Last week Mark at his Digital Money World blog mentioned a rumor circulating about the popular e-currency Liberty Reserve. It turns out that this rumor was NOT true. Here is a copy of a message coming directly from Liberty Reserve administration.
10-19-07 We have received a few e-mails regarding a rumor that our offices were raided by the authorities. This is a falsehood and is likely an attempt to discredit us by our competitors. We advise everyone to check our website and this blog for the only complete, accurate and up to date information.
Unfortunately, this is likely not the last time you will hear all sorts of “news releases” on blogs, forums, or e-mails.
There are no M.L.A.T* treaties signed, or otherwise established between Costa Rica and the United States. HOWEVER, there are M.L.A.T* and cooperation agreements established and in force with the governments of the United Kingdom, Panama and many other countries. Unlike Liberty Reserve, which is registered in Costa Rica, any company that claims to be registered in Panama, United Kingdom or in any of the countries on the M.L.A.T* list is in fact in danger of being raided by US authorities and are just as vulnerable to unfair seizures as e-gold.
As you can clearly see, we stand behind our product, our service and our dedication to this business. We are proud of the outcome and the feedback that we receive from our customers.
One thing I should point out is that whoever wrote that response is being a bit extreme. While it is true that Panama has signed a M.L.A.T with the United States it is not as if the United States government can just raid your offices whenever they feel like it.
Essentially Panama will cooperate in a multi-national case involving narcotics and money laundering (these crimes need to be tied to narcotics). They also will get involved in cases concerning child pornography and real terrorism. If you are not a narcotics dealer and are not a money launderer (money launders are typically dealing with many millions of dollars), not a child pornographer, and not a terrorist you should not be concerned by this. The MLAT requires that there first need to a criminal prosecution case on file in the criminal courts of the requesting government (which means no fishing expeditions) then through diplomatic channels involving the embassies, requests are made for information, then reviewed by Panama officials and a decision on compliance is made or requests for more information are made so a determination can be arrived at. These cases can take months and even years for completion. At times the country where the bank is located has been known to once alerted to the problem, conduct their own investigation first and this usually requires them to seize the relevant records and documents which can stall the process for a long time even years since their justice systems typically moves quite slow and statues of limitation can run out, please don’t construe this to mean Panama does this routinely it is just something that does occur from time to time around the world. The MLAT has no application to civil cases such as divorce, bankruptcy, civil judgments, business litigation, any sort of civil litigation, civil tax matters etc. Taxation matters of any sort are not covered by this as far as Panama is concerned. Income tax evasion is a civil (non-criminal) offense in Panama. Switzerland cooperates on income tax cases if the return is filed falsely like all income was not declared, things were omitted or so the complaining government says. Panama has no extradition treaties. Panama passes this test.
For a list of countries that have M.L.A.Ts signed with the United States go here:
For a list of countries that have Tax Treaties signed with the United States go here:
Another strong point of Costa Rican incorporation is that just like in for example Panama, Banks are required by law to maintain absolute secrecy regarding the operations of their clients. Information about normal banking operations is not passed on to any government agency – including the Tax Department. Information given to local attorneys/notaries is protected by professional secrecy.
I think I will end my rant here.
Check out this info that I’ve found:
“TIEAs are now in effect with Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guernsey, Guyana, Honduras, the Isle of Man, Jersey, the Marshall Islands, Mexico, Peru, St. Lucia, and Trinidad & Tobago. In a handful of these countries, including Mexico and Barbados, ordinary tax treaties are in effect, but in most jurisdictions “encouraged” to sign TIEAs, information flows only one way—to the U.S.”
This was posted July 2006 too!!
Hmm, I think PanamaLaw needs to check their facts and update them once in a while. I erase the claim that Costa Rica has no tax treaties signed with anyone so as to not misinform anyone. It seems there is a lot of outdated information out there on the net so when researching this topic, be weary of being misinformed. Consult with an offshore asset protection specialist who is knowledgeable and if they have a website call them up and ask them how old is the info posted and if anything has changed since! I bet you most of the offshore websites haven’t been updated in ages.