec la contributioon de Wilfrid Exbrayat, édité par Jean-Michel Bélot) 01/04/10 à 16:04 - REUTERS 0 commentaire

Former Societe Generale Trader Goes on Trial
Trial began Tuesday for a former trader accused of brining losses of 5 billion euros (5.95 billion U.S. dollars) to the French bank Societe Generale SA (SG).
About 50 witnesses were expected to be called in the three-week trial of Jerome Kerviel, who is charged with forgery, breach of trust and unauthorized computer use. Kerviel faces five years in prison as well as a fine of 375,000 euros (448,000 dollars), if convicted.
In addition, his former employer Societe Generale would demand a sum of 4.9 billion euros (5.83 billion dollars) in compensation for damages, SG lawyer Jean Veil told the Sunday paper Le Journal du Dimanche. 2010-06-08 19:52:40 Xinhua Web Editor: Zhang Jin

Friday, October 14, 2011

Panama trade agreement finally approved

South Korea, Colombia, Panama Trade Accords Clear U.S. Congress

Analysts split over whether trade pacts boost US economy

US farmers celebrate free trade agreements, say increased demand will create jobs

Ford, others tout passage of South Korea, Colombia, Panama trade deals

Trade deals: three big winners from America's new free-trade agreements

U.S. Senate Roll Call on Passage of H.R. 3079 A bill to implement the United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement. October 12, 2011, 07:46 PM

CBS Evening News - Congress passes free trade agreements

Statement From President Ricardo Martinelli About Congressional Passage of Panama-U.S. Free Trade Agreement

PanamaInvest conferences feature investment opportunities

Panama Invest is a cycle of conferences delivered by the government of the Republic of Panama to potential investors located in key global markets with the aim of disseminating information about business opportunities and attracting foreign investment to Panama. This year Panama Invest will start in Sao Paulo to be followed by Toronto, (Madrid, Tokyo, Munich, Rotterdam and will end with the second edition in the British capital of London.

Thus, under this favorable environment, Panama Invest seeks to showcase a variety of business opportunities for companies interested in setting up their operations in Panama, where the national government has identified important sectors for investment such as maritime services, logistics and transport, mining, tourism, financial services, among others. Moreover, Panama Invest will introduce the strategic function of Panama to serve as platform for the operations of enterprises in the larger Latin American region.

Monday, October 03, 2011

New suit alleges RICO conspiracy

|10/03/2011 @ 11:21AM |826 views

Trust Fund Stolen From Poor Children In Panama, Lawsuit Claims

Family fights over wills, trusts and estates are far too common, not only in our country, but elsewhere. Sometimes, those fights reach a whole new level. This has certainly been the case with a tragic story from Panama which harmed those most in need … millions of impoverished and starving children.

A Florida attorney, Richard Lehman, takes center stage in the dispute. He recently sued political officials throughout Panama — including three Supreme Court judges — charging corruption, bribery, theft, and much more. The fight involves the estate of Lehman’s former friend and client, Wilson Lucom.

When he died in June of 2006 at the age of 88, Lucom was an expatriate American living in Panama. One year before he died, Lucom signed a will generously leaving the majority of his $50 million fortune to a trust fund to benefit the poor and needy children of Panama. That fortune includes ocean-front real estate which has appreciated in value, so that Lucom’s estate is now valued at more than $150 million.

Lucom’s widow, Hilda Piza Lucom, was well-connected in Panamanian political circles. In fact, she used to be married to the son of a President of Panama. Lucom’s will left her a monthly allowance of $20,000 and the right to live in and use the marital home throughout her life. Her children also received specific bequests (Lucom had no children of his own). But Hilda wanted more … much more.

Hilda sued to challenge the will and claimed that Lucom’s attorney, Richard Lehman, had coerced Lucom into creating it so he could manage the charitable trust, which the will named as the primary beneficiary to Lucom’s vast estate. Through the lawsuit, a court in Panama removed Lehman as the estate’s executor, but ultimately found the will valid. Hilda then appealed to another court, which again found the will valid.

