France and Panama to create special group against tax evasion

France and Panama to create special group against tax evasion

The Central American country has been on the French blacklist of tax havens since 2016.

The French Minister of Public Accounts Gerald Darmanin and the Panamanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Alejandro Ferrer, on August 19, 2019 in Panama.  (HO / PANAMA'S FOREIGN MINISTRY / AFP)

Three years after the Panama Papers revelations, the fight against tax evasion is intensifying. France and Panama signed an agreement on Monday (August 19th) to facilitate the exchange of information to fight tax evasion. This decision was taken during the visit of the French Minister of Public Accounts, Gérald Darmanin, in this country considered by Paris as a tax haven.

“With the Minister of Economy and Finance of Panama, Hector Alexander, we signed a memorandum to bring our cooperation in tax matters to the level of international standards”, wrote Gérald Darmanin on Twitter.

The text of the memorandum, consulted by AFP, provides for the creation of a bilateral special group which will meet twice a year and will contribute to the “Strengthening of Franco-Panamanian cooperation” and to “Improve the exchange of tax-related information”. France also recognizes “The efforts made by Panama in the implementation of the standards of the World Forum of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Panama reforms its tax policy

The objective for Panama is to get out of the French list of tax havens. However, this option is not yet in sight because “It’s only at the end of the process” of in-depth exchanges of information on French people suspected of tax evasion that it could be “Studied”, Gerald Darmanin told AFP. Of the 500 tax evasion cases concerning French people revealed by the Panama Papers, around fifty have now been studied by Bercy: requests for information on these cases have received various responses from the Panamanian authorities, “Sometimes incomplete”, said the French minister.

France had already withdrawn Panama in 2012 from its list of tax havens after the signing of an agreement with the Panamanian authorities. Following the Panama Papers scandal in 2016, the country was once again blacklisted.

In recent years, this small Central American country has been reforming its financial system to bring it into line with international standards. These changes have allowed it to drop from the list of tax havens of the European Union and the OECD.