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Tuesday, July 25 2017 @ 06:33 PM EDT

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The New And More Powerful ANATI Could Sell Anything They Want

CorruptionThe National Authority of Land Management (Anati) would become a kind of developer that would "officially" sell vacant lands at the request of third parties, as well as coastal and island areas on which there is no legitimate possessory right. The scheme is proposed in the amendments to the law on land titling being made by Franklin Oduber Burillo, the ANATI Administrator. In an interview yesterday with La Prensa, Oduber acknowledged he is working on a draft bill that will be discussed by the National Land Council on Wednesday morning, and once it has been approved at that level, it will be sent to the Cabinet for future presentation in the National Assembly. According to the official, with the inclusion of "official sales," one should not think the ANATI will automatically sell the properties, because it does not have the structure to do so. But it would be a feasible option to adopt the reforms. Also, if an investor is interested in a beachfront property which is not owned, the reforms - if they become law - would allow the government of Ricardo Martinelli to sell them. The changes, which could be applied during the pre-election period, would generate increased revenue for the state, and the possibility of selling the pristine beaches in the Northern part of the Veraguas province, as illustrated by Oduber. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Dumbfounded. Gobsmacked. Astounded. Flabbergasted. Stupefied. If Franklin Oduber is acting in concert with Ricardo Martinelli on this one, it will be the end of the Cambio Democratico political party. If he's acting alone, then that means he knows where the bodies (illegal titles) are buried in Panama, and who was behind the massive land grabs this government has been conducting. Rather than giving more power to the ANATI, the government should give them less. All titles that have been issued by this organization should be immediately FROZEN. An outside organization such as the Public Ministry or the Comptroller should be conducting an in depth AUDIT, as the result of an executive order. The fact of the matter is, folks - this government has stolen hundreds if not thousands of hectares of land worth millions if not billions of dollars, and now this guy has the balls to ask for more power? The week after having received a criminal complaint about the land grab in Punta Chame? And after they have been informed about the complaints that are about to be dropped on their heads from other similar cases around the country. It makes no sense. There are only two options. Either Martinelli is in on it, and he's doing it all himself. Or, Oduber is acting on his own, and he's looking to execute on the leverage (intelligence information about the land grabs) to parlay that into a more secure job for himself.

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Proposal To Strengthen The ANATI (Draft)

CorruptionLast week, several members of the National Land Council received in black and white a document that crystallizes the government's intentions to further modify the legislation concerning land titles. It was a draft of a bill which basically aims to give more powers to the National Land Authority (Anati), to perpetuate the administrator for seven years on the job, and to eliminate the issuance of free land titles in any form. It was learned that the Minister of Economy and Finance, Frank De Lima, and the Comptroller General, Gioconda de Bianchini (both members of the Land Council) have in their hands the reforms promoted by the Director of the ANATI Franklin Oduber Burillo. Oduber's interest is that the draft bill be reviewed by members of the Land Council, to be submitted as soon as possible to the Executive Cabinet.

The legislative initiative would be managed through the Ministry of Housing and Land Management (Miviot), which is also part of the Land Council.

The reforms would be comprehensive. Included in the draft are articles from Law 80 of 2009, which recognizes the rights of possession, and regulates land titles in coastal areas, and articles from Law 59 of 2010 that created the ANATI. These changes are proposed after the controversial titles were issued on 54 hectares of land in John Hombrón, and later a parcel of land in Paitilla measuring more than 11,000 square meters was granted to the florist Cesar Segura, free of charge, which was subsequently returned to the state after irregularities were detected.

SEVEN YEARS IN THE POST - Supposedly with these modifications the government seeks to plug gaps that have been left in the two laws. But sources consulted do not believe these are the genuine intentions, in part, because of the proposal for the General Manager of the ANATI to be designated by the president and then ratified by the National Assembly for a period of seven years in office, which would begin to run from the enactment of the law. This would mean that the director of the ANATI would be in charge at least until 2019 if the bill is passed this year. And what's more, only the Third Chamber of the Supreme Court would be able to remove him from office.

Carlos Gasnell, the Executive Vice President of the Foundation for the Development of Civic Freedom, calls attention to the "shielding" the appointment of the director of the Anati for a time exceeding the presidential term. "This could be justified if there was a real intention to depoliticize this institution, which is not observed in the formation of the National Land Council," he said. Gasnell advocates for an an integrated Land Council with representative sectors of society, and not only by officials such as the Ministers of Economy, Agricultural Development, the Comptroller, the Directors of the Public Registry, Environment, and ANATI.

The former Minister of Finance Alberto Vallarino, who in the past objected to several legal changes, including the law that created the Anati which gives absolute power in the area of ​​land titling, also criticized the proposal. He believes that the charges of this type must be available to each administration. The most convenient, in his view, is that the administrator should be left in the position just six months after the presidential term ends in which he worked, to make an orderly transition. Currently, the Anati director is appointed for a period of five years and is freely removable.

Official Sales - The proposal in the hands of several of the ministers of the government of Ricardo Martinelli also includes the proposal for the ANATI to be able to officially sell vacant lands owned by the state including coastal and island territory, where there are no legitimate material possessory right, through the methods specified in the Law of Act Procurement. According to Gasnell, the draft bill changes the character of the coastal zones set in the Constitution which says they are "not be adjudicated." "They are trying to allow for the award of these lands without many parameters, significantly increasing the power and discretion of the Administrator of the ANATI," he said.

In this analysis the law of public procurement would have to be considered, which allows for tenders by invitation and direct contracting, both methods which have been strongly questioned about the possible involvement of favoritism. It is unknown whether these mechanisms would be used when the state puts public lands for sale under its own initiative.

The document prepared by the ANATI also emphasizes that the entity would have total authority over landfills and the granting of concessions, without giving further details of this scope.

La Prensa sent an email to Oduber, the Director Anati, to learn about the basics of the changes he is proposing, but at press time the interview request was not granted. He also did not answer the questions sent by email. His press office reported that Oduber had received the request but would respond this week.

La Prensa also consulted the Finance Minister on the reforms to be presented to the Cabinet. The questions submitted via email were not answered. The calls were not answered.

It is assumed that this week the issue will be addressed in the National Land Council. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: This proposal can only be described as "Franklin Oduber's Wet Dream." Right now there is a war waging between the PRD and the CD over who stole more land through these offices. Before the CD came along, the PRD when they were in office (2004 - 2009) used the offices of Catastro (tax office) and the office of Agrarian Reform to steal at least 88 parcels of land worth God-knows-how-many millions of dollars, in places like the islands in the Las Perlas archipelago, in Bocas del Toro, and in along the Northern shores of the Los Santos province. When the CD took over (2009 - 2014) the passed two laws, 59 and 80, which created the ANATI. They have since used this office to ILLEGALLY grant land titles all over hell - Paitilla, Juan Hombron, Punta Chame, Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui, in the province of Colon, and who knows where else. Those documents are now safely buried in Franklin Oduber's desk. The Public Ministry and the Attorney General are now actively investigating those complaints against the PRD, but they are not doing a damn thing against what Franklin Oduber and the former Minister of the Presidency Jimmy Papadimitriu did on their watch. So now because Franklin Oduber knows where the bodies (titles) are buried, he has the balls to put forth this proposal that would lock him in office until 2019, and protect him from being removed by the next president, except by the Supreme Court. Yeah - not likely to happen. Nice try, though. Much more likely is that eventually Franklin Oduber will go the way of Jimmy Papadimitriu - out the damn door because he is becoming more of a political burden than he's worth. The criminal complaints are just starting to roll in on what these guys have been doing in office. Franklin Oduber has already received the first on, on the Punta Chame case. And, there will be more. This is a move on his part to try to quickly solidify his position, forever. He's doing it because he know's he's severely exposed. But he has some leverage, the knowledge of who did what, when, so he's trying to parlay one against the other. It's a nice play, politically speaking, but his timing is all wrong. Notice that this article has been filed under the "Corruption" Category of articles, for a reason.

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Ministry Of Health Missing $1.2 Million Dollars Worth Of Laundry Equipment

CorruptionThe building that is now being used as temporary holding cells by the National Immigration Service for illegal aliens located behind Los Llanos de Curundú, was previously going to be used by health authorities to function as a central laundry for the Ministry of Health (MOH). At this location they intended to do all of the laundry and ironing for everything used in their hospitals (robes, hats, bed linen, etc.), for at least 16 hospitals in the metropolitan area.

Although the place was somewhat secluded and close to the multifamily units in Curundú, a red zone, in 2009 the Ministry of Health made an investment of $1.2 million dollars to purchase the new washing machines and ironing equipment for this plant, however, that investment had its complications. The laundry center was never opened in this area. And, shortly after the acquisition of the new equipment, the amount of which is unknown, the then Health Minister Franklin Vergara made a site inspection visit and discovered that the site was abandoned, unhealthy, with damaged equipment, and they converted the site into a warehouse for expired medicines.

Where Is The Laundry Equipment? But what happened to the laundry equipment, in which they invested $1.2 million dollars, and who is realizing this work for the Ministry of Health? The director of the Metropolitan Health Region, Jorge Hassan, through a spokesman for the institution, said this equipment was transferred to the Santo Tomas hospital, and that they are responsible for the use thereof.