Finally, she appealed again to the Supreme Court of Panama. That Court, acting through three judges, issued a strange decision which upheld the will but at the same time ruled that Lucom really wanted to benefit his “beloved wife.” The judges overturned the distribution of the bulk of Lucom’s fortune to his charitable trust fund and instead named Hilda as the “universal heir.”

Several different people, including the notary who signed the will and even a prosecutor, filed challenges to the Supreme Court’s decision. In the face of those legal challenges, the entire Supreme Court of Panama decided to review the case a second time. For the last year, the case has been in a holding pattern, until the Supreme Court issues another ruling.

In the meantime, the Florida attorney, Lehman, is tired of waiting for the money to be released to help the poverty-stricken children in Panama. It is estimated that 20% of Panamanian children suffer from malnutrition and more than one-half of children under the age of five live in poverty. Lehman says he wants the children to finally benefit from Lucom’s wishes.

So Lehman recently filed a lawsuit in federal court in Florida, accusing Hilda, some of her adult children from her first marriage, and various Panamanian judges, prosecutors, attorneys, and others, of being part of a massive, criminal RICO conspiracy. RICO is a set of United States federal laws used to combat organized crime and corruption.

In his lawsuit under the RICO laws, Lehman accuses the three Supreme Court judges of accepting bribes in the amount of $1.5 million, each. He says Hilda and others acting on her behalf caused numerous false criminal charges to be asserted against him — including one for murder — in an effort to prevent him from acting as estate executor and to inhibit him from fighting against them in court. He even suggests that the conspiracy led to a murder attempt on the life of one of Lehman’s allies.

The RICO lawsuit seeks $732 million in damages on behalf of Lehman and the charitable trust that Lucom created to implement his directive to benefit poor children in Panama. You can read the complaint that recently started this lawsuit here.

Lehman said, in an interview with Thompson Reuters, that “every word” in his RICO complaint is true and he wants the whole world to know about the corruption in Panama and the effect it’s had on the starving children there.

A Florida attorney representing some of those accused of the criminal conspiracy says that this is merely the last in a line of “frivolous lawsuits” and notes that a court in Florida already ruled that Lehman misused estate assets to the tune of $2 million. But, Lehman includes a claim in his new lawsuit that the recent Florida ruling was procured through false evidence as part of the conspiracy.

His opponents think that this is nonsense. One of the attorneys fighting against Lehman, Matias Dorta, emailed us a copy of the Florida’s judge’s ruling, which referred to Lehman as, “a covetous opportunist using the ancillary estate assets … seeking personal advantage and control of assets in the $25-50 million domiciliary estate.” Dorta says that Lehman’s new claims were already raised and dismissed in a previous lawsuit.

Clearly, there are two sides to the story, and both sides accuse the other of foul play. You can read the Florida Judge’s decision against Lehman here.

Regardless of whether Lehman’s more-shocking allegations are true, the fact remains that Lucom signed a will wanting to benefit those in Panama who most needed help. While some question whether Lucom really had these charitable intentions, the case does present a lesson. This lengthy and expensive probate court fight could have been largely avoided.

How? There was no reason for Lucom to rely on a will and force his assets to pass through the court system, which had been accused by many of being corrupt. While Lucom created a trust — in Panama — to implement his wishes (at least, according to Lehman), that trust was never funded with his estate assets before he died.

Lucom could have transferred his assets into his trust during his lifetime. Or, better yet, he could have created a trust somewhere other than Panama (like Florida for example), transferred his assets into it, and avoided the Panama court system entirely.

Creating and a funding a revocable living trust — early, before there is a question of mental competency or undue influence — is the best way to prevent a family fight over your estate. By making this change late in life, and failing to use a trust to avoid probate, Lucom made it much harder for his wishes to be followed.

It’s a sad lesson that everyone can learn from.

By Danielle and Andy Mayoras, co-authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!, husband-and-wife legacy expert attorneys, and hosts of the national television special, Trial & Heirs: Protect Your Family Fortune! For the latest celebrity and high-profile cases, with tips to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your clients, click here to subscribe to The Trial & Heirs Update.

