In none of the cases mentioned by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) did we find evidence of non-compliance. In fact, since our founding (1985), we have never been part of any legal proceedings in the jurisdictions where we work.
At ALCOGAL we are proud of the seriousness, efficiency, and thoroughness with which we have worked since our foundation in 1985.
Therefore, we want to make it clear:
ALCOGAL has always cooperated immediately, proactively, and effectively with any request from the competent authorities (regulators, supervisors, judicial, tax, or any other authorities), and these entities can attest to that.
We reject outright any insinuation of Administrative Compliance failures; For 35 years we have been subject to the supervision by regulatory bodies in different jurisdictions, with unimpeachable results.
Myths VS Facts
ALCOGAL has been following the publications related to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and; although we are not surprised about the continued recycling of information that is outdated, taken out of context or simply generated to create confusion; out of consideration for our clients and the public, we will now demystify the main inaccuracies regarding our organization:
1 .Myth: “The firm builds illegal offshore empires”
Fact: Companies are legal instruments, and their usage is recognized worldwide. They are used, among other reasons, to organize capital and are regulated in all jurisdictions where we operate.
The publications of the ICIJ and its allies show time and time again, how our compliance team requested the legal requirements and alerted the authorities whenever irregular information was detected. Additionally, in most of the published cases, Alcogal resigned as resident agent of the companies in due time.
2. Myth: “The firm advised clients to evade taxes”.
Fact: Alcogal’s activities are exclusively related to legal and corporate matters. We do not provide financial services or tax advice in relation to our international corporate services.
Generally, the companies incorporated by Alcogal are requested by professional intermediaries (banks, corporate service providers, trust companies, law firms, etc.), of whom the final beneficiaries of these companies are direct clients.
Alcogal does not intervene with and is not responsible for any of the financial transactions that may have been carried out by or through these companies.
In addition, in all cases, Alcogal complied with the due diligence requirements applicable at the time of incorporation or appointment as resident agent of the entities to which we provide this service, adapting the due diligence process to fit within the parameters of the new laws that have been implemented in this area.
3. Myth: “The firm worked for corrupt and investigated clients.
Fact: In all cases mentioned in the journalistic investigations, Alcogal’s direct clients did not have any warning reports from the authorities at the time.
The review of their profiles was carried out as required by the applicable legislation at the time and it was precisely due to the constant auditing by Alcogal’s compliance team that, in most of the published cases, situations were detected in which clarifications were requested from the client and alerts were raised to the corresponding authorities whenever necessary.
Precisely, this practice of reviewing and analyzing each case allowed us to make the timely decisions to resign as resident agents of many of the companies that today are mentioned in the publications by the ICIJ and its allies, who acknowledge this in their own writings.
In addition, these cases are more than seven years old, and in the cases in which there have been judicial investigations, Alcogal has fully cooperated with the competent authorities.
Of the companies mentioned in the publications, only 20 remain active with Alcogal, which as of this date have not registered any irregularities and are kept under supervision, as has always been the case.
4. Myth: “The firm hid information about its clients to the authorities”.
Fact: The very same communications obtained by the ICIJ, possibly in illegal fashion, include e-mails and alerts sent to the authorities whenever adverse information was detected about a company in which we acted as resident agent.
In all cases where it was necessary, we proceeded to verify and/or report to the competent authorities.
In addition, the firm, as has always been its practice, has efficiently attended all international legal assistance requests from the authorities.
In none of the cases has Alcogal been investigated or convicted in any jurisdiction where it operates and is recognized for its prompt support to authorities and supervisors.
5. Myth: “The firm is part of a money laundering and corruption scheme”.
Fact: As previously mentioned, Alcogal generally incorporates companies at the request of professional intermediaries (banks, corporate service providers, trust companies, law firms, etc.), of whom the final beneficiaries of these companies are direct clients. We do not advise those beneficial owners.
In no way has Alcogal continued to serve as resident agent of any company possibly related to these practices.
By stating these clarifications about the negative and ill-intended tone of the latest journalistic publications, we would like to reiterate the following:
- Alcogal always acts in compliance with the law. We have more than 30 years of professional practice in six different jurisdictions in full compliance with all regulations of each market.
- We reject the sensationalist view and angle that these publications continue to project about our role as lawyers and the role of the firm in the incorporation of companies, which arelegal instruments used worldwide.
- The publications mention and acknowledge how Alcogal conducted the corresponding audits, raised the alerts to the competent authorities and resigned as resident agent of the companies whenever any irregular situation was detected.
- However, the very same journalistic reports contrast these real and verifiable facts with subjective and negative comments to create the perception that Alcogal did not act correctly. This is something that we reject categorically.
- It is clear that this is not a matter of Administrative Compliance or the law, but instead we are facing a journalistic perception that seeks to demonize the industry in which we operate, and force conclusions based on events that occurred after the creation of companies where Alcogal had no involvement at all.
- We reiterate that these publications continue to confuse current due diligence requirements with cases or situations that occurred before new due diligence laws came into effect. This lack of awareness or manifest ignorance only seeks to negatively frame Alcogal and create a perception of non-compliance. This is something that we categorically reject.
- ALCOGAL reiterates its rejection of any insinuation about Administrative Compliance failures or irregular practices of our legal service, which is duly regulated and based on the highest ethical standards that have been the core of this firm since its foundation in 1985.
