A Panama mission headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Janaina Tewaney Mencomo is in Washington with issues such as the fight against money laundering high on the agenda.
The meeting comes soon after the sons of former president Ricardo returned to Panama after completing their jail terms for laundering $28 million which, they told a New York court, they did at the behest of their father who has since been declared ‘corrupt’ by the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken and he and his family are persona non grata in the United States while speculation is rife that his and the supermarket chain are destined for the Clinton list which means that no one will be able to trade with him. Other issues such as security, trade, the environment, and conservation, will also be on the table.
The Panamanian mission will meet with Chris Dodd, Special Advisor to President, Joe Biden; Todd Robinson, Under Secretary of State; Ricardo Zúñiga, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State; Brian Nelson, Treasury Assistant Secretary, as well as with senators and congressmen to address issues such as security, trade, environment, and the International Financial Analysis Group (FATF) list. Panama is on FATF’s gray list of countries that have deficiencies in the fight against money laundering.
The mission, also includes the Minister of Economy and Finance, Héctor Alexander; the Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs and Cooperation, Yill Otero, and the technical secretary of the National Commission against Money Laundering, the Financing of Terrorism and the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Isabel Vecchio Arófulo.
The Panamanian mission will meet with the representatives of the State: Chris Dodd, Special Advisor to the President of the United States, Joe Biden; Todd Robinson, Under Secretary of State; Ricardo Zúñiga, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State; Brian Nelson, Treasury Assistant Secretary, as well as with senators and congressmen to address issues such as security, trade, environment, and the International Financial Analysis Group (FATF) list.
Panama is on the FATF gray list of countries that have deficiencies in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. It is also on the European Union (EU) blacklist of tax havens.
The US ambassador in Panama, Mari Carmen Aponte, urged the National Assembly in December to approve a bill for asset forfeiture, as it is a tool to fight criminal organizations and the flow of illicit money.
The approval of this legislation "is a very important message that Panama can send not only to criminals and criminal organizations but also to the rest of the region and to all those regulatory agencies that ensure transparency and the good flow of money in Panama.", said Aponte
The asset forfeiture bill was presented in April 2021 before the Assembly, with an official majority, by the Minister of Public Security, Juan Manuel Pino, but its discussion has not advanced. Several deputies spoke against the approval of the law, alleging that it would be in the words of the Martinelli mantra an instrument of “political persecution.”
Foreign Minister Tewaney will also hold a meeting with Secretary John Kerry, United States' special presidential envoy for climate, regarding the celebration of the Our Ocean 2023 Conference in Panama in March.