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Panama ‘willing to cooperate fully’ over finance scandal

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Secretary General Angel Gurria gestures as he answers questions during a press conference in Tokyo on April 11, 2016.  The organisation on April 11 released the Japan 2016 organisation  Territorial Review.  / AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Secretary General Angel Gurria gestures as he answers questions during a press conference in Tokyo on April 11, 2016.<br />The organisation on April 11 released the Japan 2016 organisation Territorial Review. / AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA

OECD head Angel Gurria said on Monday that Panama is “willing to cooperate fully” with his organisation in the wake of a massive leak of financial data that has sent shockwaves around the world.

Gurria told a press conference in Tokyo that Isabel De Saint Malo, vice president of the Central American country, called him last week to express cooperation with the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Panama is scrambling to avert redesignation as a tax haven that facilitates money laundering after the disclosure of offshore dealings of many of the world’s wealthy, famous and infamous in the so-called Panama Papers revelations.

The scandal, which has already caused the Icelandic prime minister to resign, came when millions of documents covering nearly 40 years of business were leaked from the archives of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

“I have to say that the vice president of Panama called me last week and she expressed the government is willing to cooperate fully with the OECD,” Gurria said.

“My expectation is that this very unfortunate event may trigger a reaction by the government of Panama to fully join the rest of the world in this exercise about transparency,” said Gurria, who is OECD secretary-general.

“I think this event will help us to understand that the move towards transparency is not going to stop, that there is no reverse,” he said.

His comment comes after the Panamanian vice president, who is also the country’s foreign minister, told AFP last week in an exclusive interview that her country will deepen talks with the OECD on sharing tax information.

“We are going to establish technical-level dialogue between Panama and the OECD specifically on exchanging information,” she told AFP.



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