However, the Director of the Santo Tomas Hospital Elias Garcia Mayorca said they do not have this laundry equipment to which Hassan refers, and much less do they provide laundry services for the Ministry of Health. "I will ask Hassan when we acquired these washing machines, because I understand the Santo Tomas Hospital outsources all laundry and ironing services for the hospital clothing," said the doctor.

Meanwhile, at the Hospital of the Social Security Fund, the Communications Department reported that the institution stopped providing laundry services for the Ministry of Health clothing.

We contacted the Minister of Health, Javier Diaz, to explain where are these washing machines, but his assistant said the minister did not have time to answer reporters.

Editor's Comment: The Minister does not have time to answer reporters? What, too busy stealing $1.2 million dollars in state funds? You should understand that the Ministry of Health, the Social Security Fund, and the Santo Tomas Hospital are three separate entities who do not all work for the same boss.

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Land Fraud Of State Lands Affected Three Islands (Two in Bocas)

CorruptionThe investigation being conducted by the Attorney General for alleged fraud in the enrollment of 88 farms belonging to the State, not only affects a coveted island in the Pacific, but two in the Caribbean.

In total 311 hectares of land located on San Miguel island in the Pearl islands, and on the islands Punta Laurel and Cayo de Agua in Bocas del Toro have been transferred "irregularly."

They paid only $6 dollars per hectare for these valuable lands - which when transferred were identified as vacant lots - with the endorsement of the Direction of Land Reform in the early months of 2009, even though the institution had no jurisdiction over coastal and island lands.

All of the documents were signed by the then National Director of Agrarian Reform, Nadia Moreno, and by Rosa Castro Cumbrera, Secretary "ad hoc".

On 6 January 2006, two farms owned by the state on the islands Punta Laurel and Cayo de Agua in Bocas del Toro were awarded by Agrarian Reform to two corporations, according to documents from the Public Registry.

One of these is farm number 10346, of 100 hectares located on the island Cayo de Agua, which was awarded for a fee of $600 dollars to the company Siempre Calificas 2020 S.A. Now the property is being sold online for $6 million dollars.

The other property is farm number 10345, of 85 hectares, located on Punta Laurel, awarded for $516 dollars to the company Paraiso Villa Verde International S.A. Now the company is selling the property for $3 million dollars.

Both properties ended up in the hands of the Río Puigjermanal family, who have various cases pending against hem for alleged fraud and convictions in Spain. The Río Puigjermanal are on the list of at least 43 people who were linked to the alleged ring that enrolled 88 State farms irregularly, late in the administration of Martin Torrijos, the majority of them, close relatives of the PRD Deputy Freidi Torres.

Farm number 300989 on San Miguel island met the same fate, where 126 hectares were granted by the office of Agrarian Reform for just $762 dollars.

To date, eight of these people face precautionary measures, including Jose Edir Torres, who enrolled 58 of the farms being investigated in the Public Registry, and Jesus Morales, who recorded another 19.

As part of the investigation, the authorities are also investigating the falsification of stamps and documents, and the loss of records from the office of Agrarian Reform. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: What the PRD started under Martin Torrijos with the offices of Catastro and Agrarian Reform, the CD continued using the newly created ANATI. The CD is pushing this investigation, as a counter balance to their own sins committed in Paitilla, Juan Hombron, Punta Chame, Bocas del Toro, and all over the rest of the country. The difference is - the Attorney General is actively investigating the cases against the PRD, while they sweep the allegations against the CD under the rug. Refer to the previous article about corruption and a lack of judicial security for foreign investors.

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Martinelli Promises The "Surprise Of The Century" Over Illegal Land Transfers

CorruptionThe president Ricardo Martinelli denounced as a "big heist" the purchase of land on an island, which was then sold again for $8 million dollars. Martinelli, after inaugurating an aqueduct in the village of San Martin, said "it will be the surprise of the century when they see who is involved there." Although Martinelli hinted the island was in Veraguas, the transaction corresponds to an island of 126 hectares in the Pearl Islands (San Miguel). The property was illegally registered on 14 April 2009 and $702 was paid to the office of Agrarian Reform. A foundation in which figures from opposition Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) now appear as those who made ​​the arrangements. The farm would be number 300989 and is one of 88 state lands transferred to third parties, and in which figure lands close to the beach in Veraguas.

As for the project being inaugurated in San Martin, improvements were made to the aqueducts in Juan Gil, El Puro, Loma Bonita, Carriazo and San Miguel, developed by the Community Development Program (PRODEC). (Critica)

Editor's Comment: The PRD guys stole a whole bunch of state land before they left office in 2009. Martinelli is now opening up his initial salvos on these cases, which they have obviously known about for a long time. The reason? Now that the PRD has held their internal elections and selected their new National Executive Committee (CEN), Martinelli knows who he's shooting at. And specifically, they have been able to link some of the highest ranking CEN members to these 88 parcels of land, in an attempt to taint the PRD and Juan Carlos Navarro as corrupt. What about Punta Chame? The ANATI has the complaint, what are they going to do about that? Martinelli should immediately revert those lands, as well. And there are other cases that have not "broke" in the news yet, because the victims are still sharpening their pencils and studying their options. More to come...

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National Security Sewers? Comptroller Denies Access To Government Contract Information

CorruptionThe Comptroller General of the Republic has given a new status to the contracts signed by the government with companies that are awarded projects. On 9 August 2012 La Prensa requested information to amplify the terms of the contract awarded by the National Assistance Program (PAN) and Costructora Rodsa, the company that was awarded a contract by "direct invitation" to expand the sewer system in Chitré, in the Herrera province, but according to the Comptroller these documents are "confidential."

The request for information should have included a detailed report on how much money the PAN has received from the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (Idaan), and a breakdown of all projects and costs for PAN projects between 2009 and 2012. The answer, via email, said that all of the requested information is "restricted". The Comptroller justified its position with the following statement: "In accordance with Article 14 and Paragraph 7 of Article 1, both from Law 6 of 2002, in accordance with Article 125 of Executive Order Number 194 of 16 September 1997 (The Rules of Procedure of the General Comptroller of the Republic), the requested information is restricted, which is why we are prevented from fulfilling your request."

However, according to legal experts consulted, the Articles cited by the Comptroller refer to "information relating to national security," ie documents that are handled by security agencies. The PAN does not fall within this definition.

According to the former Comptroller Alvin Weeden, "all information that [La Prensa] requested from the Comptroller is publicly accessible, and by refusing access they have committed a flagrant act of abuse of authority for omission of their duties." Weeden said criteria cited by the institution is "overwhelmed and without legal basis", when they should be called to ensure transparency. He added that the documents relating to public bidding processes do not fit in any of the cases set to be considered restricted information.

The expansion of the sewer system in Chitré, for $41.9 million dollars, is the most expensive project being managed by the PAN. The improvements to this infrastructure is one of several awarded via a "quick track" method. The law governing the PAN allows for the use of a way to issue government contracts that is different and independent of the Panamá Compras system, and a public bidding process is not required. Instead, they can use a direct contract or an act called "recruitment by invitation," to summon the companies featured in the list of providers, and an evaluation committee decides which company wins the contract.

In the PAN budget for 2013 presented last week before the National Assembly, Rafael Guardia, who was recently appointed as the Director of the PAN, declined to give an interview on the subject because he said "I am very involved with the budget." Meanwhile, the comptroller, Gioconda de Bianchini, evaded reporters at the end of her statements on the budget made before the National Assembly.

Changes in the Budget: Originally the price for the sewer expansion project in Chitré was granted for $33 million dollars. When the contract was awarded to the company Constructora Rodsa, the price was increased to $41.9 million dollars. A total of three companies participated in the "recruitment by invitation" process. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: OK, so now sewers are protected as "national security" projects? Obviously, this is just one more example of how the person who is supposed to be making sure that no one is stealing state funds - in her position as the Comptroller General of the Republic - instead is helping it to happen. While it's not surprising at all, it's unfortunate. Transparency fights corruption, it's that simple.

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Island Lands, For Sale For $8 Million Dollars, Despite Investigation

CorruptionOne of the most valuable parcels of land in the alleged fraud of the 88 state lands that were transferred to third parties, is on sale for the huge sum of $8 million dollars on Internet sites encuentra24.com and compreoaquile.com. This is the farm number 300989, with location code 8107, which consists of about 126 hectares, and is located in one of the most exclusive tourist areas of the Las Perlas archipelago, on the island of San Miguel.

The investigation being conducted by the Attorney General, through four prosecutors in the country, found that the transfer of the property in question was registered on April 14, 2009, in favor of one of the 34 front corporations used as screen for this alleged crime, a private interest foundation called "Rey David" in which David Fernando Torres serves as representative.

David is a cousin of the National Assembly Deputy from the opposition Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD).

The transaction was negotiated at a nominal cost of $702 dollars, at just $5.50 per hectare, received the endorsement of Nadia Moreno, the former director of the Agrarian Reform, although her office did not have the authority to register island land, but only inland properties. Moreno was a personal collaborator of the Deputy Torres. Meanwhile, David Fernando Torres is also the elected convention delegate for the PRD in Herrera, and is part of the group supporting the campaign of Juan Carlos Navarro, the General Secretary of the National Executive Committee of the collective.

Panama America contacted Diana Morales, who posted the ad on the website compreoalquile.com, and confirmed that the said property was in the process of being sold. One of the advertisements says the land is 149 hectares on an island, however of this total they managed to title 126 hectares, and the rest remained as possessory rights. The farm consists of about 3 kilometers of beach, which crosses the San Juan river.

