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Tuesday, July 25 2017 @ 06:40 PM EDT

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"Presents" For All The CD Members

CorruptionThe existence of a warehouse at the Naval Base in Rodman, in the Pacific, with containers filled with food, furniture, appliances and all kinds of presents who are allegedly going to be distributed to deputies, mayors and government representatives, sparked up a controversy among opposition politicians and spokesmen from the civil society.

The worst is they suspect these articles were acquired through funds from the National Help Program (PAN)—formerly known as FIS—. There were also reports of several trucks with yellow stripes from the State going in and out of the place.

The representative of Rio Abajo, the PRD member Javier Ortega, said no one from the PRD is getting anything from this hangar, “everything that’s in there is destined for the candidates of the Democratic Change Party.”

Meanwhile, the secretary general and deputy of the Panameñismo Political Party, Alcibiades Vásquez, said access to this area is restricted.

He believes the Electoral Prosecutor must investigate this situation.

Another Panameñismo member, Jorge Gamboa Arosemena, said this is the beginning of the “a nationwide Drinking Bowl” with all the gifts they will give out to promote the government candidates.

The deputy Fernando Carrillo, from the Democratic Change party, said he is not upset despite of this report on the hangar for proselytism, and he even said that if they are giving something away to take him into consideration.

“I have not been in this warehouse,” he said and also believes this report has to be investigated.

The opposition says the CD is striving to win or consolidate its electoral offer, for example, out of the 71 deputies from the Republic, 42 are government deputies.

“Distributing the Drinking Bowl” says the former magistrate and independent presidential candidate, Gerardo Solís, who warns about this being an electoral crime and says there is not a single electoral prosecutor doing something about this.

He says the operation of assembling and disassembling these “huge warehouses” are done by people who know a thing or two about logistics of wholesale distribution of products.

The political analyst, Mario Rognoni, says the government must explain this situation, because it is a complaint on purchase of household appliances to buy consciences and votes.

Rognoni believes it is necessary to clarify the budget that’s being used in case these are funds from the PAN.

Neither Rafael Guardia, director of the PAN, nor the government has talked about the issue. (Estrella)

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Everything Leads To Frankie Martinelli

CorruptionAfter signing a $2.3 million contract with a company offering “secretary services” and linked to Francisco ‘Frankie’ Martinelli’s attorney, Sofratesa de Panamá Inc., –subcontractor of the Panama Metro– received direct contracts from the State for the amount of $23 million.

In November 2011, for example, the same year when the “secret” contract was signed, Sofratesa received a direct contract of $21 million from the Civil Aeronautics Authority to build and equip a new air traffic control center tower in Albrook.

Frankie Martinelli’s relationship in these businesses is determined through three of his employees, one of them his former chauffeur Rodny Soto Núñez, who signed the “secret” advisory.

The three managed documents for Sofratesa and worked in the law firm Patton, Moreno & Asvat, from which the President’s cousin was fired. He’s also linked to the construction of a building in the exclusive area of Coco del Mar. (Prensa)

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Martinelli's Cousin Was Receiving Benefits Under The Table From The Metro

CorruptionThe attorney Francisco Frankie Martinelli –cousin of President Ricardo Martinelli– is linked to a company that signed a “secret” contract of 2.3 million dollars to advise and give “secretary” services to a subcontractor of the Panama Metro.

The company, Sarda Management, S.A., inscribed under the laws of the British Virgin Islands, was formed with the registered agent Rodny Soto Núñez, who was the personal chauffeur of Frankie Martinelli.

“I wish I had that of money,” said Soto Núñez, talking about the amount of the contract he signed. Meanwhile, his former boss decided to remain silent about it.

The “secret” contract was signed on 2011 with the company Sofratesa de Panamá, Inc., in charge of the engineering and installation works of the electromechanical systems of the Metro.

The treasurer of this company is the Dominican Jaime Bonetti Zeller, “personal friend” of President Martinelli. (Prensa)

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Torrijos Administration Used Contract Addendums To Steal Government Money

CorruptionIn 2008 , the Ministry of Government and Justice granted a multi-million dollar open ended contract for the repair of five helicopters. Other government institutions also appear on the list.

The 15 million dollar contract was with the company Hellitech Support Services and had an expiration date of May 13, 2010.