La Estrella de Panamá - The Panama Star
The Lucom legacy
Las Uvas: Fever in the coast

Supreme Court of Justice-Panama
August 6, 2011, decision by Justice Oyden Ortega
September 30, 2011, clarification by Justice Oyden Ortega
Grand Panama International et al vs. Hacienda Santa Monica, S.A., complaint by company Lucom promised to sell his property

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

Youtube video
100 acres of beachfront are misappropiated

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lombardi Aguilar Attorney To Speak at New York State Bar Association Panel Discussion

Lombardi Aguilar Attorney To Speak at New York State Bar Association Panel Discussion

Attorney Alvaro Aguilar will be a speaker at a panel discussion on trust & estate laws to be held before members of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) International Section

Lombardi Aguilar Group ( partner Alvaro Aguilar-Alfu will be a speaker at a panel discussion during the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) International Section seasonal meeting. The theme of this seasonal meeting is "Latin America as an Engine for Economic Recovery and Growth." Mr. Aguilar is also Co-Chair of the meeting local steering committee comprised of lawyers from the Central and South American cities of Panama City, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Santiago, São Paolo, and San Jose. The meeting will be held from September 21-24, 2011, in Panama City, Panama, and a pre-meeting of the NYSBA Costa Rica Chapter will be held on on September 19.

Mr. Aguilar will be a panelist of the session on "Trusts and Estates – Regulation of Offshore Accounts and Trusts in the US and Latin America" on Thursday, September 23, from 2:40 p.m. to 3:55 p.m. Other experts in the panel will be Glenn G. Fox and Michael W. Galligan (both of New York City, U.S.), Mary Fernandez (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), Cristina Sánchez-Urtiz (Mexico City, México) and Diego Fissore (Buenos Aires, Argentina). Lombardi is a graduate of Universidad Santa Maria la Antigua (LLB) and Washington College of Law / The American University (LLM).

To register for the 2011 Seasonal Meeting of the International Section, visit the New York State Bar Association Website at:

About the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) International Section

NYSBA is the organisation of lawyers in the State of New York, and with more than 76,000 members, it is the largest voluntary bar organisation in the United States.
The NYSBA International Section is one of the most active sections of the Association, with over 2,000 members throughout the United States and in many foreign countries and with chapter chairs in numerous cities worldwide. Members are primarily professionals practising law at major international law firms or corporations with a global reach.
NYSBA International provides its members the opportunity to keep up to date and influence issues and events that affect their clients and their practice. Each year NYSBA International hosts its Seasonal Meeting in a different city outside of the United States to provide American and foreign colleagues the opportunity to meet, network and expand their international practices.

About Lombardi Aguilar Group
Lombardi Aguilar Group is a partnership of consultants created as an alternative for clients worldwide who seek fast, innovative and effective solutions to their legal problems. The firm currently provides services to individual and corporate clients in Panama as well in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Its partners maintain a commitment with professional ethics and social responsibility by participating in the board of directors of groups such as the Panama Bar Association, the Alliance Francaise, the German and the American Chambers of Commerce (AMCHAM) of Panama, and the Association of Chinese-Panamanian Professionals (APROCHIPA).

The firm centers its law practice in private client services and asset protection (Private Interest Foundations, Trusts), business structures (Offshore Corporations), tax planning, real estate and e-commerce. It also advices in areas of Law such as Corporate, Commercial, Intellectual Property, Maritime, Tax, Environmental and Immigration Law as well as related litigation.

For more information, contact +507 340-6447, e-mail info (at), or see: Lombardi Aguilar Group

Keywords: panama, latin america, new york, tax, offshore, Trust, trustee, estate, Real Estate, Property, corporation, foundation

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Monday, August 08, 2011

US ExIm Bank Chaiman visits Panama

Ex-Im Bank Chairman Fred P. Hochberg Conducts Business Development Mission in Panama, August 7 - 8

PANAMA CITY, Aug. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fred P. Hochberg, chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), conducted a business-development mission in Panama on August 7 – 8, 2011, to promote Ex-Im Bank financing available to support sales of U.S. goods and services to private and public-sector buyers.


