Panama Draws Regional Cash

Jul 1, 2008

Panama is developing as a regional money center, drawing the majority of flow from politically unstable countries. Locals are also generating significant deposits.

by Andy Webb-Vidal

Panama may be barely an eighth of the size of Venezuela, but it has a welcoming investment environment and bright economic prospects. This contrasts markedly with the worsening business and political climate in some parts of LatAm, making Panama a magnet for cash fleeing for more stable havens.

According to Panama’s Banking Superintendent, deposits from sources in Venezuela, including banks, surged from the $811 million in 2006 to $1.32 billion at end of 2007, a hike of 63%. This is partly driven by rising numbers of mostly wealthy Venezuelans migrating to Panama.

“Many people prefer Panama over the US for a number of reasons, chief among them is the question of visas,” says Miguel Octavio, director of BBO Servicios Financieros, a brokerage in Caracas. “Culturally it’s more like Venezuela, and of course Panama has the US dollar, so it has received lots of attention...

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