The irregularities and anomalies, identified by an audit report (investigation) conduct ​​in the various departments of the State into the multi million dollar projects awarded during the administration of former President Martin Torrijos, were not only involving the Ministry of Public Works (MOP).

The companies failed to perform within the established time limits established in the contracts, or the failed to perform to specification, and these problems were established as the primary causes of violation of the law of public procurement during the period 2004 -2009.

The list of government institutions involved includes the Ministry of Health (MoH), Ministry of the Presidency, Ministry of Government and Justice, and the Community Development Program (Prodec).

The report indicates in the Ministry of Health, under the administration of then Minister Camilo Alleyne, direct contracts worth 6.5 million dollars were signed between the MoH and the National Coordinator of Health (Consalud).

It jumps out that in this procurement Alleyne appears as the President and legal representative of Conades, and according to the director of the Social Security Fund (CSS ), René Luciani, they agreed to conclude the contract with an exception of public act and direct hire authority issued by the Cabinet, as recorded in Cabinet Resolution No. 31 of April 21, 2006.

The audit concluded this transaction was a benefit to a private company that worked with state funds. On the subject, the former Minister of Health refused to provide a statement.

In the now defunct Ministry of Government and Justice, contract number 10-208 between the State and the company Hellitech Support Services LLP was highlighted in the report.

On August 5, 2008 the company was ordered to proceed to recover five helicopters of the National Air Service ( Senan ) - AN-120, AN-21, AN-123, AN-125, and AN-134 - at a cost of $10.8 million to run over a period of two years (720 days).

The contract suffered an increase of five million dollars for "alleged" overruns in the work to be done. However, the aircraft were not delivered to satisfaction within the timeframe indicated.

The irregularities begins eight months after the order to proceed was executed, and without a resolution to suspend the contract, when the delivery schedule of the aircraft was suspended.

The then director of the SENAN, Rigoberto Gordon, left embodied in note number # 366-SENAN-DG dated 19 June 2009, where he said that during meetings held with the company representatives, "they presented a report of cost overruns that were generated in the order of $780,000 and the EFIS system in the cabin of the SAGEM brand proposed by Hellitech to modernize the cockpits, there were some problems with the specifications, so they recommended we should opt for the KRATOS brand, which although they cost more, the quality was superior," says the document.

Gordon also said the overall progress of the project was only 23%, as reported by the Panamanian technicians who traveled to Canada where the work was done. "There they noticed the slow progress of work versus the payment made."

Despite the warning, the audit documentation stresses that Hellitech billed and collected based on the request made for the replacement brand in the cabins for the Kratos system through Addendum 1 to Contract 10-208.

But this contract suffered a second violation committed by the company with the approval of the authorities. The company said "we have problems with Kratos, and offer to install screens of the Universal brand, although we don't know their overall price."

Following the notification, the company, without the consent of the state, proceeded to acquire the Universal brand screen Lies 2011 and installed them in the helicopter AN-120, without the corresponding addendum to authorize the change screen.

The former Minister of Government and Justice Daniel Delgado Diamante has his version with full knowledge of the facts.

"I left the Ministry in 2008. There was a program prepared by the former National Air Service (SAN) for the rehabilitation service for the helicopters in Canada and for the airplanes in Spain. This institution became the National Maritime Service (SMN) within the National Air Service (Senan) at the end of 2008," he said.

"I think that process was pending at the end of the Torrijos administration in 2009, and I imagine that both the repairs or recovery of said aircraft and the payments also would have been made to comply with such repairs, in the timeframe agreed," said Delgado Diamante.

In state contracts and the favored firms, there was a passivity on the part of the government employees responsible to make sure the projects were executed within the agreed timeframe.

However, the disbursements were developed without difficulty, and without having to comply with the specifications agreed in the contracts. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: This article appeared in the Panama America newspaper, which is basically owned and operated by the Cambio Democratico party. They will publish everything against the PRD or the Panameñistas, and in favor of the CD. In the case of these contracts, the government has held off on pointing out these supposed "irregularities" until just a few months before the next general election. The goal is to make it look like the PRD - Remember those guys? - mismanaged public funds while they were in office. This article is a dart thrown at the administration of Martin Torrijos, and therefore also at the PRD candidate Juan Carlos Navarro.

