The Superintendency of Banks of Panama recently adopted an agreement obliging all general and international licensed banks in Panama to submit to reviews by credit rating agencies. Only agencies which comply with the fundamentals of the code of conduct for credit-rating agencies set forth by the International Organisation of Securities Commissions are acceptable for the purposes of compliance with the agreement.
As of late 2009, Panamanian banks are obliged to comply with amended capital reserve requirements. The banking law requires that general licence banks (ie, banks that are licensed to engage in all kinds of domestic and international banking transactions in Panama) maintain an adjusted capital of no less than 8% of risk-weighted assets and
off-balance sheet items.
Following steps taken by the US financial authorities, Panama's banking regulator recently formally intervened in Stanford Bank (Panama) SA, a branch of Stanford International Bank. This is the first time that the regulator has exercised its intervention powers under the recently reformed banking law.
The National Securities Commission recently issued Opinion 13-2008, offering its administrative position on whether contracts for difference (CFDs) may be the object of a public offering in Panama. The commission has decided to re-evaluate its prior position to make it consistent with criteria that maintain that CFDs are not a 'security' under the definition in the Securities Law.
By means of Opinion 8-2008 the National Securities Commission has issued its administrative position on the possibility of closed investment funds undertaking an increase in authorized capital pursuant to the Securities Law and applicable regulations issued by the commission.
By means of Opinion 5-2008 of June 20 2008, the National Securities Commission has issued its administrative position on intermediation activities undertaken by Panamanian companies in the international foreign exchange markets. The commission has reiterated its prior position that foreign exchange investments are not considered to be ‘securities’ for the purposes of Panamanian law.
By means of Opinion 1-2008 of January 23 2008 the National Securities Commission has confirmed its administrative position on the scope and application of Article 17 of Agreement 8-2000, which regulates the content and form of financial statements and other relevant information that must be periodically filed before the commission by listed entities; in particular, the issue of auditor rotation.
In Opinion 10-2007 the National Securities Commission issued an administrative position on whether the board of directors of a company which is the subject of a hostile takeover may adopt defensive mechanisms (eg, standstill agreements, golden parachutes, porcupine provisions, white knights, lock-up options and poison pills) to counter the takeover.
The National Securities Commission recently issued an opinion offering its administrative position on the issue of whether foreign economic agents that operate in Panama or abroad and exclusively engage in investing in contracts for difference in the market are subject to regulation.
The National Securities Commission has issued its administrative position on the activities of a company engaged exclusively in the purchase and sale of currency in the international markets, with or without financing schemes, and clarified whether such a company requires a licence under the Securities Law and its regulations.
The National Securities Commission has issued Opinion 13-2006 in connection with securities issued as financial structures. In particular, the opinion focused on whether, for the purposes of an investment portfolio, these should be considered as a risk of the issuer or an underlying risk, and whether the maximum investment limits are applicable to the issuer or to the underlying entity.
The National Securities Commission has issued an opinion regarding the internal regulations of clearing agency Central Latinoamericana de Valores SA (LATINCLEAR). The opinion clarifies to which participants LATINCLEAR's internal regulations apply, stating that they do not distinguish between the public or private nature of participant entities in LATINCLEAR.
The National Securities Commission has issued an administrative opinion relating to the obligation on an issuer registered with the commission to notify it of any offer made through the Panama Stock Exchange to acquire up to 25% of the issuer's outstanding shares.
The National Securities Commission has issued an opinion regarding the appointment of beneficiaries by clients of a broker-dealer in securities custody agreements and investment accounts. The question was whether a broker-dealer may deliver the securities to the beneficiary upon the death of the principal account holder.
By means of Agreement 01-2006 of February 6 2006, the National Securities Commission regulates the registration procedure applicable to investment companies that fulfil certain criteria. The agreement also sets out, among other things, the information that must be provided alongside the registration application.
An agreement of August 5 2005 gives the National Securities Commission the power to regulate the provisions of Law 10/1993, which created incentives for the establishment of pension and retirement plans in Panama. These plans are voluntary and complement the pensions granted by the Social Security Fund.
The National Securities Commission regulates the system requiring registered issuers to disclose relevant facts. Through Agreement 10/2005, the commission imposes an obligation on all companies with registered securities, along with their subsidiaries or controlling companies, to disclose relevant facts which may affect the market price of their securities.
Under the Securities Law the National Securities Commission is entitled to issue its own regulations as well as opinions that express its administrative position with respect to the application of the law and its regulations. In recent months the commission has issued several opinions and regulations.
Despite increases in maintenance costs, incorporations in Panama increased by 30% in 2004. Recent changes to the Tax Code mean that private foundations and corporations will pay $250 in annual tax for the first year, rising to $300 in subsequent years.
The Superintendency of Banks has adopted a resolution setting out certain requirements regarding its authority over merger and acquisition transactions, as well as the transfer of bank and economic group shares.