Site Meter
Send Us An Email
Panama Guide

Welcome to Panama Guide
Tuesday, March 03 2015 @ 11:31 AM EST

View Printable Version

Hugo Torrijos - "I Will Not Make A Statement Against Ernesto Perez Balladares"

Corruption By Julio Alfaro for La Estrella - Hugo Torrijos waited calmly in his office in Panama Maritime. He looked very sure of what he would say on the subject of the PECC investigation. Q: What do you have to say regarding having to go to the United States to make a statement in relation to an investigation involving former Panamanian president Ernesto Perez Balladares? A: It is completely untrue that I said I would testify against former president Perez Balladares. I have no idea if the United States has an interest in him, or if they have an interest in me. Q: Therefore, you don't know if there is any kind of an investigation open in this regard? A: I don't know if apart from the Americans who were mentioned in the PECC bribery case, if there is any ongoing investigation or one that will be opened against any Panamanian; in fact, the law that was cited as having been violated was the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which does not apply to foreigners, it only applies to Americans. Q: And do you know if there has been any kind of an investigation opened against any Panamanian related to this case in the United States? A: No, I reiterate that I do not have any way of knowing or to determine if they have opened or intend to open an investigation in this regard. (more) (See Comments)

Related Articles:

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Panama City Mayor To Be Charged With Embezzlement

CorruptionBy Jose Otero for La Prensa - The Mayor of Panama City, Bosco Vallarino, will be investigated this week by the Second Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, for the alleged crime of embezzlement, in the case related to a check for $4,000 dollars issued in the name of his wife, Annabel, last August. Judicial sources said Vallarino refused to accept the notification of a subpoena to appear for questioning, refusing to receive the clerk from the prosecutor's office saying he was in an important meeting. Accordingly, the subpoena was delivered to Vallarino's private secretary. It was also reported that following the questioning, prosecutor Ramsés Barrera could order the Mayor's removal from office. This investigation was initiated after the Comptroller General rejected a check authorized by Vallarino for his wife to pay travel expenses for a trip to Taiwan last September. The Comptroller rejected the document because the recipient was not a public servant. La Prensa attempted to contract Vallarino via telephone but he did not answer the calls.
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Parlacen Members Oppose Panama's Departure (No Surprise There)

Corruption By Yureth Paredes for La Estrella - Deputies from the PARLACEN oppose Panama's departure from this Central American organization, among them Dorindo Cortez who said on Telemetro Reporta - "they say that the Parlacen only generates expenses, because nothing has been said of the fact that Panama has been enhanced with the integration of the countries Central America, with agreements with the European Union." Cortez added that no country that is part of an international treaty can leave that agreement based on the internal laws of the country, which is why she does not discard the possibility that Panama might be faced with a claim of unconstitutionality. Meanwhile, Panama's Vice President and Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Varela said that Panama has spent more than $8.5 million dollars in just the past five years on the Parlacen, for salaries, allowances, and operating expenses. (Editor's Comment: The Parlacen was established partly as a place where former presidents of corrupt Central American countries could hide from prosecution in their home countries. All of the current sitting members of the Parlacen enjoy immunity from prosecution, and they all know that Panama's departure weakens the overall validity of the entire Parlacen concept. On this case, I agree completely with Martinelli. It's a complete and total waste of time and money. And, leaving the Parlacen is widely popular among the common Panamanian people, who have never received any benefit from the tax dollars spent there.)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Municipality Report Delivered to Comptroller's Office

CorruptionBy Zelideth Cortez for La Critica - The Municipal Treasurer of Panama City, Hemerardo Martinez, delivered to the Comptroller of the Republic all of the documentation intended to support the contracts let as part of the Christmas Villages project. Panama City Mayor Bosco Vallarino did not respond to the summons issued by the Comptroller, but Martinez said he delivered a note of explanation. The Director of Tax Administration, María Olimpia de Obaldía, explained that during the past five years of the previous administration they let 285 direct contracts, and in the past two and a half years since the arrival of Carlos Vallarino as the Comptroller, they let 151 direct contracts. de Obaldia said the current administration is pleased with the presence of the auditors, but clarified that it would be good for the public to understand that when an administration is new, there are processes and purchases that cannot be made by following the procedures for a public bidding process because if they don't do it via direct contract it would not get done. Meanwhile, the director of Management Services, Abelardo Munoz, said that all formalities have been conducted with the participation of officials from the Comptroller's office, and he said the process is being done in a transparent manner, but he fears the Christmas celebrations of the Panamanian people might be endangered. (Editor's Comment: There is a big scandal brewing over money spent by Bosco Vallarino in the Mayor's office on the upcoming Christmas celebrations in Panama City. The task of organizing and executing the Christmas Parade has always fallen to the Mayor's office. This year Bosco Vallarino decided to put on "Christmas Villages" on the Cinta Costera (Balboa Ave expansion) instead, and the contracts they let to several companies to do the work and build the decorations or what have you are being audited.)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Guy Fined $80 For Recording A Video Of A Street Fight On His Cell Phone in Panama

