Panama will form commission to review financial practices

Governments across the world have begun investigating possible financial wrongdoing by the rich and powerful after the leak of more than 11.5 million documents, dubbed the "Panama Papers," from a the Panamanian law firm.

AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco
People walk past the Arango Orillac Building which lists the Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama City, Tuesday, April 5, 2016. Millions of confidential documents were leaked from the Panama-based law firm, revealing details of how some of the globe's richest people funnel their assets into secretive shell companies set up here and in other lightly regulated jurisdictions.

Panama said on Wednesday it would form an independent commission to review the country's financial practices following the leak of information from a local law firm that has embarrassed a clutch of world leaders.

"The Panamanian government, via our foreign ministry, will create an independent commission of domestic and international experts ... to evaluate our current practices and propose the adoption of measures that we will share with other countries of the world to strengthen the transparency of the financial and legal systems," President Juan Carlos Varela said in a televised address.

Governments across the world have begun investigating possible financial wrongdoing by the rich and powerful after the leak of more than 11.5 million documents, dubbed the "Panama Papers," from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

In his brief statement, Varela reiterated Panama would work with other countries over the leak, which was published in an investigation by the U.S.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and various news organizations.

In an apparent sideswipe at the media, he said: "Serious and responsible governments don't negotiate the adoption of international obligations via the media, we do it via diplomacy and serious, responsible and constructive dialog."

The papers have revealed financial arrangements of prominent figures, including friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, relatives of the prime ministers of Britain and Pakistan and Chinese President Xi Jinping, as well as Ukraine's president.

Panama's finance minister, Dulcidio De La Guardia, who admitted the scandal has damaged Panama's reputation, said the country was still discussing who would be on the commission.

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