The connections of this network linked to the alleged crimes maintain international contacts, and several of these have already been convicted of various crimes. The links of this network also referred to Roy Torres, elected as the fifth member of the Court of Honor and Discipline of the new CEN of the PRD. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Ah, so that's how the Martinelli administration is going to counter balance the reports of land fraud being committed by the ANATI and their own corrupt officials. They are going to focus attention on land theft and fraud and corruption conducted during the administration of Martin Torrijos, and in particular those PRD politicians who are now closely linked to their greatest political threat - Juan Carlos Navarro. Hence - we will have dueling land fraud, with corrupt officials on both sides. But what's the difference? The Attorney General and Supreme Court will focus completely on going after the PRD guys, while simultaneously trying to either ignore or bury the allegations being made against the ANATI and their own current and former officials. And for the rest of us the bottom line remains the same = all politicians are corrupt.

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Supreme Court Tosses Juan Hombron Case Against Jimmy Papadimitriu

CorruptionThe Supreme Court decision that closed the case against the former Minister of the Presidency Demetrio Papadimitriu, over the titles issued for parcels of land in Juan Hombrón, did not take up the merits of the matter, that is, the alleged anomalies in the process, but rather the decision was based on a technicality. The ruling, in the presentation of Judge Hernán de León, and dated June 28, or 15 days before Papadimitriu resigned from office, responded to a specific request made by the Attorney General Jose Ayu Prado, who in his conclusions about the process warned that the complainant, Wigberto Jaramillo, presented no summary evidence, which is mandatory in proceedings for the alleged commission of the crimes of abuse of authority and violation of the duties of public servants, as initiated on 15 November 2011 against the then minister. In his prosecutor's opinion, Ayu Prado also concluded that the evidence provided by Jaramillo, the community leader from John Hombrón in Cocle, did not prove the link between Papadimitriu and the other crimes for which he was charged: embezzlement, trafficking influences, forgery and criminal conspiracy. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: No real surprise here. When there are legal cases at this level of government, the facts of the case and the evidence never really matter all that much. While everyone knows Jimmy Papadimitriu caused the Juan Hombron scandal, there was a quid pro quo - the case against him and his associates will all go away, he will leave office, and he loses whatever money he paid to the people in Juan Hombron in order to try to take over that land. But, there's a problem. We now know that Juan Hombron was just the first case, of many. We now know the same people committed the same crimes all over the country - in Punta Chame, Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui, and other cases that have been bought to my attention. In short, the cat is out of the bag. Everyone now knows what to look for. They know how to file the cases against the corruption. And, they have already fired the one bullet they had to protect Papadimitriu - he resigned. But, you can't resign twice. Let's see just how far the administration of Ricardo Martinelli is willing to go in order to cover for and protect Jimmy Papadimitriu, as these other emerging cases make their way through the system. They where hoping to make the whole Juan Hombron thing go away, with an eye towards the 2014 elections. Jimmy Papadimitriu had to go, because the Juan Hombron case became a political liability. But, what happens when there are about two or three dozen cases that are identical to Juan Hombron?

What Should Happen: The Director of the ANATI reports directly to president Ricardo Martinelli. It is now perfectly clear (to me, details coming) that Franklin Oduber is more part of the problem than the solution. Titles were issued on land in the spring of 2012, well after the Juan Hombron scandal broke, after Anabel Villamonte was long gone, while Jimmy Papadimitriu was still in office and before he resigned, in which Franklin Oduber played a key role. And once again, in this case they used collusion, corruption, influence peddling, abuse of office, and perjury to flat out STEAL land worth millions of dollars from American investors. President Martinelli should immediately order a freeze on all land transfers. They should conduct a comprehensive audit of all titles issued by the ANATI, starting with its creation. They should focus on any land close to the ocean, because apparently the corrupt government officials decided they wanted to steal as much beachfront property as possible.

Outside Justice: And this Supreme Court decision makes another thing perfectly clear - those who have been affected cannot expect any level of "justice" from the bought and paid for Panamanian Supreme Court. They will have to seek justice through international tribunals, and using other means and methods to put pressure on the government of Panama from the outside. Of course this situation will most likely change, as it becomes more and more apparent that it makes no sense to try to cover for or continue to protect Papadimitriu, and they will probably toss him under the bus. Expect more to come as the emerging cases take shape and develop.

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Criminal Complaint Filed In ANATI Punta Chame Land Grab

Corruption
Franklin Oduber - Director of Panama's National Land Authority (ANATI)
Franklin Oduber - Director of Panama's National Land Authority (ANATI)
By DON WINNER for Pa nama-Guide.com Yesterday morning the highly respected and well known Panamanian environmental lawyer Dr. Donaldo Sousa Guevara, acting on behalf of the "Association of Friends of Punta Chame and Land Owners of Punta Chame," filed an official criminal complaint and request with the Director of the National Land Authority (ANATI), Franklin Oduber. This case involves the parcel of land measuring just over 9,381 square meters located in Punta Chame, "between" existing beachfront parcels of property, and the ocean (see the Related Articles section below.) The complaint alleges the commission of several serious crimes by current and former employees of the ANATI and others, specifically administrative offenses, crimes against the environment and land management, abuse of authority, influence peddling, and violation of due process.

On 7 October 2011 the former Director of Land Titling, Anabel Villamonte Murgas, signed ANATI resolution number 329, which granted free title on 9,381 square meters of land to a company called Puntabeach Interprises S.A..

This newly created parcel of land would basically "block" several existing land owners, among them several American citizens who purchased titled beach front or ocean front land in Punta Chame several years ago, from the beach. That is to say, this parcel of land is "between" them and the ocean. This is clearly another case very similar to the Juan Hombron land grab scandal which resulted in the resignation (or firing) of Jimmy Papadimitriu from his former position as the Minister of the Presidency. It is now obvious Juan Hombron was just the tip of the iceberg. The identical "modus operandi" was used in many other similar cases. This is how corrupt officials in the Panamanian government have been taking advantage of the new Law 80 and the creation of the ANATI to steal very valuable beachfront property, all over the country;

  • First, lawyers working on behalf of corrupt government officials create a new company (corporation).

  • Then, they pay off local people to sign off on bogus Rights of Possession documents. In these documents the local people swear up and down (in exchange for money) that someone has supposedly been living on a parcel of land for years, even though it's not true.

  • Those false (bought and paid for) statements are then used as the basis to make a new Rights of Possession claim, filed with the local office of the Justice of the Peace (Corregidor) where the land is located.

  • The local owner who was just recognized as having the Rights of Possession - normally a poor person who lives in the area - then sells those newly recognized Rights of Possession to the newly created company or corporation.

  • The newly created company then uses all of this documentation to present a request for title to the ANATI.

  • Corrupt government officials at the ANATI then issue the title, based on the bogus documents. All of this can happen within days or just a few weeks.

  • The perpetrators then turn around and offer the land - which was given to them for free by the government of Panama - on the Internet. In the case of the land in Punta Chame, they were offering the 9,381 square meter parcel of land for sale for $1.5 million dollars.

Related Articles:

And There's More Coming: The Juan Hombron case was the first. Punta Chame is the second. And since I started reporting on the Punta Chame case, I have been contacted by dozens of other land owners who are facing similar circumstances, all over the country - along the Pacific beaches, in Chiriqui, the Azuero peninsula, along both the Upper and Lower coasts of Colon, and in Bocas del Toro. This thing is going to get a whole lot bigger, and it's not going to go away any time soon. (more)

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Tribunal Denies Motions Filed By Former Director of Immigration - She's Going To Trial

CorruptionThe First Superior Tribunal of Justice rejected an application for the protection of constitutional guarantees presented by defense lawyers representing the former Director of the National Immigration Service María Cristina González, against a ruling issued by the Third Criminal Court judge Adolfo Mejia, who called her to trial with four others for the alleged forgery of visas. The resolution was issued on 24 August 2012, and had as the judge rapporteur Nelson Ruiz. In the petition, Gonzalez's defense lawyers argued that judge Mejia committed illegalities because during the preliminary hearing (on July 20) he did not decide several incidents of invalidation that had been presented by the lawyers Carlos Herrera Moran and Oswaldo Fernández, who are defending two of the nine accused. The appeals were denied as unfounded in the resolution dated 27 July 2012, which called Gonzalez and four others to trial. The court issued an edict on Monday, to notify the parties. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Watching these cases slowly grind their way through the legal system is a perfect testament as to why Panama has to switch to the new "accusatory" criminal system. Right now in Panama nothing is done in real time, in front of a judge, as you are probably accustomed to seeing in the United States for example. It's all done on paper, slowly, and it's very easy for a defense lawyer to delay the system literally for years, just by filing a whole stack of motions and petitions - which they normally do when they know their client will eventually be found guilty.

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Trial Against Mingthoy Giro For Disappearance Of Bronze Statues Started This Morning

CorruptionAt 8:30 am today, Monday August 27, began the hearing for alleged offenses against public administration, against the former administrator of the Omar Park, Mingthoy Giro, the former director of Historic Heritage Domingo Varela, the former SPI officials and former government officials Jaime Salgado, Hector del Cid, Marino José Moreno, Marco Aparicio, Rolando Vásquez and Erick Murillo.

The hearing is being conducted by the Second Criminal Judge Johan Barrios, over the disappearance of 42 bronze statues called the "Games of Yesteryear" which disappeared from the park's amphitheater.

