The Central American country of Panama, which last month was among 17 countries “blacklisted” by EU finance ministers for failing to co-operate with the European Union’s efforts to crack down on tax havens, today signed up to the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard (CRS Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement, or CRS MCAA).
Signing the necessary papers on behalf of his country at the OECD’s Paris headquarters was Panama’s director-general of revenue and the delegated competent authority of Panama, Publio Ricardo Cortés, the OECD said in a statement.
Panama thus becomes the 98th jurisdiction to join the CRS MCAA, which, the OECD noted, is the main international agreement for implementing the automatic exchange of financial account information under its Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance.
“By signing the CRS MCAA today, Panama is re-affirming its commitment to the automatic exchange of financial account information, pursuant to the OECD/G20 Common Reporting Standard, with exchanges set to commence in September 2018,” the OECD statement said.
“The signing of the CRS MCAA will allow Panama to activate bilateral exchange relationships with the other 97 jurisdictions that have so far joined the CRS MCAA.”
At the signing ceremony, OECD deputy secretary-general Masamichi Kono said: “I congratulate Panama on taking this very substantial step towards putting in place a truly global exchange network for the automatic exchange of financial account information.
“Your signing today puts Panama is an excellent position to fully deliver on its commitment to start CRS exchanges with all interested appropriate partners in September of this year.”
Home of ‘Panama Papers’ law firm
Possibly more than most overseas jurisdictions, Panama has been under pressure to be seen to clean up its act, in the wake of the so-called “Panama Papers” revelations of 2016, when what was said at the time to be the largest leak of financial data ever to take place involved a Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca.
Days after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released data culled from more than 11 million documents obtained from the law firm to the world’s media, which revealed the business of hiding assets offshore was still flourishing despite recent efforts by G20 nations in particular to crack down on the practice, France returned Panama to its own blacklist.
To see a complete list of the 98 jurisdictions that have thus far signed up to the CRS MCAA, click here.
As reported here today, the prime minister of Grenada, Keith Mitchell, has been reported by a Curaçao newspaper to have said his country expected to be removed from the European Union’s blacklist by the end of January, following a 23 January meeting of the Financial and Economic Unit of the OECD.
It wasn’t immediately known whether Panama was also expected to come off the list at that meeting, now that it has signed up to the CRS.