CorruptionTVN Noticias - The policemen who have been accused of abuse of authority for forbidding a citizen to record a fight between two women on his cell phone could be sanctioned by their higher authorities if it is determined they committed any violations of police regulations. The case was referred last Friday when Ricardo Flores recorded a street fight on his cell phone but he was stopped by police officers who said he could not record the scene because he was not a journalist. Flores was arrested and taken to night court where he was fined $80 dollars, and he later denounced on TVN News that he was never given a receipt for the alleged misconduct. (Editor's Comment: Click on this link to see the video of the cop making an ass of himself. He basically says "Who are you? Are you a journalist? This isn't some kind of "ringside" spectacle. Recording video on your cell phone is a crime, it's prohibited. Now sit there and you're going to see what happens to you when we take you in. You're not a reporter or a journalist so therefore you're not authorized to do that." Bullshit. This is exactly the kind of police abuse that has to be stopped. I get the "who the hell are you" crap from police officers all the time when I show up at a crime scene, and normally they shut the hell up once I identify myself, but in reality it's a public space and there are no laws against snapping photos or recording video anywhere in public, as far as I know.)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

David Murcia Will Show Incriminating Videos In Due Time (In The US)

Corruption By Denise Lara for Telemetro Reporta - This, according to Carlos Pérez Herrera and Ronier Ortiz, lawyers who are working for David Murcia in Panama, who remains in jail in Colombia on charges of illegally raising funds and money laundering. According to Murcia's lawyers, his recently approved extradition to the U.S. represents the perfect opportunity to present all of the evidence he holds, including the videos of the meetings he held with several Panamanian politicians, an issue that generated controversy leading up to the elections of 3 May 2009. When questioned why Murcia did not simply turn over the videos from the start, they responded saying: "One does not fire at full blast, one has to fire slowly over time, said Ortiz, while Henderson said "what Murcia is going to do will be historical ... he will go there (to the United States) and turn over all of the information ... do you know how this will be handled in the United States?" (Editor's Comment: David Murcia had a "safe house" in Bogota where he had stashed large amounts of money and other valuables, as well as his "get out of jail free" evidence. He was a fanatic for recording everything three angles, video, audio, the works. Once he figured out that he was completely and totally screwed in Colombia, he turned all of that over to US authorities who spirited it out of Colombia in the middle of the night. They have had these videos already, and they got them a long time ago. Somebody say "cheese".)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Prosecutor Might Toss Out Doens Case (For Being Bullshit)

Corruption By JOSEPH OTERO for La Prensa - So far, the allegations made by the the Secretary General of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), Mitchell Doens, on alleged corruption in the current government are unfounded. Yesterday, Panama's Third Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, April Arosemena said she does not rule out the possibility of formally closing the file that was opened last week, after the public accusations made by the PRD leader. Arosemena said she has already taken the sworn statement from the businessman indicated by Doens - whose name has been reserved - as the person who told him that local entrepreneurs received political pressures in exchange for contracts with the state. The businessman, said the prosecutor, stated that he has not held any discussions with Doens on this topic, and that he has never received any pressure from the Government to maintain the contracts he has had with the state from the past 16 years. The prosecutor added that they also have been unable to prove any of the other allegations made by Doens over the alleged illegal extraction of sand. Consequently, she added, she does not rule out the closure of these files. Finally, the official explained that Doens cannot be cited for having made a false complaint or for having given false testimony, because the politician did not make his statements before a judicial authority, but rather on a television interview. The prosecutor was referring to the same television program in which Doens spoke about the existence of an alleged report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) that established the relationship of current Cabinet members to cases of money laundering. This week, Doens was required to deliver the document, which turned out to be a simple copy without a signature of the person responsible or official seals. Representatives of the United States Embassy in Panama said they were unaware of the document.
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Panama's Comptroller Will Audit "Christmas Village"