Panama is the fastest-growing country in Central America, with a GDP growth rate of 7.5 percent in 2010 and strong growth anticipated through 2015. The government of Panama has set ambitious goals for the country's infrastructure investment that could total more than $10 billion in the next five years, including a $1.5 billion metro line.

As of June 30, 2011, Ex-Im Bank has over $1 billion in exposure in Panama. Ex-Im's support for Boeing aircraft sales to Copa Airlines, Panama's flag carrier, constitutes the majority of its financings in the country in recent years, and the Bank is seeking to expand its support beyond the aviation sector.

Hochberg met with Panamanian business leaders to discuss Ex-Im Bank financing available to encourage more companies in Panama to purchase U.S. goods and services. He is focused on expanding use of the Bank's products for infrastructure development, renewable-energy production, medical and transportation equipment, construction and other sectors.

"From financing U.S. construction equipment for the Pan-American Highway in the 1940s to supporting U.S. aircraft sales to Copa Airlines today, Ex-Im Bank has helped to expand business and tourism in Panama," said Chairman Hochberg. "The Bank is open for business in all of our programs in Panama. We provide an array of innovative financing tools and resources for Panamanian buyers to purchase U.S. goods and services."

Commenting on the pending U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement, Hochberg noted, "Ex-Im Bank supports Panamanian companies as productive partners with U.S. exporters for the mutual benefit of our countries. The free trade agreement with Panama will allow the Bank to harness additional opportunities in infrastructure and other key sectors and improve U.S. access to Panama's $20 billion services market."

Hochberg's schedule included meetings with Copa Airlines officials, breakfast at the American Chamber of Commerce of Panama on Monday, August 8, followed by a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Panama Phyllis M. Powers and a visit to the Panama Canal.

Panamanian buyers interested in learning more about Ex-Im Bank's financing may contact Senior Commercial Officer Daniel Crocker at the U.S. Embassy in Panama City through email at or by calling (507) 207-7388.

About Ex-Im Bank:

Ex-Im Bank is an independent federal agency that helps create and maintain U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing at no cost to American taxpayers. The Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms, including working capital guarantees, export-credit insurance and financing to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. goods and services.

In FY 2011 through August 4, 2011, Ex-Im Bank has approved more than $24.5 billion in total authorizations – an all-time Ex-Im record. This total included 2,548 U.S. small-business transactions. The Bank's FY 2011 authorizations to date represent a 70 percent increase over its FY 2008 total of $14.4 billion.

Ex-Im Bank's authorizations through August 4 will support $31.5 billion in U.S. export sales and approximately 213,000 American jobs in communities across the country. For more information, visit the Bank's Web site at

SOURCE Export-Import Bank of the United States

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Disney makes it to Panama! - sort of...

Panama has become a regular port of call of the Disney cruise ships. Disney Magic holds the record for the highest regular toll paid for passage through the Panama Canal, at $331200

This is the closest we have yet to see a Disney operation being set up in Panama, despite the recurrent story that keeps coming up on the Internet about a Disney resort.

The story first came up in 2006 during the real estate boom. The then Minister of Commerce Jose Paredes theorized it could be related to the purchase of Hacienda Santa Monica by a group of foreign investors. The Minister mistakenly said that the investors had made a deposit and no further payments, when in fact the investors have been precluded from paying the rest of the price when the seller Wilson Lucom died and the relatives stalled the probate case. And the buyers were not related to the Disney companies.

In 2009 an April 1 "news item" supposedly issued by a non-existent reporter AP called Rodrigo Campos mentioned a Disney park to be located on the Pan-American Highway near the entrance to the resort town of Coronado, the 350 acre park.

Even a BusinessWeek website and the El Siglo newspaper were suckered into what was an April Fools joke

What has become an urban legend or a way of raising depressed real estate prices occasionally makes it back, as the original item remains stored in website cache memories, with some Internet users still believing it...!

Disney resorts - unrelated to theme parks - do exist in the Caribbean and throughout the U.S.

This means that those wanting to visit Mickey will need a U.S. visa or travel to theme parks in Europe or Asia.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Panama exits the OECD Grey List

OECD Promotes Panama to List of Financially Transparent Countries

Leading Latin American Economy Reaches Major Transparency Standards Milestone

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following the signing of a double taxation agreement with France on July 6, the Republic of Panama was placed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on its list of countries who have substantially implemented international standards for exchange of information, commonly known as the "White List."

