Lawyers receding from the act of Resident Agent from Panamanian SA’s.


Panamanian law requires that all corporations and other fictitious entities, such as private interest foundations and trusts, have a resident agent domiciled in the Republic of Panama. But since the arrival of the new regulations regarding resident agent and the controls imposed by the Superintendence of Non-Financial Subjects (SSNF), “many legal professionals have found a formula to disassociate themselves from that supervision, renouncing their status as resident agent,” the lawyer and president of the National Bar Association, Juan Carlos Araúz, told ‘La Deana’.

He explained that those who have been resigning do so because it is not competitive for them to spend the time involved in completing all the requirements of the Superintendence of Non-Financial Subjects and the Financial Analysis Unit (UAF) compared to what is charged as fees for offering the service. .

“The activity has lost interest in some lawyers due to the responsibilities that are currently assigned to be a resident agent,” Araúz pointed out, highlighting that the resident agent service is one of the activities that is contemplated in the law of the legal profession as “exclusive activities of lawyers”.

Lawyer Edna Ramos, for her part, agreed with Araúz that lawyers are reluctant to offer these services not only because of the demands of the Financial Action Group (GAFI), but also because of the restrictive regulations that Panama has established on this particular service. resident agent, which “affects the legal profession.”

Ramos said that “what is going to happen here is what they wanted from the beginning, that this service be centralized in the least number of firms possible, because at this time it is difficult, if not impossible, for the SSNF, more recent, to less robust, is precisely the one in charge of verifying compliance with the regulations, in no less than 60 thousand legal and natural persons, understand that they are 30 thousand lawyers, 20 thousand public accountants, in addition to exchange houses, casinos, brokers real estate, property developers.

When asked about who would stay with the business if the lawyers who offer the resident agent service resign, and if it would be the big law firms, Araúz replied that “not necessarily.” “A lawyer who wants to comply and be subject to controls. There are companies that are very small family activities and that client profile is looking for an individual lawyer they trust,” said Araúz,

He insisted that the fact that “I do not offer the service does not mean that someone else will not offer it; what the company will always have is a registered resident agent”. He stressed that the resident agent service will continue to be carried out by lawyers who agree to comply with the rules, rather than with the Gafi, the internal ones that have been approved in light of the new integration of the world.

According to Araúz, simply what has been determined is that, at least from the Bar Association, they are committed to training lawyers so that everyone can be in the same possibility, that is, evaluating the risk that at the end of the day motivates someone to resign as a resident agent. “If I can measure and prove that my client portfolio in terms of resident agent is not a risk, I will continue to provide the service on a regular basis, having my income on a daily basis,” said Araúz.

He added that now what one must have is an evaluation of the risk involved in having a specific client and that goes hand in hand with communication, that is, a lot of information that must be provided and it is up to the client to supply it . He recalled that there was a time when these records were not kept and in the current era in which they are kept in an obligatory way, it has also been difficult for others to document those client profiles from perhaps many years ago; and for this reason, as a more efficient solution, they have found the way to renounce their status as resident agent.

“Today, the State, through the Public Registry, simply decrees the company that does not have a resident agent suspended and paralyzes its activities until it appoints a resident agent who can be linked to all the information that must be completed,” Araúz said.

Lawyer Adolfo Linares, for his part, argued that “the final intentions are that Panamanian lawyers do not offer export legal services, something that US and European lawyers and professionals do, whose financial centers, the The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) and the Gafi do not bother them like here”. “As long as we have a pusillanimous and subservient foreign policy, we will never leave the lists,” Linares said.

On August 18, the SSNF announced that Panama updated the guidelines and guidelines for professionals who carry out subject activities to supervision, through Agreement No. JD-02-2022 of July 28, 2022, which replaces Agreement No. JD-01 of June 25 , 2022, in order to raise the level of compliance with a risk-based approach, strengthen the money laundering prevention system and the country’s competitiveness.

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