Corruption By Denise Lara for Telemetro - On Thursday afternoon the Comptroller General of the Republic, Carlos Vallarino, ordered an audit of the "Christmas Village" being organized by the Mayor of Panama City, Bosco Vallarino, as well as any other pending contracts that have been issued since 1 October 2009. The Mayor was notified through a letter of this order, which could also include the names of the officials that will be audited, as well as any testimony or inspections that might be required.
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Anti-Corruption Czar Denounces Irregularities in the MOP

Corruption Panama America - Panama's Anti Corruption Czar, Fernando Núñez Fábrega, denounced irregularities in the former administration of the Ministry of Public Works (MOP) over the assignment of a contract for the rehabilitation of a road Puerto Lara, in Panama's Darien province, that was assigned to the companies Construcción Civiles Generales e Interventorías y Estudios Técnicos S.A.. Fabrega Núñez blamed the former National Director if Inspections of the MOP, Adriano Ferrer, for the irregularities. He added the work has not been completed, causing the $1.2 million dollar performance bond to expire. He said irregularities have occurred in other contracts awarded by the MOP causing damages to the state totaling more than $5 million dollars.
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Panama Will Seek Cooperation With The US on PECC Case

CorruptionBy Kathyria Caicedo for Telemetro: The United States is investigating Ports Engineering & Consultants Ltd. (PECC) case, therefore cooperation will be sought, according to Ana Matilde Gomez, Panama's Attorney General. With this material the office of the Attorney General seeks to advance the investigations being made by Panama in connection to allegations against former President Ernesto Pérez Balladares and former officials of his Government.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Attorney General Opens Investigation Into PECC Corruption Case

CorruptionBy SANTIAGO Fascetto for La Prensa - The Public Ministry opened an official investigation yesterday after the former president of the Ports Engineering & Consultants Corp. (PECC) Charles Jumet admitted before the justice system of the United States of having paid bribes in order to obtain a concession from the government in 1997, during the administration of Ernesto Pérez Balladares. Jumet testified before a U.S. judge that he paid bribes to three senior officials to obtain a contract with the now defunct National Port Authority (APN) to provide services to aid ship navigation. Following Jumet's revelations, the Third Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, under Abril Arosemena, opened a file to verify the possibility of the existence of "crimes against the public administration." This was announced by Panama's Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez. To move forward with the investigation, prosecutors will request international judicial assistance from the U.S. authorities. The prosecutor could even Even the prosecutor could travel to that country to meet with their colleagues who conducted the investigation there. Jumet's testimony points to three politicians to whom he paid bribes; Perez Balladares, Hugo Torrijos, and Ruben Reyna. The last two were the administrator and deputy administrator, respectively, of the NAPN when it signed the concession. The trio categorically rejected Jumet's confession. This will not be the first time Panamanian prosecutors and their US counterparts cooperate on the PECC case. On 19 March 2007 Gómez and her team of prosecutors began to cooperate with the investigation that was opened against PECC - in Virgina - for corrupt practices abroad. In April 2007, the First Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office sent four CDs with the contents of the case against PECC in Panama. He also referred, months later, additional documents on microfilm.
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Alberto Vallarino appears in supposed DEA documents

CorruptionBy Yureth Paredes for La Estrella - The Secretary General of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), Mitchell Does, upon leaving the Public Ministry (MP) told the media that the documents he submitted to the Attorney General contain the name of Alberto Vallarino, who at the time was acting as the President of the Grupo Banistmo Capital, a bank that was being investigated for the crime of money laundering. Doens read a press release stating that the current Minister of Economy and Finance, Alberto Vallarino, appears in the referenced report from the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as the President of Banistmo. "Following the reading, it falls to the Public Prosecutor to conduct the investigation on the document and the legal and criminal responsibility arising," said Doens. The Secretary General of the PRD said the DEA report was sent to the offices of the PRD several weeks ago, and then later they made contact with Costa Rica and through open source information it became known that several of the banks mentioned in the report were closed by the authorities of that country and that some of those involved are in prison, paying for their offenses.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Doens Amplifies Complaint Before Anti Corruption Prosecutor

CorruptionBy Kathyria Caicedo for Telemetro - In view of the allegations made by Mitchell Doens, the Secretary General of the PRD, the 3rd Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office opened an official investigation. After presenting a DEA report, which mentions Grupo Banistmo Capital S.A., Doens made a sworn statement to the prosecutor to amplify his complaint. When the DEA report was issued, Banistmo was led by Alberto Vallarino, the Minister of Economy and Finance. The same DEA report also listed several banks in Costa Rica, which according to Doens were closed in the incident and there were several arrests.
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

"PECC Was Created to Steal Taxes"