"Panama has moved aggressively to align its tax systems with international standards established by the OECD," said Alberto Vallarino, Minister of Economy and Finance for the Republic of Panama. "We are pleased to have reached this historic milestone, which further assures international investors of the stability of the Panamanian economy."

Panama has signed DTAs with France and 10 other countries, including Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Qatar, Luxembourg, Korea, Singapore, Mexico, Barbados, and Portugal. Panama signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement with the United States in November of last year. These agreements enable the transparent exchange of tax information and prevent the facilitation of tax evasion. A country must sign at least 12 of these agreements in order to be included on the OECD's list, which is a compilation of countries willing to cooperate against tax fraud.

Panama leads Latin America economically. In 2010, the country led the region in foreign direct investment, as a percent of GDP, with investments exceeding $2.3 billion. In the first quarter of 2011 alone, Panama's economy grew 9.7 percent from the previous year. It was ranked the 2nd most competitive economy in Latin America by the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011, and the International Monetary Fund projects that Panama will become the fastest-growing economy in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2015.

Panama has requested that the OECD's Global Forum further review its laws and domestic policies to ensure the tax treaties it has signed remain operational.

"The Martinelli Administration's pro-growth economic policies and alignment with international standards continue to create prosperity for our country and opportunities for our citizens," Vallarino said.

Distributed by HDMK, LLC on behalf of the Republic of Panama. Additional information is on file at the Department of Justice, Washington DC.

SOURCE Republic of Panama

Tax: Panama meets target for international exchange of tax information

06/07/2011 - Panama today moved to the OECD’s list of jurisdictions considered to have substantially implemented the standard for exchange of information when it signed a tax information exchange agreement with France. This brings Panama’s total agreements to the critical 12 that meet the international standard.

Accordingly, Panama now moves into the substantially implemented category, becoming the 39th jurisdiction to do so since the progress report was first issued in April 2009.

Secretary General Angel Gurria said, “Panama has worked hard to achieve this milestone and has made remarkable strides toward complying with the international standards in a very short time. This is very welcome and shows the Global Forum is achieving its aims.” However, he cautioned that the Global Forum must still evaluate whether Panama’s domestic laws will allow for effective availability, access to and exchange of information. He said, “The government has introduced domestic changes so that the agreements can be effective. The Global Forum will follow up to make sure they work as intended. It is important that Panama continues to work to fully implement the standards.”

Following the Global Forum Phase 1 Peer Review of Panama (assessing the legal and regulatory framework), Panama has significantly amended its legislation to address some of the deficiencies identified by the Global Forum which resulted in Panama not moving forward to a Phase 2 review (assessment of the information exchange in practice). At the request of Panama, the Global Forum will soon undertake a further review of whether Panama’s domestic laws, including recent changes, will allow for effective exchange of information in practice.

More information about the Global Forum:

For further information, journalists should contact Jeffrey Owens, Director of the OECD’s Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, (tel. +33 1 45 24 91 08, e-mail:

A progress report on the jurisdictions surveyed by the OECD Global Forum in implementing the internationally agreed tax standard (PDF regularly updated)

A progress report on the jurisdictions surveyed by the OECD Global Forum in implementing the internationally agreed tax standard on exchange of information for tax purposes.

The internationally agreed standard, developed by OECD and non-OECD countries in the context of the OECD’s Global Forum on Taxation and endorsed by G20 Finance Ministers in 2004 and by the UN Committee of Experts on International Co-operation in Tax Matters in October 2008, requires exchange of information on request in all tax matters for the administration and enforcement of domestic tax law without regard to a domestic tax interest requirement or bank secrecy for tax purposes. It also provides for extensive safeguards to protect the confidentiality of the information exchanged.

Panama Peer Review Report

Sunday, July 03, 2011

A succesful day at Immigration...

