PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - The number of new companies incorporated in Panama is on track to drop around 20 percent this year following the massive leak of offshore financial data known as the Panama Papers, the government said on Thursday.

Finance Minister Dulcidio De La Guardia told an investment forum that new openings of companies in Panama had been falling by about 7.5 percent per year since 2008, before accelerating this year after the Panama Papers scandal.

"If the current trend continues, the portfolio of companies incorporated in Panama is going to drop by about 20 percent this year," De La Guardia said.

Details of the Panama Papers were published in early April, embarrassing a clutch of global business and political leaders and sparking criticism of Panama for its lack of transparency.


De La Guardia said the decline in company openings after 2008 was due to higher transparency requirements by the isthmus nation. The data leak scandal had not affected the Panamanian economy nor its credit rating, the minister added.

The scandal prompted a slew of investigations into suspected tax dodgers, putting the spotlight on global tax havens.

(Reporting by Elida Moreno; Editing by Michael Perry)

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