What are the changes made in the bookkeeping registers of Panamanian offshore companies?

When law 254 of 2021 come into force, it introduced several changes in the documentation offshore companies registered in Panama have to show

What are the changes made in the bookkeeping registers of Panamanian offshore companies?

The modifications affect both the ultimate beneficiaries of the companies, and the administrators and resident agents. This Law was emanated in compliance with the norms of the OECD and other international organisms. It’s implementation has created unrest among Panamanian lawyers.

The lawyer Giovanni Caporaso Gottlieb of Caporaso & Partners feels that the Law makes the Resident Agents responsible for affairs that aren’t their business, so he invites his clients to keep their bookkeeping registers outside of Panama.

Fundamental changes for legal persons in Panama

The new Law obligates Panamanian offshore companies to make changes in their bookkeeping registers. Each business must prepare and keep their own bookkeeping registers. According to the legislation, the bookkeeping registers are those data that show the commercial operations of legal people, their assets, liabilities, and patrimony. These data make it possible to establish their financial status and to identify the offshore company’s situation.

Further, each legal person will have to keep a series of backup documentation. Among these are contracts, invoices or receipts that show the transactions executed by this legal person.

Each Panamanian offshore company will have to present these bookkeeping registers to their resident agent, before April 30. In the case of non-compliance with this demand, the resident agent has the obligation, by law, to notify the Panamanian authorities about the non-compliance to this step.

The fines for the offshore companies begin at 5,000 dollars and can exceed one million American dollars. The authorities can also forcefully close down this legal person.

Among the yearly data that offshore companies must deliver, in writing, to the resident agents are name and surnames, as well as contact data for the person who does the bookkeeping register for this offshore company.

It’s important to notify the Resident Agents by whom and where the bookkeeping registers are kept

The resident agent must guard the bookkeeping registers and the backup documentation for a period of no less than five years.

In the case where the legal person decides to keep the bookkeeping registers elsewhere, in any form, he will have to send the name of the person keeping these documents in custody to the resident agent, as well as the person’s physical address.

Another important change is that the bookkeeping registers of each offshore company registered in Panama will not all be the same. Everything depends on the type of activity that the company conducts.

For example, the holdings or foundations that have passive assets, like a bank account, real estate, or stocks that don’t conduct commercial or service activities, will have to fill out a specific report. The value of these assets and the income obtained by said assets in this bookkeeping register.

Meanwhile, n the case of legal persons who conduct commercial activities or services, they will have to elaborate and keep their general balance, the state of the results, as well as the state of changes in their patrimony. Another document with the cash flow is added to this.

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