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Sunday, September 24 2017 @ 01:05 AM EDT

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The FBI to Train Panamanian Anti-Corruption Squad

Corruption The FBI will be sending down a team of trainers to help the Public Ministry get up to speed on anti-corruption issues. They will be training a team consisting of police, analysts, accountants, auditors, and prosecutors to make up a specialized anti-corruption branch of the Panamanian government, according to the Second Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, Maribel Cornejo. This group will be tasked to provide immediate assistence and support for high-profile corruption cases.


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The PTJ is Being Investigated for Nepotism

Corruption The Technical Judicial Police (PTJ) is being investigated by the Panamanian Attorney General, Ana Matilde Gómez, for twenty cases of suspected nepotism. The director ot the PTJ, Jaime Jácome, responded in writing to the charges, saying that there have been some "administrative irregularities" but that the questionable appointments predate his administration. Gómez sent the request for information on 2 December of last year. They are investigation the positions and promotions of people who are married couples, brothers and sisters, cousins and friends. Jácome denied being responsible because all that happened before he took over.
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Flap over Dixon's Comments Continues

Corruption The newly appointed President of Panama's Supreme Court, Graciela Dixon, caused a big flap with the comments she made at her swearing-in ceremony. Dixon basically said she would only improve transparency if a "deal" was reached with the press to basically write only nice things about the court. Now the Executive Director of the Interamerican Press Society, Julio Muñoz, has rejected that offer as "unacceptable." "No one has the right to offer or negotiate free access to information" he said.
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Judge Dixon Scolds Press

Corruption The newly appointed President of Panama's Supreme Court, Judge Graciela Dixon, blamed the news media for the Panamanian Supreme Court's negative image. At her swearing in ceremony Dixon said there needs to be a "deal" with media outlets to halt the downward slide of the court's image. She basically scolded journalists at the conference, and blamed them for putting judges on trial. She accused a few (unnamed) individuals of using their position to manipulate the press.
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A New Foe Threatens Tribe's Independent Spirit

Corruption ACHUTUPO, Panama — After keeping the world at bay for five centuries, the Kuna Indians on Panama's unspoiled Caribbean coast now confront an insidious intruder: cocaine traffickers. The fiercely independent tribe inhabits Kuna Yala, a semiautonomous area that includes a coastal strip and the San Blas islands. The region is known mainly to foreign eco-tourists who can afford to get to its isolated white sand beaches. The Kuna have fought off incursions by Spanish conquistadors, rubber growers, gold miners and, most recently, tourism promoters who ply them with a steady stream of resort proposals.
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US Has "Substantial and Convincing" Evidence in Spadafora Case

Corruption According to the letter sent by the US embassy to the Panamanian government, the US has "substantial and convincing" evidence against Panamanian Supreme Court Justice Winston Spadafora. The US did not disclose the details of that information in their response, however. The US suggested that Panama should make use of the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaty signed between the two countries to gain access to all of the information the US holds with regards to Spadafora and corruption. And, of course the US is not just going to hand over all of the information they hold.
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US Explains Why it Cancelled Spadafora's Visa

Corruption The Embassy of the United States delivered a letter yesterday to the Panamanian Chancellery which explained why the US cancelled Spadafora's visa. A copy of the letter was delivered to Spadafora as well. On 30 November the US Embassy announced it had cancelled Spadafora's visa for alleged connecitons to corruption. The Chancellery had elevated a request to the North American embassy, asking for an explaination. Spadafora challenged the EU government provide proof of the supposed acts of corruption that were connected to him. (Editor's Comment: Now that he has them, why not make it public?)
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Assembly Members Ticked Off at Eaton

Corruption This is rich. The President of the National Assembly, Elías Castillo said US Ambassador William Eaton overstepped his limits when he said "the only form of judicial terrorism in Panama is corruption." This was in relation to the Credentials Commission's decision to close the case presented by civic groups against eight Supreme Court justices, and the decision by the US to cancel Winston Spadafora's visa. This is hilarious, considering where it's coming from. Two words, guys. Zak Hernandez.
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US Ambassador says US will turn over info on Spadafora

Corruption William Eaton, the US Ambassador to Panama, says that corruption within the system is the "judicial terrorism." Responding to remarks made by Supreme Court Justices José Troyano y Alberto Cigarruista, who qualified the US cancelation of Winston Spadafora's visa to the US as "judicial terrorism." Eaton said that of course there's corruption in Panama, and recognized that the government of Martin Torrijos is trying to do something about it. He also said that in the next few days the US will be turning over information it holds linking Spadafora to acts of corruption.
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Endara Calls for the Resignation of Supreme Court Justices