The Second Anti Corruption Prosecutor Lissete Chevalier has sought a trial against Mingthoy Giro for alleged negligent embezzlement, and has requested a provisional dismissal of charges against the former director of historical heritage, Domingo Varela.

The prosecutor has also called for a trial for theft and abuse of office against the six other people who are involved. So far the complainant and the prosecutor have spoken, and it is expected that each of the defense attorneys will speak for about an hour. (Mi Diario)

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The CEMIS Case Has Been Languishing In The Public Ministry For 29 Months

CorruptionThe investigation being conducted by the Public Ministry (MP) into the alleged payment of bribes in 2001 for the approval of the Multimodal Industrial and Services Center (CEMIS) project has been stalled for 29 months, because of a number of motions that have been filed with a variety of statutory bodies of the judiciary that have not yet been resolved.

Sources in the Public Ministry and the Judicial branch said an appeal presented by defense lawyers representing the former lawmaker Mateo Castillero is still pending in the Second Superior Tribunal.

Therefore, the Public Ministry has not been able to perform some of the steps associated with the investigation, which began in 2002 but a year later was closed, and it was then reopened again in December 2009, by order of the Supreme Court.

In 2009, investigations were divided between the Supreme Court, the National Assembly and the Public Ministry - based on the prosecutor's opinion prepared in January 2003 by the then Attorney General José Antonio Sossa, who asked for the charges against Castillero to be dismissed, and for the then lawmaker Carlos Afu to be called to trial, as well as the directors of the San Lorenzo Consortium (who was promoting the CEMIS project) Stephen Jones and Martin Rodin.

It falls to the Supreme Court to investigate Carlos Afu, who enjoys a level of protection from prosecution because he is an elected Deputy in the National Assembly.

It falls to the Public Ministry to investigate and prosecute those individuals who are now former lawmakers or private citizens.

The Public Ministry received its portion of the case file on 10 March 2010, when Giuseppe Bonissi had a month as the Attorney General. On that date, Bonissi said the investigation would take place regardless of the profile of those involved (today, did not return calls from this newspaper).

But a month later, in April 2010, there was the first and decisive setback. He asked the Electoral Tribunal (TE) to certify the electoral jurisdiction of 42 people who are allegedly involved in the case, but the Public Ministry has not received the requested information, due to the various legal appeals by the defense lawyers representing suspects.

In addition, on 21 September 2010 the Fourth Criminal Court was notified about the presentation of a motion for the prior and special pronouncement, requesting the termination of criminal proceedings. This motion was filed by Moravia Guerrero, the defense lawyer representing Martin Rodin.

When the Court asked the Attorney General for his opinion on the motion, Bonissi ordered the suspension of the investigation procedures, based on Article 2276 of the Judicial Code, which states: "the incident will be handled in a separate file, and it will suspend the processing of the case."

Eight months later, on 13 May 2011, the Fourth Criminal Court notified the Public Ministry again, this time to the new Attorney General Jose Ayu Prado, on the submission of a new motion, which called for the closure of the case. This action was filed by Victor Almengor, the defense lawyer representing Mateo Castillero.

In his response to the Fourth Criminal Court, Ayu Prado called for the rejection of the appeal, and it was not until 27 April 2012, when the judge Secundino Mendieta ruled on both actions in the same resolution and denied them both.

However, the Public Ministry is unable to continue with the investigation, because Castillero's technical defense appealed Mendieta's decision to the Second Superior Tribunal, and this appeal has not yet been decided.

Sources in the Public Ministry said they cannot give details about the internal contents of the process, and they merely reported their agency's officials go to the various offices of the judiciary every week to follow up on the status of the pending motions.

In The Supreme Court - Meanwhile, in June 2012 the Supreme Court judge Abel Zamorano, who has been appointed as the prosecutor for this investigation, issued his prosecutor's opinion. He called for the dismissal of all charges against Carlos Afu. In the same opinion he also called for there to be a trial against the former president Martin Torrijos, and he asked the Supreme Court to prevent Torrijos from leaving the county.

The request has not been resolved by the full Court, because Torrijos gave up his seat as a Member of the Central American Parliament, a few days after the prosecutor's opinion was issued. If his resignation is accepted his case would have to go to the Public Ministry, because he would lost his electoral immunity, and the Supreme Court would no longer be the competent authority to hear the case against him.

The Case Was Closed In The Assembly - The only phase of the CEMIS case that has been closed is the part that was sent to the National Assembly regarding the complaint filed by the former PRD legislator Balbina Herrera over the alleged payment of bribes to lawmakers, in order to obtain their support for the ratification of the Supreme Court judges Winston Spadafora and Alberto Cigarruista in 2002. In May 2010, a week after receiving the dossier, the Credentials Committee ordered it to be closed for a "lack of evidence." (Prensa)

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Mulino Says His Conscience Is Clear On Lavitola Case

CorruptionPanama's Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino said on Thursday, 16 August 2012, in an exclusive interview with La Esprella, that "I never had anything to say on the Lavítola case, my conscience is clear." Mulino said this was a case that was manipulated in the press and politically in order to do damage. "Now they will say the judges in Italy have been manipulated," he said.

Mulino said security has come a long way since he took office three years ago, however, he clarified there are still specific problems with gangs and drugs, although the statistics in Panama are more favorable than in other countries in the region. The minister said they have invested $1 billion dollars in police infrastructure.

About the Strategy Plan of the Ministry, he said they are continuing with this plan, and they seek to have citizens more involved in prevention. He also said they are alarmed because at the start of his administration the largest cause of assassinations was drug trafficking, but today it's life in society, which represents 45% of the crimes. "Society is becoming violent," said the Minister.

He said the the Preventive Security Cabinet program, made ​​up of several government agencies, was created to handle the problem of insecurity from all angles, especially in remote and high risk areas.

Regarding the conflict between the State Border Service (SENAFRONT), with the indigenous Kuna Yala Comarca, Mulino said "there is nothing to worry about," adding "San Blas is a special area, where there is interference by the drug traffickers. We hope to reinforce the area with the Naval Station in El Porvenir."

Mulino also referred to the salary increase for the National Police, which will be effective in October, bringing the basic starting salaries for new police officers to about $590 dollars per month. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Once again, it's pretty clear this whole Lavitola thing was a case of "corruptus interruptus" - they were on their way to a large corruption scandal, but it all got broken up before any bribes were actually paid. I think the Lavitola scandal is was sank the alliance between the Panameñistas and the Cambio Democratico, and that it was Juan Carlos Varela who put that all together. He got caught, so he got fired. The same thing happened to Jimmy Papadimitriu in the Juan Hombron land grab scandal. There was a whole bunch of recent reporting on sweetheart deals between road building companies and the Minister of Public Works - so he's gone. It's a pattern of conduct.

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Italian Supreme Court Cancels Lavitola Arrest For Panama Corruption - But He Remains in Jail

CorruptionNAPLES (Reuters) - The Court of Cassation annulled the arrest order against Valter Lavitola for charges of international corruption, but the former director of Avanti remains in jail because he is under investigation for other crimes. This was announced yesterday by Lavitola's lawyer, Gaetano Balice. The cancellation was in reference to the Court of Review for the charge of having paid bribes to politicians in Panama.

Lavitola remains in jail. The Supreme Court has confirmed that Lavitola will remain in prison because he still faces charges for having received 23 million euros of public funds for the daily newspaper Avanti. Lavitola will face judgment on October 9. What's more, Lavitola's custody order was further confirmed on 3 August 2012 when he was charged with conspiring to extort the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Editor's Comment: This morning president Ricardo Martinelli sent via his Twitter account a challenge to the local media, asking why no one was reporting the news that the charges against Lavitola for supposedly having paid bribes to Panamanian politicians had been dropped. As I always suspected, the Lavitola case in Panama seems to have been a situation of "corruptus interruptus." In other words, they were setting it up, but the scandal involving Lavitola and his trying to bribe Berlusconi blew up before it all came together here in Panama. It is my personal belief the whole Lavitola affair played a key role in the disintegration of the alliance between the Panameñistas and the Cambio Democratico. Remember, the Panameñistas are experts at sucking money out of foreigners. Case in point - Mireya Moscoso and the museum built using money donated by Taiwan. And at the time all of this Lavitola crap was being put together, the Panameñista Juan Carlos Varela was the Foreign Minister. It's quite possible Martinelli fired Varela because he got caught with his hand too far into the Lavitola cookie jar.

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Corruption Complaint Filed Against CD Lawmaker

Corruption
Vidal García - Panamanian National Assembly Deputy from Chilibre
Vidal García - Panamanian National Assembly Deputy from Chilibre
This morning, Monday 13 August, a criminal complaint was filed with the Supreme Court against the National Assembly Deputy, who is also the Representative from the area of Chilibre, Vidal Garcia, by members of the Legal Sector of the PRD political party. The complaint was filed over the alleged commission of offenses against property, abuse of authority, violation of the duties of public servant, theft, and crimes against public administration. According to attorney Victor Bustamante, a farm located in Agua Bendita of Chilibre, owned by Nidia Montenegro de Pitti, was invaded by families who presented a sale certificate from the Community Board of this district, which bears the signature of the Deputy and Representative of the Democratic Change political party. The also indicate that Rosa Diaz, one of the people invading the farm, said they had "paid" for that land to the Community Board in Chilibre. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: It seems like making up fake documents to steal land is all the rage these days. Of course this complaint won't go anywhere. The PRD filed a complaint against a CD Deputy, before the Supreme Court that's owned and operated by the CD. Yeah, snowball's chance in hell of getting any justice in that case...

