London – 19th April 2016. Wealth Forums’ Safe Havens Forum earlier on today at the Caledonian Club was one of the best ever international events of its kind in the British capital and beyond over the last 30 years. A meticulously organsied and well directed event by Ricahrd Moir and Ian Brodie, CEO and Chairman respectively of The Wealth Forums, attracted nealy one hundred delegates and 13 speakers!
The Forum covered ten important issues and the key note speaker was the very eloquent His Excellency Daniel Fabrega*, Ambassador of Panama in the United Kingdom. His speech was on the topic of the recent publications and his Governments’ perspective.
In his speech, the Ambassador focussed on two areas: setting out the steps Panama has taken to support the international movement towards greater global tax transparency, and highlighting the dynamic and diversified economy that has flourished in this fast-growing Latin American trading hub.
President Varela entered government on a clear anti-corruption platform, and the recent leaks from Mossack & Fonseca have demonstrated a clear need for the President’s ongoing programme of financial and legal transparency reforms.
In the first 21 months of the Varela administration, the Government has substantially enhanced and strengthened “Know your client” regulations, not only for financial and corporate providers but also for key non financial industries vulnerable to abuse; as of January this year, Panama requires identity certification of shareholders of all Panama companies; it has also established nearly 30 double taxation agreements with countries including the United Kingdom and France.
As a result of these and other widespread reforms to meet and exceed international safeguarding standards, in February Panama was removed from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) ‘grey list’ in record time. Still, more work is needed and Panama is committed to be at the forefront of this issue -including creating an independent committee of international and national experts to evaluate its policies, determine best practices and propose measures that will be shared with other countries to strengthen global financial and legal transparency.
Contrary to its characterisation in recent media, Panama is one of the most diversified financial centres in the world – with legal services related to corporations representing less than 1% of GDP.
Panama is resilient. From the ashes of the 1989 invasion, Panama has built itself into one of the fastest and most stable growing economies in the region.
Panama is very pro-business, hosting over 110 multinational companies under the auspices of a stable democratic government. Panama’s dollarised economy grew over 6% last year, despite a regional slump; it is rated by the Global Competitiveness index as the most competitive economy in Central America.
Panama is also increasingly becoming a regional logistics and connectivity hub. Logistics and free- trade-zone commerce in the Panama Canal “cluster” represent around 30% of GDP and will benefit from the Canal expansion due in June 2016. Our isthmus is a point of convergence and unity, serving not only our people, but also the international community as a whole.
Just as the United Kingdom is the gateway to Europe, Panama is proud to be the gateway to the Americas.
There were quite a number of interesting questions and an equally excellent debate. We will revert with a full acount of the event. Watch this space.
*Mr. Daniel Fábrega was appointed Ambassador of Panama to the United Kingdom in October 2014.
Mr Fábrega was born in Panama on 15th March 1975. Mr Fábrega was educated in Panama and the United States, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at Loyola University in New Orleans, followed by a Master’s in Business Administration at the Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnología (ULACIT) in Panama.
Before his appointment as Ambassador, Mr. Fábrega has served as a Company Director and the Vice President for Exports for Varela Hemanos S.A., the producer of the internationally distributed Ron Abuelo rum brand. Under his watch, the company’s worldwide sales of Ron Abuelo more than doubled, helping to provide yet another element to Panama’s thriving business economy. In that role, Mr. Fábrega traveled extensively to open new markets and meet business leaders in the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Mr. Fábrega is married, and he and his wife have two children.