Corruption Ex-Panamanian president Guillermo Endara thinks all of the current Supreme Court Justices should resign. Endara categorically declared that "...the State Commission of Justice isn't going to do anything," referring to the most recent accusations of corruption bought against the Supreme Court Judges. Meanwhile, American businessman Arthur Marohl asked US Ambassador William Eaton to cancel the visas of Graciela Dixon and Aníbal Salas in consideration of the complaint he has filed against them with the Panamanian assembly. (Editor's Comment: This fight over the supreme court is going to come to a head soon. Everyone seems to be lining up against the sitting judges and in favor of sweeping the bench clear and starting over. The conventional wisdon says the judges now in position have been, without a doubt, involved in acts of corruption. And, the action of the US to cancel Winston Spadafora's visa was a clear signal of the US position to Martin Torrijos. "Green Light")
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Spadafora's Request for Details Reaches The US

Corruption Panamanian Supreme Court Justice Winston Spadafora's request for details surrounding the US's decision to cancel his visa to travel to the United States is now in the hands of the US embassy in Panama. Spadafora wants to know why the US pulled his visa, and according to US Embassy Spokesman William Ostick the US holds extensive information detailing Spadafora's connection to corruption and money launderers. The US cited an anti-corruption law when they pulled Spadafora's If the US does have extensive information connecting Spadafora to acts of corruption and money laundering, maybe the US can answer Spadafora's request for information by issuing an indictment for his arrest and issuing a request for extradition to Panama. Welcome to Miami. Meet your bunkmate, Manny...
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New Charges Presented Against Supreme Court Judges

Corruption Yesterday US businessman Arther Marohl presented a complaint to the Panamanian National Assembly against two supreme court justices, Graciela Dixon and Anibal Salas, alleging coverups, abuse of power, and for failing to due their jobs. Marohl had a case against the ex-director of the National Bank Bolivar Pariente, that the judges threw out. They buried the case against Pariente in just five days, even though the file contained more than 1,700 pages of evidence.
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US Sends a Strong Anti-Corruption Message

Corruption (La Prensa) The US sends a strong anti-corruption message to the government of Panama with the revocation of Supreme Court Justice Winston Spadafora's visa. According to William Ostick, spokesman for the US Embassy in Panama, the United States has "substancial information" about acts of corruption committed by Spadafora, but the only thing the US Government can do is pull his visa. "This guy (Spadafora) is not going to travel to the United States to enjoy the money he obtained through acts of corruption."
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"I'll Stay Until The Last Day" - Spadafora

Corruption (La Prensa) Panamanian Supreme Court Justice Winston Spadafora procaimed "I will stay until the last day" in facing recent allegations of corruption and having his Visa for travel to the United States revoked. The judge reiterated that he has not been formally charged with any crime or act of corruption. And according to Panamanian President Martin Torrijos, the problems with the justice system in Panama stem not from individuals but from the country itself. Spadafora requested an explaination from the US Embassy about the cancellation of his visa.
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U.S. accuses Panama judge of corruption, bars him

Corruption PANAMA CITY, Dec 1 (Reuters) - The U.S. government has accused a Panamanian Supreme Court judge of corruption and banned him from traveling to the United States. Supreme Court Magistrate Winston Spadafora's visa for travel was canceled "because of severe adverse effects on the national interests of the United States," William Ostick, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Panama, said on Thursday. He said the visa was revoked on Wednesday under anti-corruption laws and gave no further details. A Panamanian civic group, the Citizen's Alliance for Justice, last month asked the National Assembly to investigate Spadafora and seven of his colleagues.
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US Revokes Visa of Panamanian Supreme Court Judge

Corruption The United States State Department cancelled the visa of Panamanian Supreme Court Justice Winston Spadafora on Wednesday, shortly after members of Panama's national assembly voted to "file" (do nothing about) charges presented last week by civic groups. The State Department said they pulled Spadafora's visa because he was involved in corrpution. Spadafora joins a growing list of former members of Mireya Moscoso's government who can no longer travel to the United States. Ex-Presidente "El Toro" Balladares also had his visa pulled years ago, although the State Department never said why.
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Attorney General Fires Another District Attorney

