According to preliminary investigations, it is a criminal network formed by lawyers and those are supposed to be responsible for safekeeping the properties that have been stolen, which has been operating for several years .
Criminal investigators have not ruled out the possibly complicity of government employees of the Public Registry in the province.
Some of the illegal operations include; the overpricing of the land acquired by foreigners, more than one title being issued on the same parcel of land, obtaining loans from local financial institutions by using the false titles and other forged documents, the theft of the land and livestock from the rightful owners, and falsifying documents to transfer land in order to strip it away from the rightful owners.
Joaquín Yves Brant, a retired American, bought a farm in 2008 from the Panamanian Abel Obando Serrano, located in San Lorenzo, Chiriqui.
The land was not titled, so he hired the lawyer Cley Estenio González Caballero to conduct this legal proceeding (obtain title for the land).
In this way, González Caballero obtained plans (survey) for the 38 hectares of land, and he later titled the land in the name of Obando Serrano, who sold the property to Brant.
A year later Brant learned that the parcel of land he had acquired had been mortgaged in favor of the Universal Bank, SA.
When he started investigating, he found that the same number on the plan that had been approved, was used to obtain another title for Rodolfo Carlos Figueroa, but with a different registration number but located within the boundaries of the same land he had acquired from Obando.
Meanwhile, Figueroa sold the "cloned" farm to Adalberto Polanco Rodriguez, who then later transferred it to the company González y Polanco, S.A., owned by González Caballero, the same lawyer who had advised Brant.
Finally, the "cloned" farm was mortgaged to the Universal Bank in exchange for a loan to Polanco Rodriguez for $240,000 according to the complaint.
This same modus operandi was followed with another farm located in Chiriqui, the property of the company Dos Ríos de Santa Rosa, S.A., also represented by Brant.
In this case the same plan number was used to "make" a new estate in the Public Register in the name of Rodolfo Figueroa, on the same grounds.
Then the fake farm was passed to Polanco Rodriguez, who then transferred it to the company González y Polanco, S.A., which was then used to obtain a mortgage loan for $125,000.
This property is currently being repossessed (by the bank).
Len Petry is another foreigner who was also a victim of this scam.
According to the investigations he also hired the lawyer González Caballero to create a company called Brynanna, S.A. which he used to acquire three farms in Boquete in 2011.
The subscribers of the company Brynanna SA turned out to be González Caballero himself, Daniel Polanco, and Rodolfo Figueroa.
The three subscribers then obtained mortgages of the lands without Petry's approval, according to the complaint.
Another case was that of British retiree Christopher Field, who demanded a exhibitoria diligence in April this year in the offices of the lawyer Gonzalez Caballero by the Fifth Circuit Court of David, in order to try to recover the shares of a shares of a number of companies the accused lawyer had created.
When the judicial diligence was performed, it was confirmed that Gonzalez Caballero and Daniel Polanco had modified the Boards of the companies in June 2012, removing themselves from them.
According to the investigations, Field transferred $835,573 to Gonzalez Caballero between 2010 and 2012 in order to acquire the shares.
Later it was confirmed that one of the farms he purchased in June of 2011 was transferred, through these companies, on 5 December 2012, to Itza Dania Muñoz, who in turn mortgaged the property seven days later to a credit corporation for a loan worth "thousands of dollars." The foreigner lost the properties.
Another foreign company, Bella Vista Uno, SA, also formed by González Caballero, filed a complaint this year over the loss of 200 head of livestock acquired as collateral for a loan of $70,000 - a herd that was under the supervision of Daniel Polanco Rodriguez.
The case files for these complaints are sitting in the offices of the Fourth Criminal Prosecutor of Chiriquí, but so far no formal charges have yet been filed.
Oliver Quiel Miranda, the lawyer representing Cley Gonzalez, said the allegations against his client are unfounded and that no such crimes exist.
An attempt was made to locate Cley González but he did not answer calls made to his office in David, Chiriquí. (Prensa)
Editor's Comment: Panama really (really) has to get a handle on these land scams. Foreigners are frequently targeted, because they come to Panama with bags of money to buy land and invest - and then the crooked lawyers steal it all. The worst part is when they then use the money they stole to PAY THE BRIBES necessary to keep themselves from being prosecuted. And why have no charges been filed in this case? Because this guilty stinking lawyer has about a million dollars to throw around within the prosecutor's office, judges chambers, and anyone else he needs to buy. These cocksuckers should be hung, shot, set on fire, then hung again. And for the record - there is no judicial security in Panama. None. If you're a foreigner prepared for the very strong possibility of getting fucked over. The more money you have, the greater the odds.