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Corruption hobbles development, generates other crimes - top UN official

CorruptionThe world's largest biennial gathering of delegates in the global fight against corruption opened in Panama today with the United Nations top crime fighter warning that the scourge not only hobbles sustainable development but generates other crimes.

“Corruption is the thief of economic and social development; stealing the opportunities of ordinary people to progress and to prosper,” UN Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Yury Fedotov told the opening meeting in Panama City of the Fifth Session of the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).

“Without corruption and bribery, millions of women, children and men cannot be trafficked as slaves; thousands of small arms cannot reach their violent destinations; and tons of illicit drugs cannot reach their consumers.”

Adopted 10 years ago, UNCAC is the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument, now has 168 States Parties, and has gone further than any other UN Convention through its unique review mechanism that, after four years, has trained more than 1,400 anti-corruption experts and provided assistance to 35 States to amend their legislation. More than 1,500 participants are attending the five-day meeting.

Corruption has a devastating impact across the world. The World Bank estimates that every year between $20 billion to $40 billion are lost from developing countries due to corruption and bribery.

The environment also suffers. Water infrastructure costs, for example, are increased by as much as 40 per cent through corruption, which equates to an additional $12 billion a year needed to provide worldwide safe drinking water and sanitation.

Mr. Fedotov stressed that it would take everyone’s voice raised against corruption to bring true success. “We need a robust and strong coalition of Governments, business community, civil society, academia and media to resist corruption, and build a culture of prevention and integrity,” he said.

Participants at the meeting include representatives of Member States, civil society, private sector academia and the media, who will discuss best practices and successes in the fight against corruption under the umbrella of the Convention.

An entire chapter of the treaty is dedicated to preventing corruption with measures directed at both the public and private sectors, including model preventive policies, such as the establishment of anti-corruption bodies and enhanced transparency in the financing of election campaigns and political parties.

States must ensure that their public services are subject to safeguards that promote efficient, transparent recruitment based on merit. Public servants once recruited should be subject to codes of conduct, requirements for financial and other disclosures and appropriate disciplinary measures.

UNCAC requires countries to establish criminal and other offences to cover a wide range of acts of corruption, if these are not already crimes under domestic law. Countries are bound to render specific forms of mutual legal assistance in gathering and transferring evidence for use in court, and to extradite offenders.

Asset recovery is a fundamental principle of UNCAC, a particularly important issue for developing countries where high-level corruption has plundered national wealth and where resources are badly needed for reconstruction and the rehabilitation of societies. In the case of the embezzlement of public funds, the confiscated property would be returned to the State requesting it.

Editor's Comment: Panama hosting a conference on corruption is like Iran hosting a conference on women's rights. In Panama money can buy freedom for drug traffickers - who walk right out of the front door of the prison. If you give enough money to the lawmakers in the National Assembly, you can get a law passed that will directly support (or allow you to create) your business. If you kickback enough money to officials in the executive branch, you get government contracts to build things. Panama is the capital of official government corruption - within all branches of government. No party or politician is exempt. They run for office simply so they can be the one doing the stealing...

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Citizens Were Protesting To Request Moncada Luna's Resignation

CorruptionSeveral people were protesting outside the Supreme Court of Justice on Friday noon.

These citizens were demanding the resignation of Alejandro Moncada Luna, magistrate president of the Court. The constitutionalist lawyer Miguel Antonio Bernal was at the place, as well as the presidential candidate Juan Jované, the leaders Olga Gólcher and Mitchell Doens, among others. Several members from the National Bar Association of Panama were also at the CSJ.

Moncada Luna suspended a decision from the Electoral Tribunal (TE) in regards to a television commercial, in a resolution from October 31 as part of a lawsuit of protection of human rights presented by the association pro government Panama Avanza.

This action was qualified to be unconstitutional by the civil society, politicians, unions of attorneys and magistrates of the CSJ, because the TE is the only institution allowed to interpret the electoral law. (Prensa)

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Many Criticize Moncada Luna's Silence

CorruptionThe former magistrate of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), Esmeralda de Troitiño, said the president of this institution, Alejandro Moncada Luna, should have assisted immediately the requests of the magistrate Hernán De León as well as his colleagues Víctor Benavides and Luis Ramón Fábrega of meeting to analyze the situation between the CSJ and the Electoral Tribunal (TE), because this entity does not have a hierarchy among its members.

