Panama said on 6 April 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. Governments across the world have begun investigating possible financial wrongdoing by the rich and powerful after the leak of more than 11.5m documents, dubbed the Panama Papers, from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
"The Panamanian government, via our foreign ministry, will create an independent commission of domestic and international experts, which are recognised for their experience, 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.
In his brief statement, Varela reiterated Panama would work with other countries over the leak, which was published in an investigation by the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and by various news organisations.
"We will work not only internally in our country, but also we will direct efforts to benefit the rest of the world. I want to make it clear that Panama will continue to cooperate with other jurisdictions as we have done judicially to pursue crimes which have been identified in our criminal code, such as the exchange of information to fulfil international treaties which have been ratified by Panama. We re-affirm our commitment as a serious country that respects international law and cooperation with the international community in search of solutions to this global problem," he declared.
The papers have revealed the secret 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.