Applicants at Panama Immigration may spend up to 25 hours standing in line for pictures or submissions by the time certain types of residence visas are granted. Somehow there is always a new unwritten regulation used to justify ordering a application papers to be amended. Using an attorney or a legal assistant may cut down the number of hours spent. Having a clever assistant like this one is ... just priceless!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Panama Attorneys advise investors forming joint venture for energy projects in West Africa

Panama Attorneys advise investors forming joint venture for energy projects in West Africa
Attorneys Lombardi Aguilar Group advised a group of West African investors entering a joint venture to develop hydrokinetic water projects

Panama City, Panama – Attorneys Lombardi Aguilar Group ( served as Panama counsel for MRS Holdings Ltd. ( in their joint venture to develop hydrokinetic water projects.

Nigeria-based MRS Holdings Ltd., entered through their Panamanian subsidiary into a joint venture with renewable energy company Hydro Alternative Energy, Inc. (HAE) to develop hydrokinetic energy projects in West Africa. The arrangement follows the previously announced binding letter of intent between HAE and MRS to secure and develop such hydrokinetic water power projects in the West Africa region.

HAE and MRS formed Natural Energy Solutions (NES), a Panamanian corporation, which plans to enter into power purchase agreements for developing hydrokinetic water power projects in West Africa. NES will be headed by select senior management from both the HAE and MRS organizations.

NES plans to advance the terms and conditions of a MoU from mid-October between a prior MRS subsidiary, since assigned to NES, and the Cameroon’s Ministry of Energy and Water Resources. The MoU entails feasibility studies to be undertaken for the development and operation of facilities for the production of tidal electric power, and for the Cameroon government to facilitate access to and grant certain exclusivity rights with respect to the project sites that will be selected as part of the feasibility studies and construction of electricity generation facilities to be undertaken.

MRS is headed by its President and major stockholder, Sayyu Dantata, an established businessman and entrepreneur who, in 2008, steered MRS' acquisition of the Chevron operation in West Africa. Mr. Dantata stated, "We are likewise very pleased to formalize our partnership with HAE, and are fully committed to making our relationship a success and providing West African countries with low cost, clean, renewable hydrokinetic energy for their electricity needs."

Lead attorney for MRS' Panama counsel was partner
Dr. Jorge Lombardi, a graduate of Universidad Santa Maria la Antigua (LLB) and University of Paris (3eme cycle, DED). The team included associate Carlos Abrego and counsel Rodolfo Espino. Abrego and Espino are graduates of University of Panama (LLB) and have taken courses at National University of Singapore (LL.M.) and Tamkang University, Taiwan (Political Systems), respectively.

About Lombardi Aguilar Group
Lombardi Aguilar Group is a partnership of consultants created as an alternative for clients worldwide who seek fast, innovative and effective solutions to their legal problems. The firm currently provides services to individual and corporate clients in Panama as well in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Its partners maintain a commitment with professional ethics and social responsibility by participating in the board of directors of groups such as the Panama Bar Association, the Alliance Francaise, the German and the American Chambers of Commerce (AMCHAM) of Panama, and the Association of Chinese-Panamanian Professionals (APROCHIPA).

The firm centers its law practice in private client services and asset protection (Private Interest Foundations, Trusts), business structures (Offshore Corporations), tax planning, real estate and e-commerce. It also advices in areas of Law such as Corporate, Commercial, Intellectual Property, Maritime, Tax, Environmental and Immigration Law as well as related litigation.

For more information, contact +507 340-6444, e-mail info (at), or see: Lombardi Aguilar Group

Keywords: Panama, West Africa, Energy, Hydrokinetic
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ras al Khaimah opens its RAK Offshore center

Located in the United Arab Emirates, one of the fastest growing economies of the world, the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) has quickly developed into a booming international center. Renowned for its lack of taxes and its minimal bureaucratic red tape, Ras Al Khaimah has attracted thousands of businesses, large and small, to relocate and take advantage of its economic opportunities. Now, RAK Offshore has made it possible for nonresident corporations, entrepreneurs and individuals worldwide to enjoy all the incentives that were previously available only to resident entities.