CorruptionBy SANTIAGO Fascetto for La Prensa - The former Comptroller Alvin Weeden said yesterday that the company Ports Engineering and Consultants Ltd. (ECCP) was created to "steal tax money" from the State. He accused, by first and last name, those politicians who benefited with the money generated by the company: Hugo Torrijos, Rubén Reyna and Ernesto Pérez Balladares. "The purpose [of PECC] was to steal tax money, they saw that it was generating $3 million dollars per year and operating expenses were only $400,000 per year. It was business," said the former official in conversation with La Prensa. In 1997 PECC signed a contract with the now defunct National Port Authority (APN) to assist in the navigation of ships arriving in Panamanian waters. Hugo Torrijos was the administrator of the APN, and Ruben Reyna was the deputy, during the administration of Perez Balladares. Weeden was tasked to carry out, in his position as the Comptroller General of the Republic, an investigation into the alleged damage to the State, which resulted in the exposure of the complex network of companies, businessmen, and politicians who were behind the PECC. "They were so cynical that they didn't even buy furniture or anything, they just used the furniture of the APN, and the Lighthouses and Buoys Section of the APN was passed to the PECC," he said. Now, the former President of PECC, Charles Jumet, confessed to the US Justice System that he paid bribes to Panamanian officials to finalize the agreement. Weeden said of the investigation in the U.S., that he collaborated with official of the justice system there, and even traveled to the United States to help investigators. In Panama, however, the court process was not successful even though, according Weeden - the respective justice systems of the two countries had the same documentation in the case.
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Former President of PECC Admits to Paying Bribes

CorruptionBy SANTIAGO Fascetto for La Prensa - The former president of Ports Engineering & Consultants Corp. (PECC), Charles Jumet, yesterday pleaded guilty before a U.S. judge of having bribed senior Panamanian officials to obtain a contract with the now defunct National Port Authority in 1997. According to court documents, Jumet was involved in a conspiracy to pay money secretly to Panamanian government officials for awarding PECC contracts to maintain lighthouses and buoys along Panama’s waterway," said a statement released yesterday by the U.S. Justice Department. In 1997, during the administration of Ernesto Pérez Balladares (1994-1999), the National Port Authority gave PECC a direct concession to assist the navigation of ships arriving in Panamanian waters. At that moment, Hugo Torrijos held the position of Administrator and Rubén Reyna held the post of Deputy Administrator. The contract gave 90% of the business income to PECC, for a service that was previously in the hands of the state. In December 1997 the company paid dividends. One of the payments was for $18,000 dollars and was made with a cashier's check made out to bearer, that was later deposited into a bank account of Perez Balladares. The former president denied, in 2003, being a shareholder in PECC and he said the $18,000 dollars was a campaign donation from Jumet for his failed campaign for reelection.

Jumet, before U.S. justice authorities, admitted having lied at first to federal agents about the fate of those $18,000 dollars. According to the Justice Department statement, Jumet acknowledged he had misrepresented that the check for the dividend payment was a donation to the reelection campaign of a "former, high-ranking elected executive official."

According to the press release, Jumet admitted that the dividend payment check was given to the "former, high-ranking elected executive official" as a bribe to sign the contract with the Government. Jumet gave this statement to the judge in Richmond (Virginia) Dennis W. Dohnal, who was conducting an investigation into alleged illegal payments of PECC in Panama, in open violation of a U.S. law that prohibits US companies from paying bribes abroad.

PECC, a Panamanian corporation, was associated with Overman Associates, an engineering firm based in Virginia. "In connection with his guilty plea, Jumet admitted that from at least 1997 through approximately July 2003, he and others conspired to make corrupt payments totaling more than $200,000 to the former administrator and deputy administrator of Panama’s National Maritime Ports Authority and to a former, high-ranking elected executive official of the Republic of Panama," said the press release. The press release went on to say that as part of his plea agreement, Jumet has agreed to cooperate with the Department of Justice in its ongoing investigation.

La Prensa paper could not get a reaction from Perez Balladares, although he communicated with his spokeswoman, Catia Rojas. Reyna could not be reached, while Torrijos did speak. He said he always cooperated with the U.S. justice and that was the only official who appointed lawyers in the process four years ago. "I gave them plenty of documents," he said, adding he would not rule out traveling to the United States if requested by the judge.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Virginia Resident Pleads Guilty to Bribing Panamanian Officials for Maritime Contract

Corruption US Justice Department - WASHINGTON – Charles Paul Edward Jumet of Fluvanna County, Va., pleaded guilty today in connection with his role in a conspiracy to pay bribes to Panamanian government officials to secure a maritime contract, announced Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride, Joseph Persichini Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Jennifer Smith Love, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office and James A. Dinkins, Special Agent-in-Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Office of Investigation, Washington. Jumet, 53, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis W. Dohnal in Richmond, Va., to a two-count information charging him with conspiring to make corrupt payments to foreign government officials for the purpose of securing business for Ports Engineering Consultants Corporation (PECC) in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA); and making a false statement.