The Court’s Internal Regulations, in article 19, gives the authority to its president to convene the complete assembly for “ordinary and special meetings.”

On November 7 the magistrate Hernán De León requested a special meeting, and his colleagues Luis Ramón Fábrega and Víctor Benavides requested an emergency meeting, to talk about the ruling of the Third Chamber from October 31, presented by Moncada Luna, who revoked the decision of the TE of suspending a commercial in which the presidential candidate of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), Juan Carlos Navarro, was being criticized.

Personalities such as José Alberto Álvarez, from the National Bar Association of Panama; Celma Moncada, from Trial Attorneys; Maribel Jaén, from Peace and Justice; and Miguel Antonio Bernal, from Citizen’s Assembly, criticized Moncada’s silence and said he must give explanations to the entire society and the assembly.

The Third Chamber is formed by Moncada Luna, Víctor Benavides and Luis Ramón Fábrega. But the resolution against the TE was supported by Efrén Tello, Fábrega’s substitute, and Gabriel Fernández, José Ayú Prado’s substitute, members of the Criminal Chamber. (Prensa)

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A Complaint Was Filed Against Moncada Luna For Over Exercising His Functions

CorruptionThe president of the Popular Party, Milton Henríquez, filed a complaint before the National Assembly against the president of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), Alejandro Moncada Luna, for overstepping his role.

The complaint was filed after the ruling issued by Moncada Luna through the Third Chamber of the CSJ, revoking a decision from the Electoral tribunal of suspending the political propaganda against the presidential candidate of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, Juan Carlos Navarro.

Henríquez believes this type of ruling was not within the scope of the Supreme Court.

“I believe the path we have to follow is judging these magistrates and have them removed from their position, not only to stop this intrusion, but for this to warn other officials who plan on stepping on our Constitution and put our electoral process into question,” he said.

The magistrates of the Electoral Tribunal have asked the court to revoke this ruling which has caused a lot of controversy. (Prensa)

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The Controversial Letter Written By A Jesuit About Martinelli

CorruptionThe Jesuit priest Jorge Sarsanedas Del Cid recognized he was the author of a letter sent to the Pope Francis, in which he warns about the repressions on vulnerable groups and the corruption during Ricardo Martinelli’s government.

The President will meet on Saturday with the first bishop of the Catholic Church in the middle of the corruption scandal of Finmeccanica.

Sarsanedas Del Cid, a retired priest who works with the Novitiate House of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Pedregal sent the document on Friday to the Vatican; however, he doesn’t know if it reaches its destination. Yesterday he told La Estrella he rather not talk about it. “I say everything in it,” he said.

In the six-paragraph-letter, titled “Letter to my friend Francis,” Sarsanedas informed the Pope about the repression made in the last three years by the Police led by Martinelli, and that no one has been punished for it.

And he continues: “I’m 67 years old, and since I can remember, I’ve never witnessed so much corruption as in the current government. All he seeks is money, earning at any cost. It’s another way of killing: the impunity, the corruption, the deception, the robbery of public money.”

Are people being killed in the name of economy? He asks rhetorically.

The official spokesman, Luis Eduardo Camacho, could care less about the letter. And said: “we respect elderly people.” (Estrella)

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Martinelli Will Request A Report On His Trip From Italy

CorruptionPresident Ricardo Martinelli reacted to the article published in La Prensa by the Spanish journalist Juan Solés, based in Rome, in which he said there are witnesses who saw the president near the location where Valter Lavítola is serving house arrest.

Martinelli, through his Twitter account, said he requested Italy –he did not specify who- to provide the details of the trip he took in June to Rome, with the excuse of receiving a scroll of recognition from the FAO. “La Prensa is lying,” said the president.

The Presidency Ministry, Roberto Henríquez, was in Telemetro Reporta this morning, but decided not to talk about Solés statement. “We will not continue feeding the morbidity of La Prensa,” he said.

Henríquez said the Government decided not to say anything about the matter, to avoid feeding the “Italian soap opera,” which is “what La Prensa wants.”

