Chase Manhattan was the first to announce its departure from the country in 2000 and since then international banks including UBS, ABN Amro and Société Générale have all left. The reason given for the pullout is not only because of the recent financial crisis but also the fact that Panama has had problems fulfilling the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) regulations on the exchange of fiscal information and transparency.

“As long as OECD’s demands aren’t met, this issue will keep affecting the country,” warned Gustavo Villa, the former director of economics for the Superintendent of Panamanian Banks.

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Though the banking sector in the country has run into problems, according to fDi Markets 2009 has seen more companies select Panama as the location for their Latin American headquarters than in the previous two years.