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Thursday, September 19 2019 @ 08:50 am EDT

Perez Balladares Tries To Explain Away His Links To Lucky Games

Corruption By SANTIAGO FASCETTO for La Prensa - Former Panamanian President Ernesto Perez Balladares sent an email to his friends with his version of an explanation of the connections that tie him to the business Lucky Games SA. The email was sent by Perez Balladares and has been circulating since last Monday, and was then uploaded to a website. In the email Perez Balladares acknowledged that during his administration (1994-1999) his friend Roosevelt Lito Thayer and his son in law Enrique Pretelt were given a license to operate slot machine rooms. "To say these people are close to me is not a lie, it is a lie to insinuate I did them a special favor on the margins of the law," he said. The former president Perez Balladares says he was never a shareholder of Lucky Games SA, despite the fact that this company constantly deposited sums of money into an account held by one of his companies, and also diverted funds to the companies that own his yacht and private airplane. Furthermore, the email referred to the advisability of installing gambling rooms in popular neighborhoods: "Is the social vice of gambling the same or worse than the sale of alcoholic beverages or the sale of lottery tickets in poor or middle class neighborhoods? Is it a function of the government to prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages in the supermarkets of these areas," he asks? (See Comments)

Editor's Comment: Santiago Fascetto is probably the best investigative journalist in the Republic of Panama right now. His reporting cracked open the case of the death of Andrés García in 1970 at the hands of then Minister of Government and Justice Daniel Delgado Diamante, who was a second lieutenant in the Panamanian Defense Forces at the time. While Delgado Diamante might eventually be cleared in that case, the revelations were enough of a scandal to force him to resign. Santiago Fascetto also spearheaded La Prensa's investigations into allegations made by David Murcia that he donated $6 million dollars in laundered drug money to the political campaigns of PRD candidates Bobby Velasquez and Balbina Herrera. His reporting, and the doubts cast on the veracity of subsequent statements made by both of those candidates, played no small role in their eventual electoral defeats. Now, Santiago Fascetto has turned his attention towards former Panamanian president Ernesto "El Toro" Perez Balladares, and he's uncovered a string of money leading back to "El Toro" related to the privitazation of some gambling facilities - specifically nine slot machine rooms - and apparently he's been getting paid ever since. La Prensa has published as series of articles exposing this apparent corruption, and now Perez Balladares writes this email to "explain" his actions. You see, Perez Balladares fancies himself as the natural person to retake the reins of the PRD following their electoral defeat on 3 May 2009, and this kind of reporting is the worst kind of sand in the gears of this future political aspirations. Anyway, this is the kind of story that's going to unfold fully over the course of months or years, so stay tuned for more.

Pérez Balladares da explicaciones de sus vínculos con Lucky Games

Por medio de un correo electrónico que envió a sus amistades, y que fue ‘colgado’ en una página en internet, el ex mandatario da su versión de la polémica.

SANTIAGO FASCETTO UNIDAD DE INVESTIGACIÓN sfascetto@prensa.com

El ex presidente Ernesto Pérez Balladares envió a sus amistades un correo electrónico con su versión de los vínculos que lo unen con la empresa de juego Lucky Games S.A. El e-mail que envió el ex jefe de Estado, y que circula desde el lunes pasado, fue subido a una página en la internet.

En la misiva, Pérez Balladares reconoce que su administración (1994-1999) otorgó a su amigo Roosevelt Lito Thayer y a su yerno Enrique Pretelt una licencia para operar salas de máquinas tragamonedas. “El decir que esas personas son allegadas no es mentira, la mentira es insinuar que se les hizo un favor especial al margen de la ley”, aclara.

El ex presidente asegura que nunca fue accionista de Lucky Games S.A., a pesar de que esa empresa giró constantes sumas de dinero a una sociedad suya y, además, desvió fondos a las sociedades dueñas de su yate y su avión. Por otro lado, en el correo electrónico se refirió a la conveniencia de instalar salas de juego en barrios populares: “Es igual o peor el vicio social de las bebidas alcohólicas e igual la venta de lotería o chance en las áreas pobres o de capas medias. ¿Es función del gobierno prohibir la venta de bebidas alcohólicas en los supermercados de esas áreas?”, se pregunta.

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