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Panama financial scandal

In 1878, France was granted a concession to build the Panama Canal. The work began in 1881 and ran into a number of difficulties including an outbreak of yellow fever, which caused many deaths on the site. As capital was in short supply the French people had to be appealed to for investment. Despite extremely pessimistic engineers' reports as to the successful completion of the project, funds were secured through a system of corruption targeting parliamentarians and journalists. However, in 1889 the Compagnie universelle du canal interocéanique de Panama went bankrupt, and three years later the scandal emerged in the press.

Having bought the concession from France, the United States finally finished the Panama Canal in 1914. Today it represents a strategic crossing point between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

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