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Corruption Hearing Against Mingthoy Giro And Others Suspended (Again)

CorruptionThe hearing that was scheduled for today, Tuesday August 7 against the former administrator of the Omar Park in Panama City, Mingthoy Giro, and seven other suspects in the disappearance of the statues "Games of Yesteryear," was suspended for a second time. The Second Criminal Judge made ​​the decision because a lawyer was not notified, and the hearing was reprogrammed for 27 and 28 August 2012. On July 3 the hearing was suspended because a lawyer for one of those involved resigned from the case. Giro is accused, along with others in the Second Criminal Court for allegedly committing the crime of embezzlement, over the disappearance in 2008 of the statues "Games of Yesteryear". (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The former president Mireya Moscoso paid a Colombian artist a whole lot of money to create these bronze statues of children playing, and they were supposed to go in front of the new museum that was being built with the money stolen from Taiwan (that's a whole different scandal). So anyway, when the PRD got elected in 2004 and took over, they literally hated anything Moscoso had done. They ripped out those statues and put them in a storage facility in the Omar Park, under the safekeeping of Mingthoy Giro (who was working for the First Lady of Panama). At about that same time the price of scrap bronze when through the roof, and those puppies were apparently shipped off in a container to China and melted down. Eventually everyone found out, there was a scandal, and now four years later they are finally having a hearing. Anyway, lesson learned. If you really don't like someone, give them some really tacky artwork, and insist it be displayed in a prominent location forever. That'll teach 'em...

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ANATI Applies Restriction on Land in Punta Chame

Corruption Franklin Oduber, the Director of the National Authority of Land Management (ANATI), confirmed yesterday in an interview with TVN, his institution is checking to verify whether or not there were irregularities in the process of granting title - for free - on a parcel of beachfront property measuring 9,381 square meters in Punta Chame, during the administration of the former Director of Land Titling of the ANATI, Anabelle Villamonte, who gave the property to the company Puntabeach Interprises. Oduber said they received a complaint from residents more than a week ago, and later from the director of the Internet portal Panama Guide, Don Winner, so they will be meeting with the residents of this zone. "We will verify the measurement of high tide that was given in the title, and see whether or not this land is within the area that cannot be awarded," he promised.

For now, the ANATI has placed a "marginal" in the Public Registry to prevent any commercial activity with this property, which is the only one under investigation, although Winner reports on other possible titles in the area which he described as a sand bank. In this regard, Oduber said in an interview with TVN he would simply talk about the case that has been reported, but that "if there exists any other irregularity or complaint that has merit anywhere across the country, we will proceed to investigate."

Oduber's statements were strongly criticized by Winner, who wrote on his website that he was "disappointed by Oduber" because during a meeting between the two on Monday, the official called the award of land titles on this bank of sand "as a case Abuse of power ... that could not be maintained ... ". Winner said Oduber promised to investigate whether or not other irregular land titles had been issued in the area and the results of his investigation would be sent to the Public Ministry, which the official did not mention in his interview yesterday. Last Friday, Winner reported that the land in Punta Chame - to which Villamonte assigned a value of $56,000 dollars and which was given away for free - is for sale on the Internet for $1.5 million dollars.

The parcel of land in question was titled 21 days after Villamonte resigned from her post at the ANATI (on 16 September 2011), after the case of the granting of a free title on a parcel of land in Paitilla was denounced, and just when this newspaper (La Prensa) began publication of the Juan Hombrón case, for which Villamonte faced criminal proceedings. The lawyer Marcelino Ramos Madrid appears in this case of the granting of free title on the parcel of land in Punta Chame, who replaced Villamonte as the legal representative of the companies linked to the parents of the former Minister of the Presidency Demetrio Papadimitriu in the process of land titling Juan Hombrón. The Papadimitriu family lawyer, Carlos Carrillo, told this newspaper (La Prensa) his clients do not have any links with the land of Punta Chame.

Juan Hombrón - This newspaper tried to find out when the 54 hectares of land in Juan Hombrón will be sold at a public auction, as announced by the president, Ricardo Martinelli, but Oduber said that "for now there is nothing to report." On 17 July 2012 Martinelli announced the land purchased by the Papadimitriu family on this beach in Cocle would be sold at a public auction, but it wasn't until just a few days ago that the ANATI conducted a measurement (survey) of the area. (La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: A couple of notes for clarification. Apparently during my interview on TVN last Friday I was unable to clearly communicate in Spanish the idea that the ocean has continued to deposit sand along the Southern shore of the peninsula in Punta Chame. In fact over the years the entire peninsula has gotten "wider" because of this action. But, it's not what I would call a "sand bank." I never used the words in Spanish "banco de arena" during the interview, but apparently someone along the line attributed the expression to me. That's not what I said, or not what I was trying to say in any case. The land in question is basically "new land" created by the natural action of the ocean, which has deposited more sand in the area.

Weak, Flawed, "Disingenuous" ANATI Investigation Effort: As far as the ANATI's investigative process is concerned - it's unfortunate Franklin Oduber has apparently decided to focus on a technical issue such as the location of the high tide line identified in the case file and the plan. Apparently he intends to use a technicality to justify the reversal of the granting of the land title. During our meeting he also recognized the newly created parcel of land completely blocks at least two of the 3-meter wide "servidumbre" (beach access) roads in the area. He said that point alone would suffice to reverse the granting of the land title. And of course, that's what should happen, and that's fine. I really don't care how they get from point "A" to point "B" - but it would be healthier and more constructive in a strategic sense to focus on the bogus statements filed at the office of the local "Corregidor" (Justice of the Peace) in Punta Chame. Three people made sworn statements to the effect that one person had lived on that land for five years - and this document was used as the legal basis to grant land title. This is so clearly and obviously an act of corruption it boggles the mind. But if they just decide to take the route that "whoops, we got caught, let's make it go away quickly" rather than truly wanting to get at the root of the case, then that's simply unfortunate. And again, I discussed all of this with Oduber directly in his office. And to be fair it's not Oduber's job to investigate all of this bogus crap - that's the job of the prosecutor's of the Public Ministry. I suspect once the lawyers representing the affected land owners file their criminal complaints, then maybe some of that will happen.

La Prensa Is On It: I have to say I'm glad to see La Prensa is starting to "do their thing" on this case. I had my suspicions there might be Panameñistas involved in some manner, so therefore they wouldn't touch it. So either I was wrong (and there's no Panameñistas involved) or the guys at La Prensa have decided to dig into this case, regardless. It's important to point out that as of right now, we don't know for sure who was behind all of this. The end game conclusion in the Juan Hombrón scandal was that Jimmy Papadimitriu was ultimately responsible, and therefore he was forced to resign. Thus far, Papadimitriu has denied any connection or responsibility to the Punta Chame situation. Let's see where it all settles out at the end of the day. But as of right now, "ownership" of this Punta Chame situation remains unknown - at least in the press. My spider sense tells me Oduber knows, and he's not saying.

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Torrijos Calls For A Separation of Powers In Panama

CorruptionToday marks 31 years since the death of General Omar Torrijos Herrera so members of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) performed a ceremony at the mausoleum erected in his honor on the Amador Causeway. The former President of the Republic, Martin Torrijos Espino called for respect for due process in the investigations against him, for the paying or bribes to approve the Multimodal Services Center (CEMIS) project in 2001, where he is mentioned. "The Assembly and the Court closed the case and from that year until the government of Ricardo Martinelli came to power, my name came up," he told local media. He said in Panama there must be a separation of powers, just as there should be a free press, so they can fully exercise their right to inform the society.

Torrijos said the CEMIS case where his name is mentioned, is a clear example of the politicization of justice where the study will be a legal embarrassment for those who practice law in the country. Torrijos declined to give details of his sudden resignation from the Central American Parliament, and said in due time he will give statements. "Today is not the time or day, we commemorate the 31 anniversary of the death of Omar Torrijos," he said. After the ceremony at the Causeway there was a mass at 8:00 am at the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. (Panama America)

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Punta Chame Land Grab - Lawyers Sharpening Their Pencils

CorruptionBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I must say I was completely unimpressed and frankly disappointed with the interview given by the Director of the National Land Management Authority (ANATI) Franklin Oduber this morning. I met with him yesterday morning for about an hour, and he presented one face or position when talking to me, and a completely different stance during his appearance on the channel 2 TVN morning news broadcast. Yesterday, he told me directly this was "obviously" a case of abuse of power and position, and there's no way it would stand. He said they would freeze the land in question, and investigate to determine if title had been granted on any other lands in Punta Chame in a similar fashion. Oduber said they would be opening up their own official internal investigation, and then turning the results over to the prosecutors of the Public Ministry for them to conduct their investigations into any possible criminal acts. He also said they would grant Rights of Possession and land title to anyone in Punta Chame who already owns titled lands on the Southern side of the peninsula - because they are obviously the people who should have "first shot" at those lands, newly created by the wave action of the ocean, which deposited sand along the beach, making it wider. During our interview, Oduber adopted a relatively aggressive and forward leaning stance, promised to take corrective action, and act against those who might be found responsible. He actually said if someone gets "bloodied" then it's not his concern. I left the meeting with a good feeling that something might actually get done.

