Offshore Banking Jurisdictions

Offshore Banking in Panama

Panama is an offshore banking center smaller than Switzerland. The country with only 3 million inhabitants, Panama has more than 150 international banks providing offshore services to the customers worldwide. One of the reasons why it is so popular is strong bank secrecy laws. The fact that in Panama there are more offshore banks where bank account can be opened without visiting the bank in person contributes very much to the popularity of Panamanian offshore bank accounts. Of course, the customer should prove its identity and reputability with trustworthy documents, but for many offshore customers the account opening without traveling very far from home can be additional bonus when choosing between two offshore banking jurisdictions.

US dollar is the national currency of Panama, and in some situations it is an advantage, for example with capital gains tax when repatriating the money and converting it back to dollars. Panama-based account is rather good for international offshore business transactions as well. Several Panama banks offer also offshore merchant account facilities, however with substantial restrictions on gambling, adult industry, sell of pharmacies and tobacco products.

Bank account introducers promoting this jurisdiction consider that one of the main advantages of bank account in Panama is no tax treaties and no co-operation with any other countries' inquiries.

Another advantage of Panama offshore bank account that is often mentioned is the fact that Panama does not consider tax evasion a crime, and so does not help other countries in their investigations. This includes mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) requests.

According to offshore banking legislation of Panama, if bank employee or officer violates the bank secrecy laws, they can go to prison and get fined. Getting into customers bank records in Panama would require a court order from a Panama Court, which is usually reserved for such areas of criminal activity as: child pornography, narcotics trafficking, terrorism, money laundering and fiduciary fraud.

Also, lawyers assisting with offshore bank account opening in Panama usually advise for privacy reasons not to open personal bank account, but to make more advanced asset protection structure with offshore corporation or offshore foundation as an offshore bank account holder.