Juan Solés also reported he has been receiving death threats and even bribes in Rome “to point my information in a very precise way.” Henríquez said if the journalist has something to say, to go to the authorities of his country (Spain) or to the Italian authorities, and file his complaint. “We will not continue pleasing La Prensa.”

The official did not talk about the approach between Martinelli and Lavítola last June, when the president traveled to Rome. “As far as I know they didn’t meet,” he said.

On the other hand, the former Attorney General, Rogelio Cruz, said Solés, who is no longer the correspondent of Radio Panama for Lavítola’s case, “succumbed to his fears regarding his family and personal safety.” Solés covered this topic for 14 months.

Cruz said the investigation should be reopened in Panama. A court ordered its dismissal, after a request from the Public Prosecutor. The current Attorney General, Ana Belfon, refuses to reopen it, because –she says- she does not investigate “rumors.” Cruz believes its dismissal does not mean it is definitely closed.

“We have to have judgment elements, already opened in Italy, to eventually and in better political circumstances investigate and judge anyone who is responsible,” he said.

The Panameñista deputy, José Luis Varela, said it is necessary to reopen the investigation, to clarify once and for all the contracts granted by the Panamanian government to Finmeccanica, transaction in which Lavítola played an “instrumental” role, according to the Panamanian government. Panama being mentioned in this international corruption case is a complete shame, he said. (Prensa)

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Martinelli Confirmed He Does Not Give Information To La Prensa

CorruptionPresident Ricardo Martinelli admitted he requested the Government officials to ignore the questions made by the journalists of La Prensa.

“Every time someone sends me a questionnaire (…). I’ve told people ‘not to answer the questionnaires.’ Because you go and answer like a fool and they take your thing and do not put what you said.

They put whatever they want,” said Martinelli, during the television news in Telemetro Reporta. The president disqualified the latest news of La Prensa, talking about bribes given by Valter Lavítola to officials and relatives of Martinelli.

Martinelli complained because, according to him, La Prensa is “kidnapped” by the businessman Roberto Eisenmann –founding president of the newspaper – who last night –during a political dinner- called him “fraudster, tax evader and thief.”

In July, the journalist Castalia Pascual, host of TVN Noticias, reported that government officials of Martinelli refuse to go to her television news segment and said the Communication Secretary of State, Luis Eduardo Camacho, was to blame for this.

La Prensa has also said they have refused to provide them information which, according to Law 6 from 2002 (Law of Transparency), is public information. During the last year and a half, the newspaper has filed 18 habeas data before the Supreme Court of Justice to demand provision of information. (Prensa)

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PRD Filed A Complaint Against Martinelli Related To Lavítola's Case

CorruptionThe Judicial Department of the PRD filed a criminal complaint against President Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal for the scandal of international bribery to grant public bids in the country.

The lawyer of the PRD, Luis García, said people close to the president might be involved, according to the reports published throughout different means of communication (radio, written media and television).

He said their complaint is for money laundering, unlawful association, corruption of public servants, illegal enrichment, influence peddling and any other crime that may arise in the investigation.

García said it is public and notorious that the events published throughout the different means of communication are related to the criminal process of Valter Lavítola and others in Italy.

The lawyers of the PRD filed as evidence for the investigation the group of news published in the media, related to the commission of acts and if these were true they are clearly described as criminal events in our legislation.

They requested the Public Prosecutor, based on the articles 43 and 46 of the UN Convention against corruption, approved through Law N° 15 from 10 May 2005, to ask from the jurisdictional authorities in Italy for copies of the statements of Lavítola, Velocci and Berlusconi, in the international corruption process where Panamanian officials are involved or mentioned. (TVN)

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La Prensa Website Got Blocked By The Government

Corruption

The website of La Prensa has been blocked since 10:20am today, in a statement, La Prensa confirmed the blockage is related to the investigation of the Martinelli/Lavitola case.

"The Government intervened the website of La Prensa" as stated by Roberto Eisenmann, founder of La Prensa newspaper.

Eisenmann stated they're working to reestablish access to the web page and reported the audios from the journalistic investigation are still available in the youtube channel of La Prensa.