Corruption Ana Matilde Gómez, Panama's Attorney General, has fired a total of thirteen District Attorneys to date in continued efforts to clean up and clear out established corruption in the legal system. The first twelve are all under investigation for wrongdoing. The most recent guy fired, Rolando Rodríguez, has been working for the Public Ministry for twenty one years, and this is the first case in which a DA has been fired but is not under a disciplinary or penal investigation. The AG can simply fire DA's at will (they work for her.) Ana Matilde Gómez has been in the lead on most of the Panamanian government's current efforts to clean up corruption at all levels. And, we've been told from several sources these efforts are more than just cosmetic. The Torrijos government really wants to make some headway into the endemic culture of institutionalized corruption that has plagued Panama for generations. Let's hope they are successful.
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"Official Disagreement" Over PECC Case

Corruption It seems like some parts of Panama's government want to close the PECC case, and other's want to keep it open. Panama's Comptroller General, Dani Kuzniecky, declared yesterday that his office has not closed its cases against the PECC. In a news conference yesterday Kuzniecky said he has two cases open against the Ports Engineering and Consultans Corp. (PECC). At the same time, the prosecutor and judge who declared "case closed" are sticking to their guns. The announcement of the Comptrollers office might help Ana Matilde Gómez's efforts to keep the case alive by taking it before the Supreme Court through the anti-corruption prosecutor. The appeal will be heard by Aníbal Salas, Graciela Dixon y Esmeralda de Troitiño, three judges also accused in a recent corruption scandal.


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National Assembly will examine charges "without haste"

Corruption We will have to wait at least two weeks to see if the congressmen who are members of the Credentials Commission of the National Assembly accept the new charges presented on Monday against eight Supreme Court justices. Freidi Torres, a PRD congressman and the President of the Credentials Commission explained the commission will examine the charges during the next 15 days. "We had already been notified by the Secretary General that they would be sending the denuncias in the afternoon hours (of yesterday, Tuesday) to the comission, so as to start the evaluation process of the evidence presented."
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Civic Organizations Denounce Eight Supreme Court Justices as Corrupt

Corruption Yesterday representatives from eighteen civic organizations presented documents to the Panamanian congress, detailing charges of corruption against eight sitting Supreme Court judges. Those judges named are Arturo Hoyos, Aníbal Salas, Alberto Cigarruista, Jacinto Cárdenas, Roberto González, Winston Spadafora, Graciela Dixon and José Troyano, charges with failing to comply with their responsibilities and failing to do their jobs.
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Corruption Case Against the PECC Shut Down

Corruption Just when it was starting to look like Panama was actually taking a turn for the better with regards to corruption, an important case involving power-players in the Panama's ruling PRD political party, the party of current president Martin Torrijos and ex-President Ernesto Balladares, was recently shut down. The Second Superior Court closed the case against regarding the PECC (Ports Engineering and Consultans Corp.) scandal, a case which involved directly Hugo Torrijos, Ernesto Balladares (indirectly) and a cast of others, charged with doing more than $15 million dollars in "damages against the state." The case was basically tossed out.
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There's $43 Million Dollars Missing from Drug Busts

Corruption Rosendo Miranda resigned from his position as one of Panama's anti-drug prosecutors, after having been suspended from his position by Panamanian Attorney General Ana Matilde Gómez. In a statement Miranda said Panamanian authorities have confiscated more than $50 million dollars in cash over the last ten years, but of that money only $7 million has been turned over to the National Comission for Drug Prevention (Conapred). Miranda says he has no idea where the rest of the money is, and Panama's Attorney General is running an investigation.

See: http://www.prensa.com/hoy/panorama/395570.html
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Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars Missing from Drug Busts

CorruptionAccording to Panama's Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez, there are "hundreds of thousands of dollars" missing due to differences in reports of money captured during drug busts, and money turned in as a result of those busts. Her office is in the process of doing audits of the various district attorney's offices, going back to 2003, and they are turning up all kinds of discrepancies between what one office says it confiscated and turned in, and what another office says it received. More details to follow on this most recent corruption clean-up, to be sure.
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Corruption on the Front Page Again

CorruptionEvery day there's an article on the front page of the paper about corruption. Usually it's mid-to lower level officials who have gotten caught with their hands in the cookie jar and are being arrested and processed. Sometimes it's higher ranking officials. Today's headline announces the fall of thirteen (13) criminals, officals who worked for internal revenue (contraloria), the postal system, and the University of Panama.
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"All Corrupt Officials Are Going Down..."

CorruptionThe lead story in La Prensa this morning is, once again, about corruption. Ana Matilde Gómez, Panama's Attorney General, announed that there are more undercover operations ongoing, and that all corrupt public officials are "going to fall, sooner or later."
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Cleanup at the Immigration Office

CorruptionThe new Director of the Immigration office has yet to be named, but his (or her) first priority should be to improve the international image of the institution.
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