But his position on the channel 2 TVN news broadcast this morning was completely different. Most importantly, he injected a massively huge "if" - saying "if" any wrongdoing is found, then they would proceed to investigate further. He pulled way, way back from the relatively aggressive stance he presented in our meeting. Unfortunately, Oduber made no reference whatsoever to the promise he made in my interview with him yesterday, in reference to giving first priority to the existing land owners. The also seemed to insinuate that I don't know what I'm taking about, that persons who don't understand Law 80 might misinterpret the law, and there might be "inconsistencies" in the complaint. In short, his position in the TVN interview this morning was much, much more guarded and conservative compared to the position he took with me.

Make no mistake about it. I suspect elements from both the Panameñista and Cambio Democratico political parties have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar on this one - all the way up to their elbows. Their strategy now seems to downplay the whole thing, to nip it in the bud, and to make it go away as quickly and quietly as possible. Of course, I can understand their needs and desires, from a political perspective. They got badly hurt by the whole Juan Hombron scandal - and it cost Jimmy Papadimitriu his job.

Since breaking this story I have been getting contacted by some of the landowners themselves who are now in the processes of preparing their CRIMINAL complaints against all those involved. Again, there are possibly as many as 64 individual land owners who have been affected by this land grab, all along the Punta Chame peninsula. How much land is actually involved? I have no way of knowing. Lawyers will have to subpoena the ANATI records, for example. I don't have access to all of that, so how can I know?

Franklin Oduber told me yesterday they would be issuing orders to prevent the transfer on "all five" parcels of land, and now he says there's only one. Apparently, they have figured out that I don't have the documents to prove any other land was grabbed in the exact same manner, that I don't know the name of the companies or the finca numbers, so I can't look it up. So, now they say there are not five cases, but just one. Whatever. It's not my job to expose or correct corruption in the Panamanian government. I wish them luck in their efforts to dodge this bullet. Really, I do.

My concern starts and ends with the American landowner - and he will now be filing his complaints in this case. I suspect others will be filing their complaints as well, all along the beach. The La Prensa (Panameñista) newspaper and the Panama America (Cambio Democratico) won't be investigating this case, for political reasons. That leaves the PRD to go after this, if they want to. The Attorney General Jose Ayu Prado is beholden to Ricardo Martinelli, and he won't be investigating anything with any kind of enthusiasm or vigor. The justice system in Panama is driven more by politics than law on these kinds of issues.

Update: I was just contacted by a particularly shrill woman from La Prensa. They wanted to clarify that, in their opinion, they are completely neutral, and their only mission in life is to defend democracy. The deny any editorial slant or bias in favor of the Panameñista political party. However she did concur completely with me that the Panama America newspapers is completely and totally biased in favor of the CD and Ricardo Martinelli. I explained that, as a truly neutral political analyst, part of my job description is to spot bias in the local news reports. And, my opinion of that bias is just that - my opinion. If they don't like it of course they are perfectly capable of responding, sending me an email or whatever, to challenge any of my conclusions. In fact they did immediately respond last Saturday with this article - Punta Chame - Another Case Of Land Titles - which I translated and posted. And she's right, it's only been a couple of days since the story broke. She said they would continue to investigate the case, and their actions would speak for themselves. And, that's fine. The primary thrust of their first article was the same lawyer (Ramos) was linked to both the Juan Hombron and the Punta Chame cases. And now there's a whole raft of lawyers who will be shooting off their complaints, so it's going to grow even more legs. But please, don't try to tell me La Prensa is not biased in favor of the Panameñista political party. I mean, come on... (End Of Update)

Is anyone surprised by any of this stuff? I'm not. I'm not surprised that it happened. I'm not surprised it's now being hushed up. And, I'm not surprised it's not being investigated. I think corruption arrived in Panama with the Spanish conquistadors more than 500 years ago. It's always been this way, and it probably always will. The "lesson learned" for anyone who owns land in Panama is to be vigilant - and to remain vigilant - even if you own "beachfront" land that's "titled." Because obviously, in many cases the title in your hand is not worth the paper it's written on. Heads up. My job is done, and I'm out. I will continue to follow this story if there are any future or additional significant elements of news, but my days of spearheading on this issue are over. I'm not stupid...

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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ANATI Orders Official Investigation Into Punta Chame Land Grab - Freezes Property Transfer

CorruptionThe director of the National Land Authority, Franklin Oduber, announced today on the channel 2 TVN morning news program the ANATI has launched an official investigation, and issued and order to prevent the company from selling a parcel of land measuring more than 9,000 square meters in the center of the beach in Punta Chame, after a complaint filed by Don Winner, editor of the webpage www.panama-guide.com.

As reported by Winner on the TVN morning news last week, an area of sand was produced by the sea, and the then Director of Land Titles Anabelle Villamonte gave title on this land free of charge to the company Puntabeach Interprises S.A., which now aims to sell the land for $1.5 million dollars. The resolution is dated October 7, 2011.

Oduber said they have heard more stories on this topic, but it's just one lot that needs to be investigated, and if there is something wrong it will be rectified, because in the case referred to, there is one area which can be titled and another no. "It is subject to fix things," said Oduber, and he encouraged people to submit complaints in order to investigate.

However, he said there are people who do not know Law 80 which created the ANATI, and there could be inconsistencies in the allegations. He added it is difficult to predict whether or not the person who borders the land has title or not.

Oduber also said in Juan Hombrón, in the province of Cocle, the ANATI has not issued any eviction order in the area to the left, where there are many people who have Rights of Possession, and where they will continue with massive titling. During the administration of Ricardo Martinelli more than 270,000 people have received title on their lands. Oduber said they hope to reach a million land titles issued. He said that while the law was amended, they kept the spirit of granting land titles in order to benefit those who have the least resources. (TVN)

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33% Say Juan Hombron Scandal Is The Biggest Of The Martinelli Administration

Corruption The case of land titles given for free in the area of John Hombrón, along the Cocle coast, was identified by respondents in a poll taken by the company Unimer commissioned by La Prensa, as the biggest corruption scandal of the government of President Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal. 33% of those surveyed by Unimer, between 19 and 22 July, quoted spontaneously and as their only answer the case of free land titling in John Hombrón. In October 2011, this newspaper published a series on the land titles granted for free along coastal lands, revealing the network of people, actions and complicity that allowed 54 hectares of beach to pass into the hands of corporations belonging to the family of the then Minister of the Presidency, Demetrio Papadimitriu.

The implications of the case, starting with the resignation of the primary executives of the National Land Management Authority, Alejandro Castillero and Anabelle Villamonte, reach these days, due to the recent expropriation of land by the executive and the resignation of Papadimitriu.

Besides the case John Hombrón, respondents mentioned other Martinelli administration scandals, such as Valter Lavítola related to the purchase of radars, helicopters and other safety equipment from the Italian Finmeccanica group of companies (16.6%), the extra cost of public works (9.7%), the free transfer of the land in Punta Paitilla (7.7%), booting the former Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez out of office (2.7%), and the dismissal of former Foreign Minister and Vice President Juan Carlos Varela (2%). 4.9% of respondents said there have not been any scandals in the current government. Unimer polled 1,205 people, interviewed by face to face methodology, and distributed throughout the country except Darien and the indigenous regions. The confidence level is 95%, with a maximum margin of error of + / -2.8%.

Editor's Comment: See? That's exactly why president Ricardo Martinelli had to issue Executive Order 425 and order the expropriation of land in Juan Hombron. The scandal has been hurting them in the polls, and that's why Papadimitriu had to go. Still waiting to see if La Prensa goes after the Punta Chame land grab with the same gusto as the Juan Hombron case. There might be more than a couple of Panameñistas in the woodpile on that one - and it so, La Prensa will not go after it. Well, there's always Alvarado Alvarado, Telemetro, and the PRD to carry that torch. See? It's all politics.

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Former Director of Immigration Called To Trial For Corruption

CorruptionThird Criminal Judge Adolfo Mejia decided to call the former Director of Immigration, Maria Cristina Gonzalez and five others to trial for the alleged forgery of 8 visas for citizens of Bangladesh and other nationalities. Against Gonzalez, the judge agreed with the prosecution on the alleged existence of crimes of corruption, forgery and influence peddling. The judge also called to trial Edy Sáez and Walkiria Gallardo, who are employees at Immigration, as well as the lawyers Yulissa Carrizo and Hildebrando Vallester. Charges against Janeth De Gil, Ángel Paz and Juan Carlos Miranda were provisionally dropped, people who work in the computer department at Immigration, because these three people were not present at their posts when the user was created to make the fake visas. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Make a note. A former official of the Martinelli administration is being hauled to trial for corruption, while they are still in office. Normally, this sort of thing does not happen until after the next election.

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ANATI Freezing Punta Chame Land Grab Titles TODAY!

Corruption
Franklin Oduber - Director of the National Authority of Land Management (ANATI)
Franklin Oduber - Director of the National Authority of Land Management (ANATI)
By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I met with the Director of the National Land Management (ANATI) in Panama, Franklin Oduber, in his office for about an hour this morning. He invited me to discuss the situation regarding the issuance of new titles on land in the area of Punta Chame by the former Director of Titles for the ANATI, Anabelle Villamonte. As reported on this website starting on Wednesday, 25 July 2012, it was discovered early last week that the ANATI had issued - for free - title on a parcel of land measuring 9,381 square meters. ANATI issued free title on that land to a newly created Panamanian company called Puntabeach Interprises S.A. on 7 October 2011, through Resolution Number 329. In one of the last acts committed in office by Anabelle Villamonte - after the Juan Hombron scandal had broken in the press and before she left office, she signed off on these land titles which potentially affect as many as 64 land owners, all along the Southern side of the Punta Chame peninsula. This morning the Director of the ANATI assured me they would be issuing a "marginal" (freeze) on all five parcels of land "before noon today" - which will be registered in the Public Registry. This will prevent these parcels of land from being sold or transferred in any way, as the investigation into this case goes forward. And, I learned a bunch of other new details during the meeting this morning as well.