PECC, a company incorporated under the laws of Panama, was affiliated with Overman Associates, an engineering firm based in Virginia Beach, Va. According to Jumet’s plea, PECC was created so Jumet, Overman Associates and others could corruptly obtain a maritime contract from the Panamanian government.

According to court documents, Jumet was involved in a conspiracy to pay money secretly to Panamanian government officials for awarding PECC contracts to maintain lighthouses and buoys along Panama’s waterway. In December 1997, the Panamanian government awarded PECC a no-bid, 20-year concession to perform these duties. In exchange for the concession, Jumet and others authorized corrupt payments to the Panamanian government officials.

In 2000, Panama’s Comptroller General’s Office suspended the contract while it investigated the government’s decision to award PECC a contract without soliciting any bids from other firms. In 2003, the Panama government resumed making payments to PECC.

In connection with his guilty plea, Jumet admitted that from at least 1997 through approximately July 2003, he and others conspired to make corrupt payments totaling more than $200,000 to the former administrator and deputy administrator of Panama’s National Maritime Ports Authority and to a former, high-ranking elected executive official of the Republic of Panama.

In his guilty plea, Jumet also admitted that he knowingly made a false statement to federal agents about a December 1997 "dividend" check payable to the bearer in the amount of $18,000, which was endorsed and deposited into an account belonging to the former, high-ranking elected executive official. Jumet admitted that he had falsely claimed that this "dividend" check was a donation for the high-ranking official’s re-election campaign. Jumet also admitted that the "dividend" check was in fact given to the former official as a corrupt payment for allowing PECC to receive the contract from the Panamanian government.

As part of his plea agreement, Jumet has agreed to cooperate with the Department of Justice in its ongoing investigation. The conspiracy count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the scheme. The false statement count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 12, 2010.

The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Rina Tucker Harris of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Dry of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. The case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the FBI’s Richmond Field Office and ICE’s Office of Investigation, Richmond and Washington.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Va. man pleads guilty to Panama bribes

CorruptionRICHMOND, Va. - A Virginia man has pleaded guilty to bribing Panamanian government officials to obtain a contract for maintenance of lighthouses and buoys. Federal prosecutors said Friday that 53-year-old Charles Paul Edward Jumet of Fluvanna County pleaded guilty to conspiring to make corrupt payments to foreign government officials and making a false statement. Each count is punishable by five years in prison. Sentencing is Feb. 12. According to court documents, in 1997 Panama awarded a no-bid, 20-year contract to Ports Engineering Consultants Corp., which was affiliated with a Virginia Beach firm, Overman Associates. Jumet, an executive of the companies, admitted that he and others paid more than $200,000 in bribes to Panamanian officials to secure the contract. The other conspirators and the Panamanian officials were not named in court documents.
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Government Seizes Figali's Property on Ft. Amador For Failure To Pay Debt

Corruption El Siglo - The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) issued an order against the administration of the company Grupo F Internacional S.A. to seize property on Ft. Amador because the company has not complied with the agreement it signed with the Panamanian government. The order was issued by the Executing Judge of the Administrative Unit of Reverted Properties of the MEF, Raul Taboada, citing breach of payment for an agreement the government entered into with the company, and the presentation of a performance bond on which the project is developed in the area of Amador. The company Grupo F. Internacional S.A. signed a contract Number 372-01 which allowed for the leasing, development, and investment of the property, under which they promised to repay the outstanding balance owed to the government for Basic Income and Infrastructure - and to make those payments within 12 months for the outstanding rent and within 24 months for the infrastructure. Figali signed the commitment after the government came in person to the company and imposed and ultimatum. Alberto Vallarino, Minister of MEF, has stated repeatedly companies who do not pay their commitments cause a very large negative impact for the population and the people of Panama, because that money enables the State to develop the many projects they have planned, especially social projects.
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Business Directors Linked To "El Toro" Called to Testify

