Non Profit supervision in Panama: AML standards

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Non Profit supervision in Panama: AML standards

Non Profit supervision: fighting money laundering

The OECD insisted, in reports on Panama’s financial center, that Panama tighten the Non Profit regulations and oversight. As a result, Executive Decree 62 (2017) regulates the creation and supervision of Non Profit organisations.  We previously dealt with setting up a Non Profit, so here I will outline the provisions regarding Non Profit supervision.

Who supervises?

The Executive Decree establishes a special deparment in the Ministry of Government. At this time,  “Department of OSFL Supervision, Follow Up & Evaluation” is part of the Legal Matters and Applications Department .  We will refer to this department as the OSFL-SFE Department.

OSFL = Organizaciones Sin Fines de Lucro = Non Profit Organizations

What are their powers?

The OSFL-SFE has 2 principal powers and objectives:

  1. Permanant risk analysis of all OSFLs legally recognised by the Ministry of Government
  2. Control mechanisms to minimise risk and follow up on the OSFL, to ensure compliance with all applicable laws

What are they supposed to do?

Consequently, the OSFL-SFE:

  • Maintains risk reports regarding OSFL’s in Panama
  • Requires reports on the funding of Non Profit entities and verify the information provided to them
  • Checks on the funding received, generated or transferred by Non Profits
  • They may report any suspicious activity to the Unidad de Analisis Financiera (the Financial Analysis Unit).

The OSFL-SFE has the following powers:

  1. Require whatever documentation they consider will allow them to supervise, follow up and evaluate OSFLs
  2. Inspect the books, records and documents of the administration, financial management and financing of the Non Profits under their supervision
  3. Request that the legal representative of any Non Profit present documents as needed for these 2 purposes

Additionally, the OSFL-SFE may visit the premises or offices of a Non Profit organization.

What should your Non Profit do?

You must keep accurate accounts, books and records of all donations received, funds raised and donations made from your Non Profit to another. At the end of each year, you report to the Tax Department 2 things:

  • Expenses: this allows the tax department to verify this information against the income tax returns of service providers and cross-check the information
  • Donations received and details of the donors – this is cross-checked against those who are claiming tax deductible donations

Consequently, your Non Profit organisation must keep update records:

  • File any change of Board of Directors at the Public Registry;
  • Update your membership records each year with any changes;
  • If your bylaws are out-dated, then you need to assign a committee to review them and bring them into compliance with new regulations and laws. Once reviewed, present the proposed changes to your General Assembly to modify your Statutes or Bylaws as appropriate. These changes must then be approved by the Ministry of Government, before they can be filed at the Public Registry.

Although it is published in Spanish, the full regulation on Non Profit supervision and organisations can be found in Gazette #28249-A.

For more information and assistance in establishing or managing your Non Profit organization please contact Betsy Moran.