Executive Summary - Bottom Line Up Front: The government of Panama will be taking every required action to reverse the granting of these titles, to take the land away from those who apparently acquired their rights illegally through fraud, corruption, and abuse of office, and the land in question will be returned to state. The owners of the existing "beachfront" lots - some of whom have owned this titled land for twenty to thirty years - will be given first priority and the opportunity to obtain first Rights of Possession over these lands, and eventually title, through the ANATI under Law 80. The ANATI is conducting their own internal investigation, and the results of that investigation will be turned over to the prosecutors of the Public Ministry. The government of Panama clearly wants to "fix this" and "make it go away" as quickly as possible. They know it's deeply embarrassing. (more)

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Chame - Representatives Vote To Remove Municipal Treasurer From Office

Corruption Because the mayor of Chame, Euclid Mayorga, did not present the application of the new municipal treasurer, the elected representatives from this district voted to remove the treasurer Danilo Vega Cortes from his position. As a consequence, they cannot endorse checks or make payments through the municipal treasury, and said the President of the Chame Council, Abdul Juliao. Meanwhile Mayorga, by telephone, said the treasurer Danilo Vega Cortes continues in his post and he denied any irregularities in his administration. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Interesting. All of a sudden there's infighting among the low level, local government officials in the District of Chame. Apparently the local Mayor Euclid Mayorga wants to keep the Treasurer Danilo Vega Cortes in office, and meanwhile other local elected representatives are trying to throw Danilo Vega Cortes out of office. Might any of this stuff be related to the land grab in Punta Chame in any way? I have no idea. I did notice, however, that the Panama America newspaper didn't say a word - not a peep - about the breaking scandal in Punta Chame. Their silence speaks volumes about who might actually be responsible for this land grab. It's a pretty simple equation - whatever news media is attacking the issue is not responsible. Whoever is defending or ignoring will indicate the political party of the people who are responsible. So far, La Prensa (Panameñistas) are on the attack, while the Panama America (CD) is silent. Like I said, sometimes the silence is deafening.

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Punta Chame - Another Case Of Land Titles

Corruption Four months sufficed for Puntabeach Interprises, SA to obtain free title on a parcel of land measuring 9,381 square meters in Punta Chame on Panama's Pacific coast, by Anabelle Villamonte, the former director of the Land Titling of the National Authority of Land Management (Anati). In Punta Chame, Villamonte reproduced the mechanism of the rapid titling processes used in John Hombrón, where land ownership was proven only with testimonies (witness statements). But that is not the only coincidence.

In both cases it appears the lawyer Marcelino Ramos Madrid played an important role. Ramos Madrid inscribed on June 23, 2011 Puntabeach Interprises, SA, the company that benefited by the titling of the land in Punta Chame. This is the same person who replaced Villamonte as the Papadimitriu family lawyer in the case of the lands of John Hombrón, as soon as she was appointed to the Anati. Ramos Madrid was the Director and Treasurer at the time Puntabeach Interprises SA was inscribed. However, 13 days after free land title was granted, and just as this newspaper (La Prensa) began publication of the John Hombrón case, he enrolled in the Public Registry his resignation to the positions.

Process - On October 7, 2011, four months after the creation of Puntabeach Interprises SA, Villamonte signed the resolution that granted free title for the 9,381 square meters of land. The land was given a rateable (tax) value of about $ 56,000 dollars - a $6 per square meter. However, as denounced by the director of internet portal Panama Guide, Don Winner, the land is now for sale for $1.5 million dollars.

Winner said yesterday during his participation in the channel 2 TVN morning news program, that the area titled by Villamonte is actually a sandbar between the sea and the land acquired in 2004 by another person who was surprised to see a fence that eliminated their front on the ocean. He added that consequently, it is impossible for anyone to have proven their rights of possession. However, the resolution of award signed by Villamonte says three people testified that Puntabeach Interprises SA had acquired their rights as owners of the land for over five years. The resolution adds that the certification of this possession occurred in the Corregiduría of Chame.

Winner added that he toured the area, and the fence between the sand and the land stretched all along the beach, so that probably there are other areas where Villamonte granted land titles using the same procedure of alleged possession rights. "There may be others affected," he said. On the topic, the current administrator Anati, Franklin Oduber, said the institution is conducting an investigation into the case because of a complaint from residents of the area.

For his part, the lawyer Ramos Madrid told this newspaper he was limited to managing the award using the documents provided by his client, who he did not identify. "No one objected to this application during the process that I did ... with all the documentation received from my client, this is consistent with all the requirements established in Law 80 of 2009," he added. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: These guys are slick. The lawyer Ramos Madrid is basically saying "I don't know anything, I just used the documents my client gave to me." And when he says no one objected - that's also a slick move, and here's why.

Rights of Possession 101: Normally if you want to obtain or acquire Rights of Possession from someone who actually has them, you have to obtain statements from all of the neighbors who border the land. The reason for this is simple - it's based on common sense. In any part of any rural area of Panama the people who "really" live there know who owns what. They make agreements that stretch over generations. You'll hear things like "Tuti owns that valley from the top of that hill right there down to this stream. Juancito has the other side of the stream, down to the beach, and back as far as that big tree. My land runs around behind Mariela's, next to Juancitos on this side, and as far as the beach. Everyone in the whole town knows this." These people have (actually) been living on and farming this land for 70 years. They all know one another. And, if someone wants to buy (acquire) the Rights of Possession from Mariela or whatever, they will go down to the office of the local Corregidor (Justice of the Peace) and swear out a statement to document the land ownership.

But, People Lie (Gasp!): With a system based on witness statements to certify land ownership, how hard to you think it would be to simply find any dude strolling down the street, to pay him a sum of money (don't know how much) in order for him to walk into the local office of the Corregidor (Justice of the Peace) and swear on a stake of bibles that "Juan" has been living on that strip of sand for the past five years. In short, there's more than an excellent chance that the "witnesses" were simply paid to lie. When they put these deals together, everyone is looking to cover their respective asses with "plausible deniability" - starting with the office of the "Corregidor" - and all the way up to Anabelle Villamonte - the person who actually granted the title.

  • The Corregidor will say (and probably testify in court) "How was I supposed to know? There were three people in my office who swore out statements, saying what they were saying was true. How was I supposed to know they might have been lying?"

  • The lawyer just said "How was I supposed to know there was something fishy going on? I just used the documents provided to me by my clients."

  • Anabelle Villamonte - in the ANATI Resolution Number 329 which granted the title of the land - quoted the witness statements and the process that was supposedly documented in the office of the Corregidor in Chame as the legal basis for making the grant. She can say "how was I supposed to know? I didn't do anything wrong or illegal. I followed the law. If there was a problem with those documents, it's not my fault."

Plausible Deniability - All The Way Up: So, who do you think will be held legally accountable if there are any legal charges or criminal investigations made into this case? I suspect the first people who will be arrested or charged will be the four witnesses who supposedly made statements saying the Rights of Possession were valid. Everyone else will hide behind high paid lawyers in Panama City, run for cover, and protect whoever was "really" behind all of this. Because, in order to pull off something like this, you have to spread around a whole lot of bribe money. People will take a risk if there's the potential for a great reward. Just ask any drug trafficker who's in prison because they got caught. "Why did you do it?" The money was great...

I Didn't Know About The Ramos Madrid Connection: The journalist from La Prensa Ereida Prieto-Barreiro picked that one up. I didn't think of going back to look at changes in the leadership of the company Puntabeach Interprises S.A.. And, I also didn't follow the details of the John Hombrón case closely enough to have recognized that connection, even if I had seen the name. So, my appearing on the TVN morning news broadcast yesterday achieved the desired impact. Now land owners in Punta Chame have "woken up" to the facts of what has been done there. Let's see what else comes shaking out of the tree.

About The Statement That "No One Complained" - More slickness conducted there. When these guys created the parcels of land, they were very careful to not create any neighbors. They inserted a 5 meter wide access between the old, existing plots of land to the North. So therefore, their "new" land does not officially border the old, titled, land. So therefore, there's no need to obtain a witness statement from them. Slick, eh? That's why no one complained. And of course the lawyer Ramos Madrid knows this - that's why they did it that way. Literally NO ONE in Punta Chame knew these people had done this. They only broke their cover after President Ricardo Martinelli issued Executive Order 425, and they figured they had to hurry up and sell this land before anyone figured out what they had done. So they put up a fence, and that blew their cover. Not so slick afterall...

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Hector Jose Santos Rudas - Linked To Punta Chame Land Grab

Corruption By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I'm starting to analyze the various names and connections appearing in the documents I already have in order to determine who is "really" behind this massive land grab on the Southern side of Punta Chame. I've already been getting some "indirect" pointers from some political sources - some people already know who is behind this, but so far no one is ready to name names. People are thinking out loud and actively speculating - that's a nice way to put it. One name appearing repeatedly in this transaction is Hector Jose Santos Rudas. Basically, he's all over this stuff. Hector J. Santos was an active member of the Panameñista political party. According to this spreadsheet on file with the Electoral Tribunal in Panama, he is registered as a Convention Delegate For The "Panameñista Youth" from the province of Veraguas.

