The 2019 edition of Latin Lawyer recommended Morgan & Morgan as the largest firm in Panama. “A large headcount and an established presence in the market gives Morgan & Morgan the manpower and experience required to guide some of Panama’s most significant transactions”, states the guide.
Partners Juan David Morgan Jr., Francisco Linares, Enrique De Alba, Jazmina Rovi, Inocencio Galindo, Francisco Arias, Ramon Varela, Roberto Lewis, Raul Castro, Ricardo Aleman, Albalira Montufar, Maria Teresa Mendoza, Mercedes Arauz de Grimaldo, Enrique Jimenez and Jose Carrizo, received mentions as key players.
Fanny Evans, associate at Morgan & Morgan
The British Virgin Islands (BVI) has passed legislation requiring certain legal entities carrying on relevant activities to demonstrate adequate economic substance in the BVI. The owners of any company or limited partnership registered or incorporated in the BVI should be aware of this legislation and consider how they may be affected.
The Economic Substance (Companies and Limited Partnerships) Act, 2018 (the Act) came into force on January 1st, 2019. It addresses the concerns of the European Union (“EU”) Code of Conduct Group for Business Taxation and recent OECD guidance around the economic substance of entities in jurisdictions with low or zero corporation tax. The Act demonstrates the BVI’s continued commitment to international best practice including the BVI’s implementation of the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) framework and related EU initiatives.
The Act follows closely the approach taken to address the same issue by the Crown Dependencies of the UK (Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man) and the other UK Overseas Territories including the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.
What is the effect?
The Act imposes economic substance requirements on all legal entities carrying on “relevant activities” unless they can evidence that they are tax-resident elsewhere. Entities which do not carry on a relevant activity are not subject to the economic substance requirements but may be subject to certain reporting obligations.
The relevant activities are:
1) banking business
2) insurance business
3) fund management business
4) finance and leasing business
5) headquarters business
6) shipping business
7) holding business
8) intellectual property business
9) distribution and service centre business
We look forward to further guidance by the government to assist in determining if a particular entity is carrying on a relevant activity or if exemptions may apply.
What are the reporting obligations and who will have access to information?
The information will be provided to the BVI International Tax Authority (ITA) via the BOSS system. BVI and foreign registered companies and limited partnerships will be required to report certain information to their BVI registered agent for this information to be uploaded onto the Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System regime (BOSS) so that the BVI International Tax Authority (ITA) can have access to it.
The ITA may use the information to discharge its duty to supervise and enforce the economic substance requirements. Information may be disclosed by the ITA to relevant overseas authorities in certain cases, including where there is breach of the economic substance requirements or where the entity claims to be tax resident in an EU member state.
What are the penalties?
Penalties are imposed for failure to provide required information or providing false or misleading information and for operating a legal entity in breach of the economic substance requirements + which may include fines, imprisonment and/or strike-off.
What is next?
The Regulations, Rules and formal Guidance Notes, will be issued within the following weeks. They will certainly provide further detail and a clearer picture so that all relevant entities will be able to undertake an internal review to determine what measures, if any, they should take in order to achieve compliance. We believe that, for many entities, the impact will be minimal and compliance will be straightforward.
We will leave, in our opinion, the best news for the end because we assume that after having read the above, the most important question to answer is:
Are these efforts being welcomed by the EU?
The EU has confirmed that the British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands have not been included on the EU’s updated list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes (known as the EU blacklist), which was published on March 12th, 2019. The EU’s decision confirms that both jurisdictions have implemented good tax governance principles which address the EU’s earlier concerns on the economic substance of certain entities in low or no tax jurisdictions.
BVI has overcome many pressures from various international organizations. This ability to respond demonstrates that is a highly regulated and stable jurisdiction willing to protect the wide array of services it offers. With the Economic Substance legislation BVI remarks its commitment to continue being the leading financial center.
The National Immigration Authority communicates new regulations for the immigration processes of Venezuelans in Panama
By means of Executive Decree No. 123 of March 26th, 2019, the nationals from Venezuela who currently live in Panama and hold an expired passport will be able to use this passport to file their immigration processes, provided they have an extension stamp issued by the Consulate of Venezuela.
- This Executive Decree only applies to nationals from Venezuela.
- The Venezuelans in Panama will be able to file their immigration processes, provided they have an extension stamp in their passports, issued by the Consulate of Venezuela.
- The Immigration Authority will accept the expired passports with the extension stamp up to 2 years after the original expiration date of the passports.
- This Executive Decree is effective as of March 27, 2019 for 6 months.
