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Monday, September 01 2014 @ 09:39 AM EDT

Balbina Herrera - In Front Of A $716,000 Loss Of State Funds

CorruptionThe possible loss of state funds amounts to about $716,869 as part of an investigation that should now be carried out by the Attorney General, Jose Ayu Prado, in which the accused are the former Minister of Housing Balbina Herrera Arauz and the current ambassador to Uruguay, Digna Donado. This week, the criminal chamber of the Supreme Court issued an edict that took cognizance of the case against Herrera and Donado. The Court also commissioned the Attorney General Ayu Prado to continue the investigation of a $10 million dollar program named "Pilot Project for the Revitalization and Urban Poverty Alleviation of Colon," which began to take shape in 2006, but which was never concluded.

The Inter American Development Bank even approved $8.5 million dollars to finance the project that was being managed by the then Housing Minister Balbina Herrera. Herrera appointed the Foundation for Investment and Development of Colon as the administrator of the program, whose president is Donado. The program failed in its first project, leaving losses to the state.

On March 28, 2007, FIDEC signed a contract with the contractor International Urban Investment SA for the revitalization of building 2028 in Colon for an amount of $789,553 dollars. Following the contract, the FIDEC paid the company an advance of $236,866 dollars representing 30% of the contract, but the order to proceed was never issued.

Both Donado and Herrera knew the company could not start work because the families living in the building had not yet been evicted, as explained in the original complaint which was filed in 2009 by the then-corruption czar Fernando Nuñez Fabrega. According to the documentation attached to the complaint, the MIVI was responsible for having ordered the FIDEC and the project management to proceed with the transfer of beneficiaries or residents of building 2028 to temporary solutions, owned by the Government. "But as can be observed, the evictions of building 2028 was not done either before or after the order to proceed, which was not given to the contractor, which is why the work was not done," said the report verbatim from the Council of Transparency against Corruption.

On April 7, 2009, the FIDEC annulled or declared the contract with the company Inversiones Urbanas Internacional SA administratively resolved, because the work of revitalizing the building never happened, although the 30% advance was paid, plus other expenses that are now being claimed by the contractor, which increases the potential injury to the state to more than $700,000 dollars. The contractor filed a claim against the State for more than $480,000 for alleged administrative expenses incurred in the project for which they were hired.

According to the complaint, Herrera had a responsibility to manage and make decisions of the project "Urban Revitalization and Alleviation of Poverty in Colon," which had as main objective seek to strengthen the local economy, employment and contribute to the solution to the housing problem. In the end it did not help solve the problem in Colon, and causes the loss of a considerable sum of money from the state. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The timing is about right. The current administration of the CD sees Balbina Herrera as a potential presidential candidate for the Prd in the 2014 elections, so therefore she's a target. They've been sitting on this case for a couple of years, and now it's about time for them to haul it back out so it can start making headlines again. I'm sure they would love to hit her with a conviction of some kind that would prevent her from running or holding office.

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