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Panama

A word which, in 1892, became synonymous with government corruptions. M. de Lesseps undertook to cut a sea passage through the Isthmus of Panama, and in order to raise money from the general public, bribed French senators, deputies, and editors of journals to an enormous extent. An investigation was made into the matter in 1892, and the results were most damaging. In the beginning of 1893 Germany was charged with a similar misappropriation of money connected with the Guelph Fund, in which Prince Ludwig of Bavaria was involved.

“On the other side of the Vosges people will exult that Germany has also her Panama.” —Reuter's Telegram, Berlin, January 2nd, 1893.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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