With the enactment of Law No. 81 on Protection of Personal Data, the Republic of Panama aims to establish the principles, rights, obligations and procedures that regulate the protection of personal data, also considering their interrelation with private life and other rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens, by natural or legal persons, public or private law, lucrative or not, that process personal data in the terms provided in the Law.
Storage or transfer of personal data:
The storage or transfer of personal data of a confidential, sensitive or restricted nature, outside the territory of Panama, by the company responsible for the storage of data or custody thereof, will be allowed, provided that the company and/or country of residence have standards of protection comparable to those of the Law or if the entity that transfers the data makes sure to adopt all the necessary steps so that it is protected. The following cases are excepted from the aforementioned requirements: (1) when the owner has granted its consent for the transfer; (2)when the transfer is necessary for the execution or enforcement of a contract by the interested party; (3) in cases of bank or money or stock exchange transfers; and (4) in case of information whose transmission is required by law or in compliance with international treaties ratified by Panama.
It establishes the obligation to develop procedures, protocols and processes for the management and transfer of data that includes the appropriate security methods.
Consent of the owner of personal data:
It is established that the processing of personal data can only take place as permitted in this Law, or with the consent of the owner of the data.
Definition of sensitive data:
Sensitive data refers to the private sphere of its owner or whose misuse could give rise to discrimination or entail a serious risk for him/her– for example, of racial origin, religious beliefs, union affiliation, political opinions, data related to the health, life, preference or sexual orientation, genetic data or biometric data, among others aimed at uniquely identifying a natural person.
Sensitive data can not be transferred except: (i) by explicit consent of the owner; (ii) when necessary to safeguard the owner’s life; (iii) when it is necessary for the recognition, exercise or defense of a right in a judicial proceeding; and (iv) when it has a historical, statistical or scientific purpose.
Rights of Access, Rectification, Cancellation, Opposition and Portability:
The rights of owners of personal data to exercise over those responsible for database processing are: (i) Access (to obtain the data and know the purpose and origin for which they were collected), (ii) Rectification (to access and request correction, modification or update), (iii) Cancellation (to request deletion of data), (iv) Opposition (refusal to provide or revoke its consent) and (v) Portability (right to obtain a copy of all personal data in a structure matter in certain circumstances).
The database custodians that transfer personal data stored in a database to third parties must keep a record of them, which must be available to ANTAI, if requested to do so.
Personal Data Protection Council:
The Personal Data Protection Council is created, which has the following functions: to advise ANTAI in relation to the Law, recommend public policies, evaluate cases submitted for consultations and develop internal regulations and it is composed by:
- the Minister of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries;
- the General Administrator of the Authority for the Protection of Consumers and the Defense of Competition (ACODECO);
- the General Director of ANTAI;
- the Ombudsman, or its nominee;
- a representative of the National Council of Private Enterprises (CONEP);
- a representative of the National Bar Association;
- a representative of the Panama Banking Association;
- a representative of Electoral Tribunal; and
- a representative of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.
The National Government Innovation Authority will have the right to address the council as a technical advisor.
Duty to compensate for pecuniary and/or moral damages caused by the unlawful handling of personal data.
National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (“ANTAI”):
Right to appeal against ANTAI in case of claims to any database storage operator to resolve differences in the exercise of the aforementioned rights. The competent body for the fulfillment of the obligations of this Law is ANTAI except in the case of estities regulated by special laws, in which case the claimant must first submit its claim to the competent regulatory authority. The ANTAI, through the Directorate established to consider the matter, is granted the powers to impose sanctions. The decision of the Directorate in the ANTAI established to consider these proceedings may be challenged through a reconsideration appeal. A subsequent appeal may be filed with the Director General of ANTAI.
The sanctions may be between US$1,000 and US$10,000, depending on the severity and recurrence and may be a written warning, citation before the ANTAI, fine, closure of the database registration or suspension and disqualification of the storage activity and/or treatment of personal data. There are minor infractions (for example: not sending the information required by ANTAI), serious infractions (for example: processing data without the owner’s consent) and very serious infractions (for example: the collection of personal data in a malicious way).
This law will take effect two (2) years after its promulgation.
More than 500 local and international companies and individuals from the maritime industry gathered in the Republic of Panama for the fourteenth edition of Panama Maritime Conference & Exhibition, the largest maritime event in Panama, which took place from March 17th to March 19th, 2019, at the Megapolis Convention Center.