But, There's A Catch: I hate it when a perfectly good political conspiracy theory get's all shot to hell. Based on the images he's posted recently via Twitter, Hector Jose Santos Rudas is now an active member of the Cambio Democratico party. He helped to organize and set up the party the CD recently held on 1 July 2012 to celebrate their three years in power. So, this means at the time of the elections in 2009 Hector J. Santos was in the Panameñista party - but at some point in time he switched to the CD. He's in this photo with president Ricardo Martinelli and the President of the National Assembly Sergio Galvez. This photo was taken on 1 July 2012 at 4:29 pm.

He Worked For Anabelle Villamonte:

  • According to this document listing the employees of Panama's Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), Hector Jose Rudas Santos worked in the "Direccion de Catastro y Bienes Patrimoniales" (Office of Taxation and Patrimonial Property) in the "Despacho del Director de Catastro y Bienes Patrimoniales." (In The Office Of The Director). He was getting paid $1,200 per month salary. This document reflects his employment in August 2011. Now remember, the new ANATI had been created. Under the old structure, this office was under the MEF - but with the creation of the new ANATI this office became the new Director of Land Titling. In short, Hector Jose Rudas Santos was the Secretary for the Director - Lic. Anabelle Villamonte Murgas. Specifically, look at line number 99 of this payroll list document.

    Put The Calendar Into Political Context: Remember, the alliance between the Panameñista political party and the Cambio Democratico came to a crashing halt on 30 August 2011. So, it's highly likely the young Panameñista political activist got himself a job working for the MEF in the office of Cadastro (Tax) - which then later became the ANATI. At some point in time he switched from the Panameñistas to the CD.

    Land Plan Accepted And Registered: On Friday, 7 October 2011, the ANATI accepted and registered the plan for the land in Punta Chame, as ordered in the memo issued by Lic. Anabelle Villamonte "ANATI-DNTR-DDN-1549" dated 5 October 2011. His name, Hector J. Santos R. with his Cedula number, is hand written on the plan itself.

    Land Title Issued By ANATI: On the very same day, Friday, 7 October 2011, Hector Jose Santos Rudas signed ANATI Resolution Number 329 as Anabelle Villamonte's Secretary. The document bears his signature.

    Title Deed Registered: On Friday, 14 October 2011 at 4:49 pm, Hector Santos personally registered the land title deed issued by the National Authority of Land Administration (ANATI) through Resolution Number 329 of 7 October 2011 in the Public Registry.

    So, There's One Guy To Talk To: It's fairly obvious based on this documentation that the young Hector J. Santos R. will have a pretty good idea of what happened out there in Punta Chame. Let's see. What else...

    Interesting: Remember back a couple of weeks ago when the three TVN journalists were being hauled to court because they had the balls (gasp) to report on a corrupt police officer who was caught on video tape accepting a cash bribe in order to avoid a traffic ticket? Well, this guy Hector Jose Santos Rudas issued several Tweets - indicating that, in his opinion, it is not the role of a journalist to investigate anything. According to him journalists should not investigate anything, only inform. He thought the three journalists should have been found guilty in court. I wonder what his reaction will be to his article? Talk about irony, eh? Maybe there is a reason why he doesn't want journalists in Panama to be able to - what's a good word - research shit? I call in "analysis." You can pick your own lexicon...

    Complaints Being Prepared Right Now: I understand on Monday morning the lawyers representing the American landowner who contacted me in the first place will be filing their criminal complaints in this case. I expect there are a whole lot of people who are scrambling for position or cover - the news has already broken in the Panamanian press. So now, it will all fall to the lawyers and the prosecutors and the judges to figure it out. Good for them. Hey, I'm just informing, Hector...

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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    Land Grab In Punta Chame Panama - A Walk On The Beach - Documenting New Fences on Video

    CorruptionBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I went to Punta Chame yesterday morning. I wanted to see for myself the land the former Director of Land Titles of the National Land Authority (ANATI) Anabelle Villamonte gave away. Through ANATI Resolution 329 dated 7 October 2011, Anabelle Villamonte gave away - for free - a parcel of land measuring 9,381 square meters to a newly formed company called Puntabeach Interprises S.A.. This parcel of land is located between existing, titled "beach front" lots of land, and the ocean. That is to say, the people who already own "beach front" land in Punta Chame hold title to their land that was granted many years ago. These title clearly say that their Southern boundary is the Pacific Ocean. I published the first article about this situation two days ago, on Wednesday, 25 July 2012. Yesterday I drove up there to confirm a few things with my own eyes, to shoot some video, and to ask some questions. This morning I appeared on the channel 2 TVN morning news broadcast. So, at this point you can consider the cat to be well out of the bag. The word is spreading quickly, and people will become aware of what happened. And of course my investigation will continue. (more)
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    Another Scandal Over Land Titles - This Time In Punta Chame

    CorruptionAnabelle Villamonte, the former Director of Land Titling of the National Land Authority (ANATI) appears in another alleged land scandal, but this time in Punta Chame, as denounced today on the channel 2 TVN morning news broadcast by Don Winner, the editor of the www.panama-guide.com website. According to Winner, Villamonte gave free title to land to a company called Puntabeach Interprise, lots that formed naturally with sand banks, after the company created plans and found people to say their were the residents, in order to buy the Rights of Possession. Supposedly there was a resolution from the Corregiduría (Justice of the Peace) in Chame on the purchase. The resolution is dated 7 October 2011.

    Winner said the scandal was discovered just two days ago when an American citizen, the owner of two lots on the South side of Punta Chame, was trying to sell one of his properties and a potential client came to see the land. According to Winner, the land was no longer limited on the South side by the sea - meaning the owner had access to the sea - but to everyone's surprise, there was a fence and an additional lot, which had formed naturally with banks of sand.

    In investigating the matter, it was discovered, Winner explains further that the newly discovered lot, measuring 9,381 square meters, is being offered for sale on the Internet for $1.5 million dollars. Winner warns there are other lots in this same situation along the entire beach of Punta Chame.

    The editor www.panama-guide.com was the first to report the disappearance of Americans in Bocas del Toro, killings to which William Dathan Holbert (also known as "Wild Bill) later confessed, who remains in prison in Chiriqui. (TVN)

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    Italy Will Cooperate With Panama In Lavitola Bribery Investigation

    CorruptionThe justice system in Italy agreed to send to Panama evidence on the investigation into the Italian businessman Valter Lavítola for the crime of international corruption, after the alleged payment of bribes to Panamanian public servants. This was confirmed by the Italian judicial authorities to Panama's Attorney General Jose Ayu Prado, who made ​​a trip to that country between 9 and 13 July 2012.

    Public Ministry sources told this newspaper that the office of the prosecutor of Naples, which is investigating Lavítola, has accepted the request for legal assistance presented by his Panamanian counterpart last April. In response they have promised to provide the evidence collected against Lavitola in the investigation, which began last September 2011, to the Panamanian authorities.

    This request for judicial assistance is part of the investigation Ayu Prado opened last May into the alleged payment of bribes to Panamanian officials, which supposedly took place in 2010, in the midst of a negotiation between the Ministry of Government and the company Svemark for the construction of modular prisons in the country.

    Roxana Mendez, who was the Minister of Government at the time, and who is now the Mayor of Panama City, and other government officials including President Ricardo Martinelli, have denied the payment of those bribes.

    Lavítola, who was instrumental in the negotiations between Panama and the Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica for the $250 million contract to buy radars, helicopters, and digital mapping serves, is in prison in Italy and awaiting trial on this case. (Prensa)

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    Papadimitriu Says His Resignation Didn't Have Anything To Do With Juan Hombron

    CorruptionAfter leaving the hospital today, Friday July 20, the former Minister of the Presidency, Demetriu Papadimitriu, broke his silence and explained the reasons for his resignation submitted on 13 July. Papadimitriu, who was replaced by Roberto Henriquez, told RPC Radio his departure from the government had nothing to do with the case of the lands of Juan Hombrón, and that he resigned for personal reasons. He still has not said why he decided to resign by sending the letter to a local newspaper. "I left because of a personal matter. Resigned, I quit, and I'm not going back," reiterated the former Minister of the Presidency.

    He added from now on will be more concerned for his health, and denied the problem of his blood pressure is associated with any disease, because he underwent several tests to rule out this possibility. According Papadimitriu, the recommendations given by the doctors were to lose weight and eat a balanced diet.

    He also said he has had contact with representatives from the National Chamber of Transport (Canatra) and he will verify that the Metro Bus project complies with what he promised. He was behind the implementation of this transportation system that replaced the "red devils". Papadinitrui was hospitalized on Wednesday 18. (Panama America)

    Editor's Comment: Yeah. Sure. We believe you. Nothing at all to do with Juan Hombron. Gotcha... Here's my analysis; Ricardo Martinelli simply had to issue that executive order to "kill" the Juan Hombron scandal, mostly for political reasons. This act screwed Papadimitriu's family out of potentially millions of dollars. He resigned in a huff, then was hospitalized due to the stress of the situation - torn between his commitments to his family and Martinelli. Now, upon leaving the hospital, he denies any connection. Err, bullshit.

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