Lic. OLIVER G. Laprea
Specialist in International Trade and the Maritime Sector
Currently “PANAMA PAPERS” is a controversial issue, which ultimately is affecting the credibility and reputation of the business system of a country, including its people.
Actually trade lives on Trust and Good Faith, the proof of which is the existence of such figures as the insurance contract, bank accounts, trusts, among others. A range of commercial transactions are regulated through a set of principles, rules and contracts that guarantee the proper functioning of relations between traders.
The principle of “Freedom in contracting and its forms” in international trade allows merchants to freely choose with whom and how they hold a certain legal business, how they will manage the risks of its operations, always acting in good faith in business. For example, these are corporations with land taxes, international bank accounts, trusts, foundations, tax-free zones, free trade agreements, to name a few.
Now, with regard to Panama, this country provides a secure and transparent platform for local and international business: “PANAMA IS NOT PAPERS”.
Panama offers a range of alternatives, such as investment vehicles, all reliable and legal. In the case of corporations, partners can share the risks of lost capital and, in turn, limit their effects on the family estate. In this case, since the birth of the company, the partners will go through the following controls:
- Resident Agent Law (Know Your Customer)
- Notary Public (Protocol)
- Public Registry (Registration-rate Unica)
- Taxation Office DGI (RUC-NIT)
- Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Notice of Operations)
- Municipality of Panama (Business Registration)
- Bank Requirements (Account Opening)
At each point there are a set of requirements and procedures of bodies or public or private entities that are collecting, reviewing and overseeing information on the partners and their business.
Therefore, any trader or investor, in order to perform operations through a Panama S.A. company, must meet these requirements that only seek to ensure transparency and security of business in domestic and international trade.
The problem is not “PANAMA PAPERS”. The real problem is to determine whether anyone is currently violating rules that guarantee the confidentiality of accounting, financial affairs, banking and tax responsibility of an “Anonymous” Society information, and if so, how to correct and prevent a reoccurrence.
In this sense, it is worth making mention of the UNIDROIT principles that, while not being State standards, are generally accepted principles governing contracts used in international trade. So we have:
ARTICLE 2.1.16 DUTY OF CONFIDENTIALITY.
If one party provides information considered as confidential during the course of negotiations, the other party has a duty not to disclose or use it for their own benefit unjustifiably, whether or not perfect or part of the contract. Where appropriate, the derivative liability for the breach of that duty may include compensation based on the benefit received by the other party.
Trust and good faith in Panama as a platform for business establishment and implementation of international trade operations, should be a priority. It is very important to determine responsibilities and make the necessary corrections to maintain the good image of Panama as a bridge of the world, heart of the universe.