Corruption By Grisel Bethancourt for La Critica - Six directors and officers of the company Shelf Holding Inc. and Pty Adventures Inc. have been called to make official statements starting tomorrow in the offices of Panama's Specialized Prosecutor Against Organized Crime. The prosecutor José Ayú Prado said in the investigations thus far the former president Ernesto Perez Balladares has not been called to make a statement. The prosecution is still waiting for a forensic audit report conducted by the Financial Investigation Section of the DIJ based on the unusual movements of money in three bank accounts detected by the Financial Analysis Unit. The investigation was based on companies linked to the former president which received funds from a company called Lucky Games, a company that in 1996, during the administration of Perez Balladares, received a concession to operate 500 slot machines. Thus far the office of Ayú Prado has conducted visual inspections in the Department of Revenue, Public Records, Social Security Fund, Civil Registry and Notaries. Recently, the 15th Judge Hilda Bonilla warned there could be a case of double jeopardy in the investigations being carried out by the Third Anticorruption Prosecutor and Ayu Prado, and requested that the two investigations be united. In any case, she said the charges for money laundering being investigated by the Anti Corruption Prosecutor should be declared null and the file closed, because in 1996 when the act occurred the criminal conduct - the laundering of money received from an irregularly awarded concession - was not properly regulated at that time and therefore she nullified the case and declared the case closed.
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

New Case Presented in School Fiberglass Scandal

Corruption By ARTURO CARLOS CASTILLO for La Estrella - Panama's Second Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, Ranses Barrera, said new evidence has been submitted against Belgis Castro, former education minister in the case involving the removal of fiberglass insulation from public schools. Barrera said the new evidence relates to schools in the province of Veraguas, and he added that the Comptroller General of the Republic is now gathering evidence and conducting inquiries. According to Barrera the case was referred last week. This is the seventh case file opened related to irregularities in the contracts to remove fiberglass insulation from public schools.
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Public Ministry Could Open Investigation Into Statements Made by Doens

CorruptionTVN Noticias - Following the statements made by the Secretary General of the PRD, Mitchell Doens on the program Diálogo, broadcast Sunday by TVN, the Public Ministry (MP) could initiate an official investigation, and to that end they have requested the videos of the program containing the accusations made by Doens. The Secretary of the PRD made certain allegations in which he mentions current government officials. According to Does, in the Cabinet "there are people linked to the laundering of drug money" and he even said that he "has reports from the DEA that will be used in due time." Panama's Second Anti Corruption prosecutor Ramses Barrera said he is waiting for the video which he will use to determine whether to begin an investigation of alleged corruption. The prosecutor said that because the alleged complaint involves the laundering of drug money that the anti drug prosecutor would have to open the investigation. (Editor's Comment: Like I said - dumb ass. Now they will open the investigation, call Doens in to testify, and make him produce these DEA reports that he allegedly has. Once the Public Ministry has them they will become public information, and we all can then see exactly what Doens was talking about. Now, was that so hard?)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Audit Ordered in SINAPROC Corruption Probe

CorruptionLa Critica - The Comptroller of the Republic, Carlos Vallarino, ordered an audit of the former administration of the National Civil Protection System (SINAPROC) over the irregular handling of $11,000 dollars having to do with a "self management fund" for the restaurant of this institution. The audit was ordered and will be conducted after the Anti Corruption Secretariat filed an official complaint with the Attorney General's Office. (Editor's Comment: Drip, drip, drip. The corruption complaints, investigations, and audits just keep coming, slowly but surely. The administration of Martin Torrijos was responsible for the management of about $40 billion dollars over five years. How much of that money do you think was stolen, misappropriated, lost, mismanaged, or moved offshore? No one knows, but the administration of Ricardo Martinelli will just keep looking and filing the complaints when they find a problem. If all of the PRD guys are either in jail or under investigation it will be very hard for them to challenge in 2014.)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Corruption Complaint Filed Against the CSS for Theft of Employer's Contribution

Corruption La Estrella - Employees from the private security company MIMSA SA went to the newsroom of Telemetro to make a rather peculiar complaint involving several crimes, including corruption within the Social Security Fund (CSS). According to complainants, since 2006 the company has not paid the required social security premiums, although the company has deducted the payments from the employee's salary, yet they continued to receive their cards as if the company was making the required payments. Recently the employees, suspicious of certain actions of the company, such as the closure of their primary office and their continued operation without a fixed based of operations, went to the CSS to check on the employers contributions that should have been made to their accounts, and they were able to learn through the documents and certifications from the CSS that the company has not paid the fees since 2006. The security guards who work for this company say that corrupt government officials working for the CSS acted in cooperation with the company to issue and deliver the cards even though the respective payments had not actually been made. The company - according to those making the complaint - is owned by Sergio Aguizola and María Mariño de Anguizola. The Administrator is Sergio Davis, who has told them that he does what he wants because he is a friend of President Martinelli. The security agents are being paid in cash by a messenger who delivers the money to their job locations; that they don't know where the company owners are, and they only receive communications via telephone. They also said the company has stolen from them discounts taken from their pay to supposedly pay for other financial responsibilities. The deputy director of the CSS promised to meet with those who are making the complaints today.
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Ernesto Perez Balladares Remains In Their Sights