Headquartered in the up-and-coming Ras Al Khaimah City, the RAK Investment Authority, a government entity, allows a wide variety of financial activity and provides the perfect conditions to consider an offshore corporation through its regularity body, RAK Offshore.
At RAK Offshore, our raison d’être is to help your business succeed. From the very outset, RAK Offshore was conceived to allow its clients an easy, cost-effective means to unleash their entrepreneurial spirit, by starting and operating an offshore business.
RAK Offshore offers businesses and individuals alike an expansive range of services, structures and investment policies that are dedicated to nonresidents. RAK Offshore also benefits from one of the most comprehensive lists of non-double taxation treaties in the world, including treaties with China, India, Italy, France and Germany.

Nonresident Business and Individuals
International Business Companies RAK Offshore presents an ideal location for international business operations and asset protection schemes. If you are looking for an free zone in the Middle East where you can register your LLC or GmBH with little cost or hassle, RAK Offshore is your answer.
Maritime Activities RAK Offshore offers open registry of yachts, private boats, and, in the near future, vessels.

OutsourcingWith its proximity to the major economies of the Middle East and its strategic location between the economic hemispheres of the East and the West, RAK lies in the perfect geographic location for a new business. In addition to its ready access to a flexible, multicultural, multilingual and highly skilled workforce, RAK Offshore becomes the ideal choice for outsourcing businesses looking for accounting, auditing and other back-office operations.
Offshore Non-Financial Businesses You can register International Business Companies bearing the status of Ltd., GmBH, Ltda or SA at RAK Offshore.
Trusts There are a variety of trusts you may consider, including the following: General Trusts, Discretionary Trusts, Vesting Trusts, Educational Trusts, Employee Trusts, Spendthrift Trusts, Asset Protection Trusts & Grantor Trusts.
Charitable Trusts & Foundation As the owner of an operating business, you can continue to maintain control over your company by setting up a Corporate Special Trust.

Offshore BankingRAK Offshore takes special care to give small and medium enterprises the ability to move their business offshore through the creation and application of dedicated instruments. A few resulting benefits realized for your business are the following:
Asset Protection & Planning
Confidentiality of execution
Tax planning
International Visibility
No Exchange Control
Access to a Superb Communication and Banking Infrastructure
Choice of outsourcing
Creative and genuine portfolio of dedicated services
Property ownership of nonresidents in UAE free zones
Compliant with the best international standards for anti-money laundering.

If you need to form your RAK company or trust, contact us through our website, by email, Bitwine or Skype

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Using your RAK company

Registrar of Companies
The Registrar of Companies functions as the production unit of RAK offshore and is responsible for establishing business relationships, incorporating offshore companies through licensed registered agents, and ensuring all rules and regulations are strictly adhered to. The Registrar of Companies will handle all matters related to the aforementioned, including:
  • Process applications for incorporation of new companies and deliver certificate of incorporation with registration number
  • Perform due diligence on the individuals (directors, members, etc.) who are part of the incorporated company.
  • Verify the names of companies at incorporation
  • Collect various fees and fines
  • Deliver certificates, duplicates, or other documents as per the law
  • Maintain the physical registry
  • Update the Register of Companies as needed

Information AT-A-GLANCE

International  Business Companies
  1. Minimum
  2. Residency requirements

  1. 1 shareholder
  2. No requirements 
Share Capital
  1. Minimum authorized
  2. Minimum issued
  3. Bearer shares
  4. Redeemable shares
  1. Nomínimum requirement
  2. 1 share

  3. No
  4. Yes
Beneficial ownership disclosure
Not required to disclose to the UAE government, but must be disclosed to a registered agent
  1. MinimumNumber
  2. Residency requirements
  3. Corporate Directors
  1. 1 director
  2. No requirements
  3. Yes
Local presence requirements
  1. Directors
  2. Company officers
  3. Meetings
  4. Annual
    general meeting
  5. Audit requirements

  1. Not required
  2. Not required
  3. Not required
  4. Not required
  5. Not required (unless requested by the RAK Financial Services Authority for suspicion of criminal activity)
Annual accounts

Possibility of migration
Yes, but not public accounts

Share transfer duty/tax
Special mention on the name
Sociéte Anonyme, GmbH, Ltda…

If you need to start your RAK company contact us through our website, by  email, Bitwine or Skype

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