The audios include a conversation intercepted by the Italian authorities where Ricardo Martinelli's son is heard negotiating the delivery of an helicopter with Lavítola and Mauro Velocci.(Metro Libre)

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"A Family That Steals Together, Will Stay Together" Navarro On The Martinelli Family

CorruptionThe presidential candidate of the PRD, Juan Carlos Navarro, considered the scandal of bribes from Finmeccanica as a “national embarrassment,” in which President Ricardo Martinelli and his son, “Rica” Martinelli, have been involved.

Navarro dared the government candidate, José Domingo Arias, to stand up for this administration and justify the “corruption” of the current Government in which he participated as a Minister and to give details of his participation.

The candidate also asked him to be part of the Electoral Ethic Pact, “if he is a Christian and Catholic.”

The scandal of Finmeccanica has resurfaced due to a recording of a conversation between the President’s son and Valter Lavitola, who was the contact between Panama and Italy for the negotiation. Lavitola is currently being processed by the Italian Justice System. (Telemetro)

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Martinelli Talks About A Press Release That Will End With The "Conspiracy"

CorruptionPresident Ricardo Martinelli published his reaction to the news published by La Prensa where they link his son Ricardo Martinelli Linares with the negotiations between the Italian businessman Valter Lavítola.

The president sent his position through Twitter, in which he said: “Italian novel from the opposition newspaper La Prensa will have its final chapter on Thursday with our press release that will clearly show the conspiracy.”

Earlier, the Attorney General, Ana Belfon, said the Public Prosecutor works on “facts,” after she was asked if they would re-open an investigation related with Valter Lavítola following the reports of La Prensa.

Belfon said they have already investigated “Lavítola’s case” and they even have statements filed in the courts. “We work on facts, the duty of a prosecutor is similar to the journalists’, we work on objective evidence and not on rumors,” said Belfon. (Telemetro)

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Recording Confirms Negotiations Between Rica Martinelli With Lavítola And Velocci

CorruptionAccording to a recording currently being handled by the Prosecutors in Italy you can hear Ricardo “Rica” Martinelli Linares (the President’s son) talking with Valter Lavítola and Mauro Velocci –representative of the Italian company Svemark– about contracts with the Government.

The recording confirms the participation of the President’s son in the negotiations with Velocci, for the construction of prisons and other businesses with the Government. It also gives details about the delivery of one luxurious helicopter for his father’s personal use.

“Rica” Martinelli was joking with Lavítola about this conversation being recorded by the Italian authorities, to the point where he says –before talking about the topics he was calling him for– that he was willing to bet his genitals that they were being recorded.

Velocci confirmed he was present during the conversation, and besides recognizing his own voice, he also recognized Rica Martinelli’s voice and Lavítola’s.

He confirmed they had this meeting at the central headquarters of the Super 99, on 12 February 2011. (Prensa)

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Martinelli Wanted An Economical "Recognition"

CorruptionThe president of Impregilo, Massimo Ponzellini, told the Prosecutors in Italy that Valter Lavítola –in the name of President Ricardo Martinelli– demanded an economical “recognition” if the Panama Metro was adjudicated to his company.

According to Ponzellini, the proposal was rejected, but Impregilo; which is part of the consortium in charge of the expansion of the Panama Canal, accepted to build the hospital that was never donated by the former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, if he won the public bid for the Metro. As you may know, the work was not adjudicated for the Italians, but for Odebrecht.

This hospital project also created another episode with the works of the Panama Canal. The Italian Prosecutors intercepted a call between Berlusconi and the president of Impregilo in August 2011, in which Berlusconi informed him about Lavítola calling him six times that day to tell him that if Impregilo did not announce the construction of the hospital, Martinelli would paralyze the works of the company in the Canal so his shares in the Stock Market would go down.

Also, the ambassador of Italy in Panama tried to have Svemark –the company that negotiated without success the construction of prisons in Panama– to donate the hospital, in order to unblock the negotiations of prisons that had reached a dead end with the Government.

Neither Martinelli nor the rest of the involved in this story have answered a questionnaire sent to them last week to obtain their side of the story on the evidence in the file in Italy.

The Presidency Minister, Roberto Henríquez, was interviewed in TV and he said the news published by La Prensa is an edition of the Italian “soap opera.” (Prensa)

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Several Politicians Request To Open A File For Lavítola-Martinelli Case

CorruptionThe leader of the PRD, Balbina Herrera, said the Public Ministry (MP) and the National Assembly must start an investigation, after La Prensa revealed alleged payments to Panamanian senior officials, as it is stated in the file currently being handled by the Italian Prosecutor in Valter Lavítola’s case, intermediary party in the purchases made from the consortium Finmeccanica.

