Panamanian lawyer and Mossack Fonseca & Co representative Ramses Owens was recently in the Isle of Man as part of a European-wide campaign to raise his country's profile as a well-regulated finance centre and to promote its financial products.

Mr Owens had travelled from Panama to meet with his Jersey-based colleague Nick Poole and Kate Higgins from the Isle of Man branch of Mossack's operation.

He explained how products, such as Panamanian private foundations investment vehicles that were a cross between a private company and a trust were products that offered significant benefits, but that the European misconception of Panama was working against the products' more widespread acceptance.

'I would maintain that Panama is one of the world's best kept secrets in terms of its long established and sophisticated financial regulatory system. Because Panama has much to offer, I decided to set the record straight and embark on a series of presentations.'

Mr Owens (his grandfather was Irish) had already been in the Channel Islands, and on leaving the Island, was heading to Geneva.

'Since the arrest of General Noriega, Panama's economy has grown successfully. We have a thriving finance sector, but Panama s economy doesn't rely solely on that sector for its growth.

'Panama is now a very stable country and has quietly been rebuilding its economy. This has been a key part of my presentations and I've found that many people have been very surprised to learn that the "real" Panama is very far removed from the popular misconceptions.

'As for Panama private foundations, as a product they have been very well received and have much to offer professional intermediaries, many of whom view them as a viable alternative to trusts. It's a sophisticated product from a sophisticated country with robust regulatory legislation going back to the 1920s.

'Since 1989 Panama has witnessed significant economic, social and political developments and this year has been formally removed from the Financial Action Task Force black list. In short, much has happened since the days of Noriega, and as I mention in my presentations, all jurisdictions have their cross to bear.'

His colleagues, Nick Poole and Kate Higgins, added that Ramses' presentations were not just a series of slides and weighty financial talk.

Ramses also likes to break into a little salsa to liven up the proceedings.

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