Panama twists in AML/CFT spotlight–minus experts


Stiglitz, Pieth abandon ‘transparency’ commission

“Transparency” in AML/CFT Compliance is getting a lot of attention these days, but talk is a lot easier than action. Just ask Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, a now-former member of Panama’s newly formed commission to investigate the state and effect of transparency in its financial and legal practices.

Stigletz resigned from the Panamanian commission last week in protest of the government’s reversal of its explicit commitment to make public the eventual findings of the commission. And he was joined in his resignation by Mark Pieth, a Swiss international expert in anti-corruption efforts and criminal justice.

Panama has endured the glare of the international AML/CFT spotlight since the publication of the Panama Papers, and the Central American nation has been especially pressed to explain the lack of transparency and its obvious appeal as a haven for facilitators of financial corruption, tax evasion, arms and drug dealing, and money laundering.

Stiglitz, who had predicated his participation on assurances about the transparency of the investigation into the lack of transparency in Panama, was quoted in the New York Times as saying that it was “ amazing how they tried to undermine us.”

Stiglitz said that he could only conclude that the Panamanian government had reversed its explicit commitment due to pressure from the forces that profit massively from the lack of transparency in the country’s financial and legal systems.

Government representatives denied Stiglitz’s assertion. However, fellow resignee Mark Pieth was similarly frustrated. The Times report quoted Pieth as saying that he and Stiglitz “were paraded in front of the world media first, and then we’re told to shut up when they don’t like it.”

The commission is expected to continue its work with the five remaining members, four of whom are Panamanian citizens. The commission’s report will be delivered only to the president of Panama when it is completed.

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