The Government of Panama, acting through its president, Juan Carlos Varela, has engaged a New York public relations firm, in an attempt to repair the massive damage, to its national reputation, caused by the Panama Papers. Since the ICIJ began releasing information concerning Mossack Fonseca's global corporate clients, who have been shown to be corrupt national leaders and PEPs, international financial criminals, tax evaders, and a wide assortment of the usual suspects, Panama's reputation as an offshore financial center has seriously declined, as have the number of its new clients.
In a filing with the US government, because anyone acting as an agent of a foreign state or power must register with Washington, the New York City public relations firm of Bellwether Strategies, LLC. has indicated that it has a contractual relationship with the Republic of Panama, for the stated purpose of repairing its image, due to the fallout from the continuing release of embarrassing documents, in the Panama Papers scandal. Its website states that Bellwether engages in "National Branding."
The filing shows that Bellwether, which was formed ten years ago, is to receive $50,000 per month, for its services, which are specifically described as the conduct of a public relations campaign, responding to the Panama Papers. The firm has their work cut out for them, for there is now a global focus upon Panama, since the first document and information release.
Neither the hopelessly corrupt court system, nor the laws, nor the lucrative bearer share industry that attracts dirty money has been reformed, or even tweaked, to start a clean up of the systemic problems facing Panama. Unfortunately, it is just the opposite; cases against corrupt politicians continue to be dismissed, or delayed indefinitely, and massive losses of government funds are not being sought, for they are in the hands of the existing power structure, which includes an organized crime syndicate, and the so-called reformist government of President Varela, is not chasing the members of the country's kleptocracy.
Will the new spin doctors be able to rehabilitate Panama's tarnished image ? We cannot say, but we will be watching.
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock
Chronicles of Monte Friesner