Mossack Fonseca on Panama: Enters Phase II of the OECD Global Forum Review

At the 8th meeting of the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, held in Barbados on 29-30 October 2015, Panama was officially accepted into Phase 2 of the information exchange peer review process.

The Global Forum peer reviews occur in two Phases: Phase 1 reviews assess the quality of a jurisdiction’s legal and regulatory framework for the exchange of information, while Phase 2 reviews look at the practical implementation of that framework.

Panama’s Foreign Ministry noted that the country’s implementation standards for the exchange of tax information upon request will be assessed, with particular attention to those jurisdictions with which Panama has agreements that allow the exchange of information.

Panama’s Deputy Foreign Minister Luis Miguel Hincapie said "This step reflects the commitment of Panama in this area and the significant progress in updating our legal framework. In a short time we have adapted to the standards of fiscal transparency while at all times defending national interests”. He went on to say that President Juan Carlos Varela, in his recent speech at the General Assembly of the United Nations, announced that Panama, like its major trading partners, is committed to the automatic bilateral exchange of tax information, but with some conditions. The President said the exchanges will have to take into account national circumstances, the international geopolitical environment, and the right of each country to take the necessary measures to ensure that the automatic exchange of information is not misused to impair the competitiveness of some countries for the benefit of others. President Varela proposed that the issues be incorporated into the regular agenda of the United Nations to ensure that they are discussed by the countries on equal terms.

There are now 96 jurisdictions which are committed to making the first exchanges of information in 2017 or 2018. Panama has committed to commence automatic exchanges in 2018.