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Inspiring Women In Law - An interview with Ana Clement: How to help companies retain talent and restructure successfully

Latin Counsel spoke with Ana Clement, Senior Manager and Practice Leader of EY Law in Panama, about her most relevant projects in corporate law, the potential of labor mobility in Panama and the region, and advice for women who want to grow in the legal sector.

Marina Vanni,  April 24, 2024

Latin Counsel: How have you applied your experience in corporate law to lead the Panama practice at EY Law?

Ana Clement: Before joining EY Law Panama 5 years ago, I worked in a multinational company with regional presence, which allowed me a broader view of the regulations of Central American countries and a better understanding of the risks intrinsic to the operation. This has been of great value in my participation in multiple corporate restructuring projects, including due diligence processes and drafting of share and asset purchase agreements for complex transnational M&A transactions, as well as accompaniment in the negotiation processes, as an enabling lawyer of the business, always safeguarding the best interest of our client in compliance with the applicable rules.

LC: What are some of the most emblematic projects and deals you have worked on at EY Law?

AC: I actively participated in the due diligence process of the sale of the assets and brands of Ron Diplomático acquired by Brown Forman Corporation for a value of USD725 million, including the review of the Stock and Asset Purchase Agreement in matters related to local entities transferred and the coordination of EY teams from different jurisdictions around the world. In addition, I had the opportunity to lead the technical advisory project to the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) on issues related to the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, achieving the exit from the FATF gray list in October 2023 and from the list of high-risk countries due to strategic deficiencies of the European Union in March 2024.

LC: What actions will you take as head of People Advisory Services (PAS) in Panama, Central America and Dominican Republic for Mobility issues in EY Law?

AC: The PAS practice in EY Central America, Panama and the DR focuses mainly on advisory services to senior executives of transnational companies on the implications of tax obligations in the country of their assignment and the analysis of compensation schemes and salary restructuring in order to optimize hiring costs and tax impacts, as well as the retention of talent in the companies we advise. These issues are complementary to our labor and immigration legal services, so I aspire to achieve synergies between both teams and provide comprehensive services to clients in both sub-lines.

LC: In terms of labor mobility, what new opportunities do you detect in the region?

AC: Panama, as a country favored by its strategic geographic position and its tertiary economy, offers attractive migratory opportunities for investors and executives of transnational companies, highlighting both the Permanent Residence as a Qualified Investor that, through an expeditious procedure at a single window, grants the investor a permanent resident card from the National Immigration Service and one from the Electoral Tribunal, The Permanent Personnel Visa for Headquarters of Multinational Companies (SEM) or the Permanent Personnel Dependent Visa for Headquarters of Multinational Companies (EMMA), which allows the hiring of foreign personnel over the quotas established by the Labor Code, provided that the company is under the Special Regime. Since the pandemic and the telework modality, it is also remarkable the creation within the non-resident migratory category, of the short stay visa as a remote worker, which has been very attractive.

LC: What strategies did you implement to ensure compliance with the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) Action Plan in Panama and thus achieve the exit from the FATF gray list in 2023?

AC: Panama’s exit from the FATF gray list is the result of a remarkable joint effort of the public and private sector in the adoption of a preventive regime aligned with international standards and, more importantly, its effective implementation. Our technical advice ranged from the drafting of the necessary regulations for the creation of the single registry of beneficial owners (RUBF) and the adaptation of Law 23 of 2015 and its regulations to the updates of the 40 FATF Recommendations to the strategic coordination work together with the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) for the continuous monitoring of compliance with the Action Plan, in close collaboration with the different competent authorities participating in the FATF "Face to Face" meetings.

LC: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement in your career so far and how do you think it has prepared you to face future challenges?

AC: Beyond the flagship projects I have had the opportunity to work on since my arrival at EY, I believe my greatest achievement has been the initial organization of EY Law Panama, including the hiring of a talented team of Panamanian lawyers with solid knowledge in corporate, commercial, competition, labor and immigration law that has allowed us to offer legal services to EY’s clients with the confidence and quality of deliverables that characterizes the firm, meeting 100% of the organization’s key performance indicators.

LC: What advice would you give to female professionals looking to establish themselves in the legal field?

AC: I strongly believe in equal opportunities and I am proud to work in a firm that promotes it! My best advice to professional women would be to keep striving to learn, contribute, build and lead, in the belief that our capabilities far exceed the limitations that were once imposed on us. Let’s keep going!


Interview: Marina Vanni

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