Several topics were discussed during the conferences, being “Legal Implications of Technological Disruptions in Shipping, Ports and Logistics and Recent Development in Maritime Financing” one of the most attended, in which Dr. Francisco Linares served as the moderator. During said conference, Dr. Enrique De Alba talked about “Legal Implications of the New Incentives for Maritime Financing in Panama”.
Morgan & Morgan excelled as one of the main sponsors to this event in which our attorney Andres V. Mejia acted as a member of the Organizing Committee.
Panama Maritime Conference & Exhibition 2019 was a joint effort of the Panamanian Maritime Law Association and the Maritime Chamber of Panama, together with the Panama Canal Authority and the Panama Maritime Authority.
Morgan & Morgan advised Farallon Nicaragua in the sale of its shrimp producing and supplying business to Cooke Inc.
Morgan & Morgan acted as Panamanian legal counsel to Farallon Nicaragua, a vertically integrated producer of farmed shrimp and a leading supplier of branded fresh-frozen shrimp to major markets in Asia Europe and the U.S., in connection with the sale of its business to Cooke Inc., a New Brunswick Canadian company and parent of Cooke Aquaculture Inc.
Morgan & Morgan was required to advise Farallon Nicaragua on legal matters related to this M&A transaction.
Farallon Nicaragua is headquartered in Leon, Nicaragua, employs 384 people, and operates a hatchery, three farms and an onsite processing plant from four locations.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Partners Francisco Arias G. and Roberto Vidal, participated in this transaction.
The Morgan & Morgan brand was featured as one of the most important in the Central American region in the report “Companies of Regional Impact” prepared by Forbes Central America. The study, which was conducted through surveys of 400 Central American professionals, highlights the companies that have made a positive impact in the region through their corporate social responsibility, commercial presence, continuous improvement of processes and corporate identity.
Morgan & Morgan appears in the list of Panama along with other recognized Panamanian brands such as Copa, Panama Canal, ASSA, Cable & Wireless, Grupo Melo and Cervecería Nacional, among others.
This new recognition is added to others that our organization has already received in this area, a fact that reaffirms a reputation of excellence both locally and internationally.
Morgan & Morgan featured in the International Comparative Legal Guide to: Investor-State Arbitration 2019
Jose Carrizo, partner and head of the Litigation and Dispute Resolution practice group of the firm, contributed with the International Comparative Legal Guide to: Investor-State Arbitration 2019, a publication that summarizes common issues in investor-state arbitration laws and regulations.
Mr. Carrizo is an experienced attorney with ample knowledge in both domestic and international arbitration processes. He has served as arbitrator in the National Arbitration and Mediation (NAM), based in New York. Mr. Carrizo is also a member of the Panama Chapter of the International Arbitration Court of the International Chamber of Commerce.
The complete guide is available here.
Morgan & Morgan, in partnership with Grupo Camacho Internacional (Costa Rica), presented a forum on Transfer Pricing Matters for a distinguished group of clients of the firm with the objective of updating them about important changes on this complex issue, which affects both local and multinationals companies with operations in Panama.
The topics were presented by Vladimir Blanco Solano and José Guerra Tovar, partner and manager of Grupo Camacho Internacional. As well as partner Enrique Jimenez and lawyers Adolfo Campos, Amanda Barraza and Angelica Ortiz; and the accountant Carlos Sinisterra; all of them members of the Tax Law Department of Morgan & Morgan.
Thus, Morgan & Morgan reaffirms its commitment as a leading firm in tax and fiscal matters, always ahead in benefit of their clients.
Morgan & Morgan, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Chiriquí (CAMCHI), presented the forum: Trends in Labor Law 2019; a seminar organized for the business sector of the province of Chiriqui in the Republic of Panama. The topics were presented by lawyers Ricardo Aleman, Maria Teresa Mendoza and Milagros Caballero, labor law specialists.
The objective of the seminar was to reinforce the companies on issues about:
- Sexual harassment and discrimination within the company and at an education level.
- Main issues regarding employee’s paternity: leave and child support.
- Features of special privileges: disability and chronic disease.
Felipe Venicio Rodríguez, president of CAMCHI, said he was pleased by the opportunity, through the alliance with Morgan & Morgan, so that employers and employees can keep up with these issues of social interest and their respective regulations, which in many cases tend to fail in some sectors, for lack of knowledge: “The most important thing is that we cover this part of Corporate Social Responsibility, with these activities, which are considered priority and key to contribute to the strengthening and development of the companies and our society in general; we hope it can be exploited to the maximum by each one of the participants”, added Rodriguez.