Corruption By MONICA PALM for La Prensa - The ruling by the judge of the Fifteenth Criminal Court, Hilda Bonilla, who declared null and void all proceedings in the investigation being carried out by the Third Anti Corruption Prosecutor against former president Ernesto Perez Balladares for the offense of crimes against the public administration, does not "freeze" the investigation being carried out by the Special Prosecutor Against Organized Crime. This office, under the command of José Ayú Prado, is investigating the supposed laundering of money from the companies Pty Adventures Inc. y Shelf Holding Inc., the latter controlled by Perez Balladares. Both companies received money steadily from the gambling company Lucky Games. "The decision of the Fifteenth Criminal Court only involves the case being investigated by the Third Anti Corruption Prosecutor," headed by Yolanda Austin, said Ayú Prado. The prosecutor recalled that another criminal court - the Ninth - denied a request to have his case declared null and void and to halt the investigation into the alleged money laundering, which was filed by lawyers representing PTY Adventures Inc. However the lawyer says, "that's not true." He added that the case files being investigated by both Ayú Prado and Austin are "identical", which is why they are violating, according to him, Panamanian procedural law. He also asked Panama's Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez yesterday to "combine" the two files, and to keep the investigation in Austin's office. He did so knowing that Judge Bonilla had already ruled the proceedings of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor invalid.
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Yet Another Complaint Filed Against Ana Matilde Gomez

Corruption By ARTURO CARLOS CASTILLO for La Estrella - Yet another complaint was filed against Panama's Attorney General, Ana Matilde Gomez, before the Office of Administration, this time by the former Representative of the District of Chepo, Ismael Batista, who accuses her of having recorded his telephone conversations. Batista said the prosecutor, by means of a resolution, ordered his telephone conversations to be recorded for ten days, for allegedly receiving bribes. (Editor's Comment: When it rains, it pours. I don't know what the details are on these phone tap complaints yet - meaning I don't know why all of a sudden people are filing complaints saying Ana Matilde Gomez ordered the phone taps and why they never complained before. Obviously, they smell blood in the water and think she's in a weakened position. As I have said on several occasions, I think it's just a matter of time before she's either forced to resign or is removed from her post.)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

"They're Making Me Nervious" - Ana Matilde Gomez

Corruption By Grisel Bethancourt for La Critica - Ana Matilde Gomez reiterated she will not resign. The head of the Public Ministry, Ana Matilde Gomez, reiterated yesterday that she does not intend to resign, however, in some circles they are not ruling out the possibility that she might be removed from her position as part of an investigation being conducted by the Office of Administration into a wiretapping ordered in 2005 by the Assistant Prosecutor as part of an investigation against then prosecutor Arquímedes Sáez for allegedly accepting bribes. Gomez launched a television media campaign yesterday in her defense, saying she did not commit any crime and questioned how a person who has been called to trial for having received bribes (Archimedes Sáez) and another person who has been sentenced in Colombia (David Murcia), has placed the Attorney General in a position where she will have to defend herself in court. She said that "they intend to fish in troubled waters, but I hope that everything will be settled according to law, because I represent a Public Ministry that is firm and resolute in its conviction to prosecute crimes, no matter if they involve high-profile political figures from previous administrations or from the current government," Ana Matilde Gomez told TVN news. Gomez explained that her possible removal from office will depend on the decision taken by the Supreme Court in a request made by the prosecutor in charge of Administration, Nelson Rojas. The attorney acknowledged it would be very sad if she is removed, because under the rule of law, her actions do not merit such a measure of this type, which put democracy on edge and that work against the constitutionality. She said the current situation is causing her anxiety, but that she trusts in God that all will be resolved according to the rule of law. Gomez thinks it would be an attack against democracy if they use a decision of unconstitutionality, and if that decision is applied retroactively and then later used in a criminal action against her.
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Investigations of Ernesto Perez Balladares Continue

