Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Thursday, August 11, 2016

PANAMA SOUGHT TO CONTROL INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL REFORM COMMITTEE


Panamanians responding to my recent article detailing the comments, made by a resigned member of Panama's financial reform committee, which was formed in the furor following the Panama Papers disclosures, have stated that Mr. Stiglitz' statements were in error. They have asserted that the committee, which was formed by presidential decree, was iriginally required to submit its final report to the president all along, and he would decide when it could be released, and not that it would be publicly released forthwith, when completed.

This sounds suspiciously like the typical coverup and delay, which is the way Panama has avoided accountability for its actions for decades. To delay, indefinitely, the release of such an important report on reform ostensibly for the sole purpose of "analysis," is an insult to the intelligence of those Panamanians who truly want reform of their country's corporation and tax laws. For what purpose is a report, whose conclusions are being eagerly anticipated by the global financial community, delayed, so that some unnamed government functionary can read it ? We know what the problems are, and we have a pretty good ideas of how the conclusions, and solutions, should read.  Now, it appears it will not see the light of day.

With the departure of two members, the committee, with one exception, is completely composed of Panamanians. Forgive my question, but don't all Panamanian businessmen, and citizens, have an inherent, and  conflict of interest in being on the committee ? Where are the independent regulators and law enforcement officials, from other Latin American countries,  on the committee, who could be objective about the issues ?

In truth and in fact, sources in Panama City advise that it is common knowledge that Panamanian President Varela had word delivered to the committee, that its conclusions and findings should only reflect positively upon Panama, and its legal & financial structure. There was no intention to listen to an objective finder of fact here; the committee, which was a knee-jerk reaction to the Panama Papers, is not supposed to make waves. That is why Stiglitz resigned, and why you should not expect anything of substance from the committee.

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