We invite you to learn more about us at www.alcogalresponde.com
ALCOGAL has a proven record of complete collaboration with our regulator and competent authorities upon their request of relevant information. This has always been, and will continue to be, the case because we have nothing to hide. We will continue to collaborate openly with the Superintendency of Non-Financial Subjects, the Attorney General’s Office or any other competent authority.
As a law firm operating for more than 35 years, we are primarily interested in shedding light on the misleading assumptions, inaccuracies and false information that has been published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
For more information visit www.alcogalresponde.com/en
ALCOGAL rejects the conjectures, inaccuracies and falsehoods of the publications made this October 3rd ,2021, by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Against this, we state the following:
The publications made today clearly demonstrate that both ICIJ and other organizations that contacted us only did so as a mere formality: they had already decided who would be guilty and who would be innocent in their particular way of understanding due diligence processes. With a prejudice already adopted – even branded (Pandora Papers) – the only interest was to confirm their own beliefs.
ALCOGAL is a proud company with an excellent legacy and promising trajectory, and we will vigorously defend our reputation as necessary.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We are widely recognized as a top-tier law firm in most of our main practice areas, in particular: telecommunications, port activities, transportation, energy, construction, manufacturing, banking, mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, public bids, labor, litigation, arbitration and international corporate services.
No. Since our establishment in 1985, we have never faced any charges related to improper activities, nor have we been convicted of any type of illegal activity in the jurisdictions in which we operate.
3. In the cases mentioned in the ICIJ investigation, has Alcogal failed to comply with the processes established by the law?
No. Alcogal has always acted in compliance with existing legislation in the jurisdictions in which it operates. Our internal audit found no evidence of non-compliance in any of the cases mentioned by the ICIJ. We outright reject any insinuation of regulatory non-compliance; for more than 35 years we have been subject to supervision by regulators in different jurisdictions, with satisfactory results.
4. What is the Regulatory Compliance and Due Diligence process to be followed when incorporating a company?
Currently, the laws in force in each of the jurisdictions in which we operate require us to identify the beneficial owner of each company, a requirement that we fully comply with. Under previous laws, however, when the Resident Agent received a request through a professional client (bank, other law firms, accounting firms, etc.), the Agent could rely on the identification and processes performed by such professional client. The information was to be provided to the Agent upon request. This procedure was embodied in a written agreement between the parties.
5. Why does the questionnaire imply that the firm did not perform due diligence or supervision of its clients?
The questionnaire submitted by the ICIJ is riddled with inaccurate and outdated information that projects an unfair and negative image of the firm’s activities. In some cases, the persons mentioned were never our clients. In other cases, the companies indicated were not incorporated by Alcogal. In most of the questions, current due diligence requirements are extrapolated to cases or situations that occurred prior to the entry into force of current due diligence laws and that, at the time they occurred, clearly fell within the applicable legal standards. In other words, they ignore the legal reality of each case and the fact that the applicable standards have evolved.
Alcogal has a rigorous Due Diligence process, designed with a risk-based approach and following not only the laws in force in each jurisdiction in which we operate, but also the recommendations of international organizations. Our internal policies take into account the appropriate identification of clients and beneficial owners, and factors such as their geographic location, professional activity, track record and reputation. We also consider the activities that would be carried out by the requested company.
Due diligence processes are carried out on an ongoing basis throughout the duration of the professional relationship.
Alcogal fully cooperates with the authorities. Alcogal has always cooperated immediately, proactively and effectively with any request from the competent authorities (regulators, supervisors, judicial, tax, or any other authorities), and these entities can attest to this.
When Alcogal detects adverse information about a company, we proceed as established in our internal policies. We require clients to provide more information so that our compliance department can perform a risk assessment. Subsequently, the Compliance Officer evaluates the case and if deemed appropriate, a report is filed with the competent authority and/or we resign as Resident Agent of the respective company.
In compliance with current laws, a report is made in cases where we suspect that the client is involved in money laundering, terrorist financing or other illicit activities, or when we are unable to secure the client’s full cooperation in terms of requests for additional information.
In more than 35 years of operation, Alcogal has never been reprimanded or fined by any judicial or administrative authority for not resigning as Resident Agents of an entity.
The decision to resign as a resident agent of a company follows, by virtue of the law, a risk-based approach. We resign in cases where we suspect that the client is involved in money laundering, terrorist financing or other illicit activities; where we are unable to secure the client’s full cooperation in terms of requests for additional information; or if we are unable to carry out regular, or enhanced as the case may require, client due diligence with respect to the beneficial owner.
Alcogal’s role within a company is that of any Resident Agent. We are in charge of making the payment of the necessary fees for the company to continue in good standing, we carry out a continuous due diligence process, we receive notifications (when applicable), among other functions established by law. The services we provide in connection with our companies are exclusively of a legal and corporate nature. We do not provide financial services or tax advice in connection with our international corporate services.
The various applicable laws on confidentiality and professional ethics prohibit us from disclosing any information related to the beneficiaries and shareholders of the entities for which we act as Resident Agent or our clients. This type of sensitive information can only be shared at the request of the competent authorities.
PANAMA HAS MODERNIZED ITS REGULATORY FRAMEWORK TO MEET THE NEW GLOBAL CHALLENGES.
In recent years, Panama has made a titanic effort to modernize its regulatory framework to meet the new global challenges in terms of tax transparency, supervision, and collaboration between countries. These regulations and agreements are a clear message of Panama’s commitment.
For more information, contact: