Contributed by: Don WinnerIn relation to a banking transaction between the Municipality of Panama and Banistmo Inc. for $25 million for the purchase of the Hatillo building and other ghost investments, the US Embassy in Panama already had several reports about Juan Carlos Navarro, who at the time was the Mayor of Panama City Juan Carlos Navarro, who today is the PRD's presidential candidate.
On May 31, 2006 William Eaton, who was the US Ambassador to Panama at the time, reported to the State Department of the United States that the comptroller at the time, Dani Kuzniecky identified Mayor Navarro as the most corrupt official in what was the administration of PRD president Martin Torrijos.
In the cable, made public by WikiLeaks, Eaton reported to Washington DC his concerns about the increasing rate of corruption in the Torrijos government.
Kuzniecky said he had identified the two most corrupt institutions of this administration: the first was the office of the Mayor of Panama City, being run by Navarro; and the second most corrupt was the Maritime Authority of Panama, being run by Ruben Arosemena.
Before this report, Eaton had sent an earlier cable in which he wrote of Navarro's intention to buy the Hatillo building for $15 million.
Eaton said Kuzniecky saw no sense in Navarro buying a building that was more than 40 years old when he could by something better.
"Why would anyone want to pay $15 million for an old building, when you can build a new one for less money?" Kuzniecky told Ambassador Eaton, months before Navarro finalized the purchase of the Hatillo building in order to move the headquarters of the Municipality of Panama City there.
Ambassador Eaton's cable, leaked by WikiLeaks, coincided with the financial move made by Navarro in 2006, and as a result today the Municipality of Panama City is still paying off the debt, including interest, of more than $38 million.
Kuzniecky was not the only high-ranking official who called Navarro corrupt, during his ten year tenure as the Mayor of Panama City from 1999 - 2009.
Both President Ricardo Martinelli and Vice President Juan Carlos Varela have also called him corrupt.
In June last year Martinelli said there is no one who is more corrupt than him, referring to Navarro and his tenure as Mayor.
And this year Varela said Navarro is a clear example of the corruption that Panamanians reject.
"We will not make an alliance with people who are looking to do business while in power in order to continue to divert the funds that belong to the Panamanian people," Varela said.
Navarro tried to justify that banking movement made during his tenure as mayor.
"With this loan the projects were developed to perfection. Everything was done exactly as it was, everything was properly certified by the Comptroller," said Navarro to the Panama America newspaper.
He said the Hatillo building turned out to be "an extraordinary investment " for the Municipality and for Panama, because now it is worth four to five times more than what was paid.
"Thank God we did it, because if we had not, the Municipality would have remained in the dilapidated garage where it was when I took over as Mayor. All of the professionals, engineers, and developers agree that was the best investment ever made by the Municipality of Panama, probably in its history, " Navarro said.
He also said he did the right thing with the building that became the headquarters of the Dimaud.
However, there is no infrastructure at the site, and the documents reveal that so far, the Cleanliness Authority, which has replaced the old Dimaud, has failed to recuperate the funding that Navarro transferred at the time in the Municipality of Panama.
The Cleaning Authority registers it as an old account that's difficult to recover.
Harmodios Montaner, the former director of the Dimaud, said most of the $9 million dollar loan they inherited from the Navarro administration went to pay off suppliers, of which there were no details.
In 2006, Navarro, overriding the rules the and warnings issued by the Comptroller General of the Republic, Dani Kuzniecky, indebted the Municipality of Panama City with two private loans payable in 10 years to buy the old building, and to fund other investments that were never completed.
Almost all of the money went into petty cash which the Navarro administration used during his term in office at the head of the Municipality of Panama City.
In the middle of all this, there were transfers of funds and the advance payment of contracts, although the comptroller Kuzniecky had spoken out against these movements.
The old Municipal Directorate of Urban and Household Cleanliness (Dimaud) took out a loan for 9 million dollars which was used for the purchase of new garbage trucks, and for the construction of a new headquarters building in the area of Cerro Patacˇn for 1.2 million dollars, which was never executed. This was the most affected entity.
Having the funds from the loan, Navarro began to pay in advance for contracts handed out to several contractors, including the consortium TermotÚcnica Proinpetrol.
On August 25, 2006, the comptroller Kuzniecky stopped Navarro and prevented him from paying advances to the company because it was supposed to be a turnkey contract, in which the contractor had to submit one account at the end of the project once all work was complete.
On October 25, 2006, Kuzniecky again called attention to Navarro, because he continued to fund the company, contrary to what was stipulated in the contract.
Mayor Navarro simply ignored the calls being made by the comptroller, a situation that was reflected in the management of other projects funded with money from these two loans.
Navarro asked the Comptroller General's office to open an official checking account in the Banco Nacional of Panama, to be used exclusively for the management of operations for the monthly payments to the contractors who were linked to the projects that were financed by the loans made by Banistmo Inc.
The comptroller Kuzniecky refused this request because he said it violated the second clause of the contract with the bank.
So Navarro simply waited until Francisco Rodriguez took over as the new Comptroller, in order to obtain the endorsement from the Comptroller for the checking account at the bank, and in that way he was able to channel the funds from the bank credit loan as he saw fit. (Panama America)
Editor's Comment: Remember, this newspaper (Panama America) is owned and operated by Ricardo Martinelli. Their job is to publish "news" articles that make Martinelli and Arias look good, and which make guys like Navarro and the PRD look bad. This article is clearly designed to revive and old scandal from 2006 and to paint Navarro as a corrupt politician. They want to try to remind the Panamanian voters of exactly how corrupt Navarro was when he was the Mayor of Panama City. The fact of the matter is that all Panamanian politicians, every one of them, from every political party - are corrupt. There are no exceptions. The political class wants to be in power because that's where the money is. No administration in the history of the country has let more government contracts than Ricardo Martinelli - which means he's stolen more public funds than anyone else. The CD is no better than the PRD or the Paname˝istas, they are all equally corrupt. Martinelli is just better at it, that's all. So anyway, take this "corruption" chatter with a grain of salt, and consider the source.