ComplianceMay 28, 2020

Panama introduces Private Register of Beneficial Owners: Law No. 129

Panama – Resident agents of Panamanian entities are now required to file certain information on the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) of the entity at the local Superintendence of Non-Financial Institutions.

Approved in March 2020, Law No. 129 provides the legal framework for the establishment and regulation of a beneficial owner register in the country and will apply to all entities incorporated and registered in Panama which includes companies, foundations, SRLs, and foreign entities registered at the Panama Public Registry.

The bill defines a UBO as: “A natural person, who directly or indirectly owns, controls, and/or has a significant influence over the account relationship, contractual relationship and/or the business; or the natural person benefitting from a transaction or who ultimately controls the legal entity’s decisions”.

An individual may have ‘significant control or influence’ of an entity when:

  • Directly or indirectly owns or controls 25% or more of the shares or voting rights, except if the shares are listed on a recognized stock exchange.
  • The partner or partners who control a partnership
  • The trustee, settlor, beneficiary, protector or any other person who controls a trust
  • In the case of a legal entity that is in the process of liquidation, is bankrupt or is in administrative receivership, the natural person who is appointed as liquidator or administrative receiver
  • In the case of a shareholder in a corporate entity who would otherwise be the UBO but is deceased, the natural person acting as executor or personal representative of the deceased’s estate.

The register will not be available to the public and will only be accessible to resident agents, registered legal entities (such as trust companies and banks), and two designated officers of the Superintendence that meet the required security and technical safeguards.

For entities formed as of March 20, 2020, the required UBO information must be provided to the Superintendence within 30 business days of their formation. Entities in existence before the law’s effective date will have six months from the above date to provide the necessary information. Moreover, any changes to an entity’s UBO information is required to be reported within 30 business days of its occurrence.