“The MP has to comply with its duties [of investigating],” said Herrera, who questioned the fact that the only person being investigated in Panama so far for the purchases made from Finmeccanica is her.

Herrera–who can’t leave the country due to an interim measure–is being judged for puslbishing e-mails between Lavítola and the president Ricardo Martinelli. “What justice are we talking about? Here in Panama there’s no justice, we are kidnapped. The Executive Branch has its hand all over it,” said Herrera, during an interview in TVN Channel 2.

In Telemetro Channel 13, the presidential candidate of the PRD, Juan Carlos Navarro, said the investigation from La Prensa is “embarrassing” because the country is “governed by criminals.”

He said the evidence presented in the investigation made by the newspaper “can’t be ignored.” At the same time, he ruled out the possibility of having a file opened in Panama, because the people that are being bribed according to the documents are the same people in power. “I feel embarrassed as a Panamanian.”

NOTHING NEW IN THE PUBLICATION: ROBERTO HENRÍQUEZ

On the other hand, the Minister of the Presidency, Roberto Henríquez, disregarded the publications made by the newspaper and said none of that is new. It just leads you to “suspicions,” he said in Telemetro Channel 13.

The official said La Prensa is “reediting” a “cheap and very bad” novel from two years ago. Martinelli said something similar on Friday, when the newspaper published a note from the journalist Isabel Cerdan, who from Rome informed the Italian prosecutors were preparing for the trial of Lavítola for international corruption. (Prensa)

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The Government Does Not Update Its Registries

Corruption85% of the government institutions have not complied with their public commitment of updating their registries of payrolls and travel expenses under the transparency link of the Office of the Ombudsman.

The National Assembly, for example, has not updated its information for two years. The same goes with the Agricultural Development Bank, the National Mortgage Bank and the National Bingos.

On the other hand, the Presidency Ministry, the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Public Security have not updated their information for a year now.

Some of the reports are not only outdated, but they don’t have content or lead to inexistent pages.

Regarding this situation, Abigaíl Benzadón, executive secretary of the Authority of Transparency and Access to Information, said the entities in the Government are not forced to register their information under the transparency link of the Office of the Ombudsman; they only have to do this in their websites. (Prensa)

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Martinelli Proves He Has Control Over The Legislative Branch

Corruption“After I leave [the interview] I’m going to call deputy Sergio Gálvez [president of the National Assembly], because this project must go on.”

With these words Ricardo Martinelli proved he has control over the Legislative Branch. He did it yesterday during his appearance in Telemetro.

The President was referring to the draft bill No. 611, through which the Health Ministry and the Social Security Fund are authorized to hire foreign health professionals and technicians, because the discussion in the Health Legislative Committee was postponed until next Wednesday.

Martinelli justified the petition he is going to make to Gálvez by saying “it’s not acceptable to open medical facilities with no specialists, because there are general physicians (…).”

In august, the survey conducted by Quantix Panamá revealed 78% of the interviewed considered the Assembly is not independent from President Martinelli.

The former magistrate of the Electoral Tribunal, Guillermo Márquez Amado, said the president can tell another Branch from the Government what his position is, but he must not influence or go beyond this line by telling the President of the Assembly what to do.

“This is not good for democracy. This can’t be…,” he said. (Prensa)

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The Court Of Auditors Ordered A Seizure Of Properties Against Bosco Vallarino

CorruptionThe court of auditors ordered the seizure of assets from the former Mayor of the city, Boso Ricardo Vallarino, member of the Panameñista Political Party, after certain irregularities were detected during his management, which affected the property of the State by approximately $615 thousand.

This measure, established through a resolution from August 2, was also applied to the former Secretary General of the City Government, Jaime Barroso, and three companies that provided services to the institution during Vallarino’s management.

This decision was taken after an investigation from the court of auditors based their investigation on audit ordered by the Comptroller General of the Republic, Gioconda Torres de Bianchini.

