Ecuadorian presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso has long avoided discussions relating to any investment he may hold outside of Ecuador. But the candidate came clean after Argentine newspaper Pagina12 reveal irregularities surrounding the establishment of the Banisi bank in Panama. “My family and I have a small bank in Panama,” he admitted in a conference.
Lasso acknowledged that his family owned the bank and insists that the operations are legal and within the rules of the Superintendency of Banks. He justified his funds outside the country, stressing that such investment is in Panama because of the “Correista laws.”
Although the presidential hopeful assured that Banisi is not “a paper bank, it is not an offshore bank”, the Pagina12 reported that Banisi is a paper bank that is used by the presidential candidate to channel funds offshore through 49 companies in Panama, the Cayman Islands and Delaware in the U.S. These investments, according to the Argentine newspaper, are responsible for an exponential increase in the Lasso family's wealth by 3000%, between 1999 and 2000. The newspaper also alleged that Lasso relinquished his position as majority shareholder of Banisi in a bid to circumvent Ecuadorian “tax havens” laws.
President Rafael Correa stated over a week ago that the Internal Revenue Service (SRI) is investigating possible illegal activities involving Lasso-owned companies offshore. According to the investigation, if it is proven that Lasso sold to himself (as revealed last year in the Panama Papers leak) he could be charged with banking embezzlement and be imprisoned.