CorruptionBy SANTIAGO Fascetto for La Prensa - The judge of the Panama's Ninth Criminal Circuit Court, Annabella Jimenez, denied yesterday a request to halt the investigation into suspected money laundering which is being conducted by the Special Organized Crime Prosecutor Jose Ayú Prado into the companies Pty Adventures Inc. and Shelf Holding Inc., the latter controlled by former president Ernesto Pérez Balladares. In other words: Jiménez authorized the Attorney General to continue with the investigation. Shelf Holding Inc., which moved several million dollars through the local banking system in recent years, received money steadily from Lucky Games Ltd., a company that benefited from a direct concession to operate slot machine facilities granted by the administration of Ernesto Perez Balladares in 1996, as revealed by a series of reports published in La Prensa starting on 3 August 2009. The request to halt the investigation which was rejected by the deputy judge, was presented by Jose Maria Castillo, acting as a lawyer for the company Pty Adventures Inc. "What the judge has done is to decide that our request for invalidity is not appropriate," said Castillo, who contacted La Prensa after we requested a reaction from the spokeswoman for Perez Balladares, Catia Rojas. Castillo added that the judge recommended that the two cases that have been opened against the former president in the Public Ministry should be combined. "It is a guarantee (protection) that goes back 500 years, all the way to Cain," he added. The lawyer means that, besides the investigation into money laundering, the Third Anti-Corruption Prosecutor is investigating Perez Balladares for supposed offenses against the public administration. In this case, another deputy judge, Hilda Bonilla - who is in charge of the 15th Criminal Court - decreed the end to the criminal proceedings and closed the case. But in the case being investigated by Ayú Prado, Jimenez's ruling supports the investigation of money laundering, although the defense may appeal this decision to the Second Superior Tribunal. Perez Balladares is currently in Europe, said his spokeswoman, adding that the former president could return home in late November or early December.
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Posse: Minister tried to blackmail me

Corruption By Kathyria Caicedo for Telemetro - Luis Alejandro Posse shows a document underpinning several of his claims. The former manager of the Agricultural Development Bank, Luis Alejandro Posse, has launched a campaign to clear his name after being dismissed by the Minister of Agricultural Development, Victor Manuel Perez. Posse is being accused of giving a farm in the province of Chiriqui to an alleged fellow party member. Posse, however, denies that claim. During the morning newscast on Telemetro Reporta, Luis Alejandro Posse said the minister tried to blackmail him to resign and even threatened him. According to Posse's account, Victor Manuel Perez forced him to submit his resignation for having committed acts of corruption, and when Posse did not present his resignation he was fired. Posse is requesting that the Anti Corruption Secretary and the Attorney General's Office investigate the situation, as well as mismanagement on the part of the Minister, which he sustained with several supporting documents. The former manager of the Agricultural Development Bank had admitted there were several disagreements with Perez, which might have been due to jealousy the Minister felt for him due to his good relationship with the agricultural sector of Panama.
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

David Murcia Files New Complaint Filed Against Ana Matilde Gomez

Corruption By Jose Otero for La Prensa - A new criminal complaint against Panama's Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez will be presented before the Supreme Court, this time for the alleged commission of the offenses of theft of public documents and corruption of a public official. This, according to one of the lawyers defending Colombian David Murcia Guzmán, who was arrested in Panama in November 2008 and convicted in Colombia for massive fraud and the illegal collection of money. Ortiz explained that the complaint is also directed against the assistant prosecutor, Luis Martinez, the former Secretary General of the Public Ministry Rigoberto Gonzalez, the former head of the Directorate of Judicial Investigation (DIJ) José Ayú Prado; the Fourteenth Criminal Prosecutor, William Parodi, and the former director of Immigration Clovis Sinisterra. The lawsuit is based on the alleged concealment of 87 pages of the record of the capture of Murcia, which occurred on 19 November 2009. The lawyer says that in the file only two reports appear regarding Murica's arrest and capture that are numbered 88 and 89, and that the rest of the pages have disappeared. Ortiz said the officials lied when they stated Murcia was deported following legal procedures, because he was never taken to immigration after his capture. This is the complaint filed against Gomez, who also has another open procedure for abuse of authority.
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Posse Says He Will Not Remain Silent

Corruption Panama America - Alejandro Posse, the former manager of the Agricultural Development Bank who was fired last night by President Ricardo Martinelli, said he did not commit any act of corruption and that he will not remain silent as he did during the administration of Mireya Moscoso. Posse, who has been notified of his dismissal, explained that his presence in the National Assembly was to notify the Panameñista lawmakers of his position regarding the accusations being made against him for the supposed "irregularities" in an administration contract for a farm in the Chiriqui Province. The former official said that on Monday he will present the documentation that will serve to boost confidence in his actions, and that he would also explain to the country what he has already explained to the lawmakers of his party.
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks