Panama's government said Tuesday it could retaliate if France makes good on its decision to put the Central American nation back on a "tax haven" list following the "Panama Papers" revelations.
"In Panama, there is a law that sets out retaliation measures against countries that include Panama in 'gray lists'," Alvaro Aleman, the minister for the presidency, equivalent to the post of prime minister, told a news conference.
Aleman said that, as a result, "the government is going to have to analyze the situation and is inclined to take a series of steps that naturally could go towards adopting means of retaliation."
The government of Panama and the country's vital financial services sector are panicking in the wake of the massive data leak from one of the country's law firms, Mossack Fonseca. The revelations show how some of the world's wealthy set up offshore companies for their assets to hide them from scrutiny.
They fear the revelations being published in media around the world could scupper years of work to shed Panama's past reputation as a haven for money-launderers and tax cheats.
In February this year, the country managed to get off an international "gray list" of tax havens by passing some reforms curbing somewhat the anonymity of offshore companies.
But after the so-called Panama Papers revelations, France's finance minister, Michel Sapin, on Tuesday told the French parliament that "France has decided to put Panama back on the list of uncooperative countries."
France removed Panama from the list of Uncooperative States and Territories (ETNC) in 2012 after the two countries reached a bilateral accord on fighting tax evasion.