Law 54 on protecting foreign investment in Panama:
Real Estate Laws Law 54 (Of July 22,1998)
Whereby provisions for the Legal Stability of Investments are adopted.
THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY DECREES.
Chapter I - Investment Protection
Article 1. The State promotes and protects investments within the country, in all areas of economic activity established in the Law, and in any enterprise or contractual form in accordance with national legislation. For the purpose of this Law, an investment is the disposition of capital, in cash or credit facilities, capital goods or transfers of assets designated to the effective production of goods and services, in accordance with activities establishes in article 5 of this Law.
Article 2. Foreign investors and the enterprises in which they participate, have the same rights and duties as national investors and enterprises, with no other limitation than those established in the Political Constitution and the law, including those that refer to the freedom of trade and industry, and export and import.
Furthermore, the freedom to dispose of the profits obtained in their investments, the freedom to repatriate their capital, dividends, interest and profits produced by their investments and the freedom to commercialize their production is guaranteed hereby to said investors.
Article 3. Property rights for investors have no limitations other than those established by the Political Constitution and the law.
Article 4. Copyrights and trademark rights of foreign investors are subject to the same regulations as established for national investors.
Chapter II - Application Scope
Article 5. The present legal stability regulation is granted to individuals or private entities, foreign of domestic, who carry out investments within the national territory to develop the following activities. Tourism, industrial, agricultural, exports, agro forestry, mining, export processing zones, commercial and petroleum free zones, telecommunications, constructions, port and railroad development, and any all activities approved by the President's Cabinet, previously recommended by the Ministry of Commerce and Industries.
Article 6. The Ministry of commerce and Industries is the authority in charge of enforcing this Law and the regulations that develop it.
Article 7. Except for information protected by law, government entities and public offices have to provide the information and assistance required by the Ministry of Commerce and Industries to enforce this Law.
Article 8. To receive the benefits of this Law, the investor must develop the investment in accordance with the investment plan presented for such purposes, must be duly registered in the entity in charge of promoting and supervising such investments, if it is the case, and must comply the other duties established in article 16 of this Law.
Said entity, on sight of the petition of party in interest, shall certify the existence of the investment and shall send copy of it to the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, entity that shall decide to file or deny the file of the investment in the Registry, through a motivated opinion, within a term of six months.
Foreign and domestic investors who, previous to the promulgation of this Law, have been engaged in investments in accordance with the requirements as prescribed by article 16 and who are interested to receive the benefits of this Law, shall have a term of six months to do so, after the promulgation of this Law.
The legal and tax stability provisions in effect at the moment of their inscription in the registry provided for in this article shall be guaranteed to these investors, in the event that they were duly registered in the entity responsible for promoting and supervising the respective type of investment.
For the purposes of the previous paragraph, the entity responsible for promoting or supervising the activity, duly required by the interested party, must send to the National Board of Enterprise Development of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, identified with the acronym "DINADE", copy of the inscription, in order that the Board may file or deny the file of said investment in the Registry.
In the case of activities which investment does not require to be registered in an entity in charge of promoting and supervising it, the investor request from DINADE the authorization for the corresponding inscription, which may be denied or accepted by the Board, in order to obtain the benefits of this Law.All inscription requests must follow the guidelines established in this article.
Article 9. The following are not allowed to obtain the benefits of this Law.
1. Individuals or juridical entities who have been or might be convicted by domestic or foreign authority or court for tax or customs crime, those with outstanding, clear and due fiscal debts, or when a final judicial or administrative decision has been passed declaring the firm's failure to comply with customs, tax or social security statues.
2. Individuals who have been convicted or might be convicted by a foreign or domestic court for any of the crimes established in articles 255,257,258,260,262,263a,263b,263c,263ch,263e and 263g of the Criminal Code, which refer to crimes related to drugs, money laundering or legitimization, entities in which said individuals act as directors, officers or representatives. Those who have been convicted for crimes described in articles 190,197,265 and 267 of the Criminal Code, respectively, which are related to fraud, misappropriation, and forgery of public and private document.
For questions or clarification on this information please contact an attorney.