US Has "Substantial and Convincing" Evidence in Spadafora Case
Wednesday, December 21 2005 @ 07:41 pm EST
Contributed by: Don Winner
Criminal Cases Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaties: Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaties (MLATs) are relatively recent development. They seek to improve the effectiveness of judicial assistance and to regularize and facilitate its procedures. Each country designates a central authority, generally the two Justice Departments, for direct communication. The treaties include the power to summon witnesses, to compel the production of documents and other real evidence, to issue search warrants, and to serve process. Generally, the remedies offered by the treaties are only available to the prosecutors. The defense must usually proceed with the methods of obtaining evidence in criminal matters under the laws of the host country which usually involve letters rogatory. See "Questions" below.
MLAT Treaties in Force:
I. The United States has nineteen Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT) currently in force: Argentina, Bahamas, Canada, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Panama, Philippines, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom (Cayman Islands), United Kingdom, Uruguay.
(MLAT in use)
To cite an example of how an MLAT can benefit the U.S. justice system, the Committee notes the response by the State Department to Chairman Helm's question for the record regarding how the U.S. has made use of the MLAT with Panama after its 1995 ratification:
One recent case from the Southern District of Texas serves as an example of the usefulness of the treaty in the prosecution of financial crimes. In that case, the Assistant U.S. Attorney urgently needed bank records from Panama to verify the dates and amounts of certain money transfers of the alleged fraud proceeds in order to corroborate the testimony of a principal witness. The U.S. requested the records only a short time before they were needed in the trial, and we were pleased that Panamanian authorities produced the records promptly. The records were described by the prosecutor as ``the crowning blow'' to arguments raised by the defense and indispensable to the Government's ultimate success in the trial.
Hey! Look what I found! One of the web pages selling Panama as a tax-haven is saying Panama does not have an MLAT with anyone...
"Panama uses the most solid banking and corporate book secrecy laws in the world. These secrecy laws are engraved in its constitution. With Britain's proposed regulation for removal of bank and corporate book secrecy in Britain's offshore territories, it is clear that Panama remains the most secure offshore financial center - where privacy and confidentiality is not only respected, but also vigorously protected by constitutional law. Panama is a sovereign nation, that is, not governed or controlled by any other country in the world. Panama does not have any MLAT's (Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties) with any other country. Panama is a genuine international trade and banking center that is well known and respected throughout the world."
This came from: http://www.alcoinc.com/Web/Offshore%20Companies/Panama.htm
Whoops! Looks like there's more than one, all with the same thing...
"Panama IBC law uses what we consider to be some of the most solid banking and corporate book secrecy laws in the world. These secrecy laws are engraved in its constitution. With Britain's proposed regulation for removal of bank and corporate book secrecy in Britain's offshore territories, it is clear that Panama remains the most secure offshore financial center - where privacy and confidentiality is not only respected, but also vigorously protected by constitutional law. Panama is a sovereign nation, that is, not governed or controlled by any other country in the world. Panama does not have any MLAT's (Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties) with any other country. Panama is a genuine international trade and banking center that is well known and respected throughout the world."
This came from http://www.offshorecorporation.com/panama-ibc/ and the wording was almost identical to the other one.
Now, I see that they are all over the place. Everyone is saying that Panama does not have an MLAT with any other country. Is that correct?
Ok, so it looks like I just need to get better educated with regards to this MLAT thing...
"O.E.C.D. LATEST BLACKLIST DUE
PARIS. The busy OECD bureaucrats this week plan to issue their latest offshore haven blacklist of those who refuse to surrender their financial privacy; hold outs include Andorra, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Nauru, Panama, Samoa and Vanuatu.
Chances are that the US is trying to get Panama to show Panama that if they would "play ball" with the MLAT, then they would get the goods on Spadafora.
Anyway... I'll look more into the MLAT thing and figure it out.
EU alega que existen evidencias
Lina Vega Abad
Alegando la existencia de pruebas "sustanciales y convincentes", la Embajada de Estados Unidos (EU) respondió a la Cancillería panameña sobre las causas que llevaron a la revocatoria de la visa del magistrado de la Corte Suprema Winston Spadafora.
La nota 1751, con fecha del 13 de diciembre –pero recibida en el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores el 19 del mismo mes–, explica que la medida fue tomada de conformidad con la Ley de Inmigración y Nacionalidad, enmendada por la Ley Patriota de 2001, que establece que "no se les permitirá a funcionarios corruptos visitar EU".
Igualmente se afirma que "la embajada desea asegurarle al ministro de Relaciones Exteriores que el proceso (...) [contra Spadafora] requiere la decisión del oficial con el tercer rango más alto del Departamento de Estado...".
Respecto a los detalles de la decisión, la nota agrega que "el magistrado Spadafora, o cualquier otra persona interesada, puede utilizar la Ley de Libertad de Información de Estados Unidos y solicitar acceso a más información".
La nota termina citando la existencia del Tratado de Asistencia Legal Mutua de 1992, como fórmula de intercambio de información sensible, así como para "el apoyo al procesamiento de individuos que cometen actos de corrupción y otros