The World Compliance Association, Panama chapter, hosted the II World Compliance Insurance & Re Conference on October 3, 4, and 5 in Panama. The hybrid conference gathered roughly 200 attendees and 20 speakers, covering topics in corporate governance, ultimate beneficial ownership, watch lists, enhanced due diligence and risk assessment.
Kroll was a proud sponsor, and our colleague, Pablo Iragorri (Managing Director and Head of Kroll Colombia), shared his insights on reputational due diligence as a risk mitigation tool for compliance departments. In addition, he also shared his experiences working in investigations with compliance areas and pinpointed challenges and skills of the Compliance Officer 4.0.
The event’s main objective was to cooperate between allied partners to broaden the vision of compliance and regulation in the insurance industry in Panama and its international relations with the European Union and the world. This article will provide an overview of the topics in UBOs, anti-corruption guidelines and regulations in Panama and the U.S.
On October 4, Dr. Carlos Barsallo—current president of the Institute of Corporate Governance of Panama—was one of the speakers who provided an overview of integrity guides to prevent corruption. He stated that the destination of the multi-million-dollar government budget to combat corruption in areas of control, supervision and auditing needs to be appropriately invested in the country. In his remarks, he mentioned that an honest “open-door government” is missing in Panama, a country with too many intentionally poorly made, unregulated or poorly implemented laws.
During the conference, speakers linked the global landscape to the challenges of compliance, mentioning that after the recent pandemic that hit the world’s economy, the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the fuel crisis, it is safe to say that corrupt funds will end up in the world’s banking systems. It is imperative to work with integrity guides and a transparent approach to beneficial ownership, which could help corporations save hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, penalties and costs and avoid reputational harm.
In synchrony with the topics addressed during the conference, it is important to mention that on September 15, 2022, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco delivered remarks on corporate criminal enforcement, known as “The Monaco Memo.” During her address, she cited Attorney General Levi’s 1975 speech, where he emphasized that “a lack of resources hampered efforts to fight corporate crime.” 1 Such remarks beg the question: could current regulations improve this perception?
The Monaco memo, initially issued on October 28, 2021, and concerning the Corporate Crime Advisory Group and initial review of corporate criminal enforcement policies, helps answer this interrogation. It addressed key areas of the U.S. Department of Justice’s policy on corporate criminal enforcement and includes:
- Guidance on individual liability: (a) timely disclosures and prioritization of individual investigations and (b) foreign prosecutions of persons responsible for corporate crimes.
- Guidance on corporate responsibility: (a) assessment of a corporation’s history of misconduct; (b) voluntary self-disclosure by corporations; (c) evaluation of cooperation by companies and (d) evaluation of the compliance program of a corporation. In addition to those factors, this memorandum identifies additional metrics relevant to prosecutors’ assessment of a corporation’s compliance culture and program: (1) compensation structures that promote compliance (2) use of personal devices and third-party applications.
- Independent compliance monitoring: (a) factors to consider in assessing whether a monitor is appropriate; (b) selection of monitors and (c) continuous monitoring review.
- Commitment to transparency in corporate criminal enforcement.
This memorandum concludes that vigorous corporate criminal enforcement remains critical to preserving the rule of law and ensuring equal accountabilities for all, regardless of position or privilege. Deputy Attorney General also emphasized the importance of voluntarily self-disclose misconduct to the government. DOJ’s commitment is to provide incentives to the government for those who voluntarily self-disclose misconduct.
Furthermore, according to this Memorandum, it is essential to define the ultimate beneficiary owners, that is, any person or group that (directly or indirectly), by themselves or through an interposed person, under a contract, agreement or in any other way, has a decision-making capacity. A precedent in the current beneficial ownership transparency policy is that 70% of the most prominent corruption cases between 1980 and 2010 involved anonymous companies. 2 After the global headlines of these issues and revelations in the Panama Papers, efforts to create registries of beneficial owners are still a priority for governments.
According to media articles, during the current fiscal year, Panama asked the European Union for its support to get off the list of “tax havens.” 3 A spokesperson from the EU stated that to remove Panama from such a list, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) must remove Panama from its Anti-Money Laundering Deficient List, the “gray list.” On October 4, The European Union added Anguilla, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands to its blacklist of tax havens, given that transparency in beneficial ownership does not meet the UBO transparency policy requirements. 4
As mentioned during the conference and further explained in Monaco Memo, countries should consider the issues raised and highlight the use of low threshold to require beneficial ownership declarations. Making beneficial ownership data available to the government can help countries in their efforts to control corruption, combat fraud and money laundering, as well as identify assets from criminal companies national and international.
1 The United Stated Department of Justice, “Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco Delivers Remarks on Corporate Criminal Enforcement”
2 Open Government Partnership, “Beneficial Ownership Transparency.”
3 The Tico Times, “Panama Asks EU For Support”
4 Al-Arabiya News, “EU Adds Anguilla, Bahamas to Tax-Haven Blacklist.”
The United States Department of Justice. 2022. Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco Delivers Remarks on Corporate Criminal Enforcement, 2022. Available at: <Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco Delivers Remarks on Corporate Criminal Enforcement | OPA | Department of Justice> [Accessed 12 October 2022].
Open Government Partnership. Beneficial Ownership Transparency Has Emerged as an Important Policy Tool in Countries for Combating Corruption, Stemming Illicit Financial Flows, and Fighting Tax Evasion. 2022. Available at <https://www.opengovpartnership.org/policy-area/beneficial-ownership/> [Accessed 13 October 2022].
White Case. DOJ Announces New Changes to Corporate Criminal Enforcement Policies. 2022. Available at <DOJ Announces New Changes to Corporate Criminal Enforcement Policies | White & Case LLP (whitecase.com)> [Accessed 13 October 2022].
Al-Arabiya News. European Union adds Anguilla, Bahamas to Tax-Heaven Blacklist. 2022. Available at <European Union adds Anguilla, Bahamas to tax-haven blacklist | Al Arabiya English> [Accessed 12 October 2022].
Newsroom Panama. Panama Remains on Money Laundering Gray List. 2022. Available at <Panama remains on money laundering gray list Newsroom Panama> [Accessed 19 October 2022].
The Tico Times. Panama Asks EU For Support to Get Off “Tax Haven” List. 2022. Available at <Panama asks EU for support to get off "tax haven" list : (ticotimes.net)> [Accessed 19 October 2022].