Vallarino, who was consulted about the case, said “I’m not afraid of this because I’m not guilty.” On the other hand, Barroso said this is “a political persecution.” (Prensa)

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The CD Wants To Keep Everything Underground And Avoid Transparency

Corruption"The strategy of the Democratic Change Party of preventing officials from the Executive Branch from coming to the Assembly is product of the lack of transparency of the Democratic Change in the last five years.”

This was reported by the deputy Jorge Alberto Rosas, who talked about cost overruns in the government and investigations regarding the end of this government term on June 30, 2014.

The Democratic Change deputies with the allies from the Molirena, recently rejected summons for officials such as: the administrator of the Garbage Collection Authority, Enrique Ho Fernández; the director of the Autonomous Panamanian Institute of Cooperatives (PACOOP), Ana Giselle Rosas; the minister of Ampyme, Giselle Burillo and the administrator of the Tourism Authority of Panama, Salomón Shamah, even though he went on his own.

"The government is in a situation in which it does not understand the need of accountability, of showing transparency in public administration,” said the politician.

Rosas said the increase in direct hiring, cost overruns, mega projects with “astronomical prices” is a big question made to this government.

In this same line, the deputy said: “it seems like the Democratic Change party wants to prevent the society from knowing what they are spending the money on.”

"They are looking to extend this cover of darkness,” he said.

Rosas said that if not now, by July 2014 this “cover of darkness” will be removed and many of these cost overruns will be investigated.

The next day after Shamah voluntarily went before the Assembly and the meeting was cancelled after Crispiano Adames requested quorum verification, the CD rejected with 25 votes summoning Shamah for the second time to explain the one million dollars spent on the website www.visitpanama.com.

Last Tuesday the president of the National Assembly, Sergio "Chello" Gálvez, criticized the deputies from the opposition and qualified their intentions of summoning officials from the National Government as “political,” on the day they rejected the proposition of summoning the director of the IPACOOP and the Minister Burillo.

"The requests made by the PRD and the Panameñista Political Party are sensationalist and are moved by a political sentiment of going against anything that smells like government to them,” said Gálvez. (Estrella)

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PRD Will Summon Adames To Explain Why He Interrupted Shamah's Interrogation

CorruptionThe PRD announced they will call Deputy Crispiano Adames, for his position today, after he requested quorum verification while the Minister of Tourism, Salomón Shamah, was explaining before the National Assembly the payment of over one million dollars for a web page without a public tender. After the deputy requested this, the cession was suspended.

“We condemn the payment of over $1 million for a web page, hired without the proper public tender, therefore, we demand that Minister Shamah goes back to the Assembly to explain what happened before Panamanians and the Assembly,” said Rubén De León.

De León said they are requesting Adames to explain why he requested quorum verification in the middle of the session, just when Shamah was being questioned.

“We respect the right of every deputy to request quorum verification, however we are asking Adames to give us an explanation on the subject,” said De León. (Prensa)

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Crispiano Adames Saved Salomón Shalah From Giving Further Explanations

CorruptionThe administrator of the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP), Salomón "Salo" Shamah," was saved from being questioned thanks to the help of one of the members of the PRD.

The official went before the National Assembly on Monday to explain the direct hiring of the company Pensanómica S.A., which received approximately one million dollars through contracts for the design and administration of the website visitpanama.com

During the meeting, Shamah had his back against the wall. In that moment, the deputy from the Panameñista Party, Jorge Iván Arrocha, was questioning him.

Out of nowhere, the deputy Crispiano Adames from the PRD stood up, interrupted deputy Arrocha and asked the president of the Assembly, Sergio "Chello" Gálvez, to verify how many deputies were at the Assembly.

Gálvez, through this political move from the opposition, closed the debate due to a lack of regulatory quorum, leaving Arrocha in mid-sentence and releasing Shamah, who confessed he went before the Cabinet Council on Monday through an invitation from the president.

Arrocha, from his seat, protested while standing, seeing that the PRD member managed to cancel the interrogation.

Now the deputies from the Panameñista Party assure the PRD knocked down the meeting so Shamah could stop talking.

Shamah started answering questions at 2:38 p.m. and thanks to the deputy from the PRD, Adames, as if he was an ally of Democratic Change, he was dismissed at 4:07 p.m. (Estrella)

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Panama's Tourism Authority Paid $1 Million For A Website

Corruption Panamanian taxpayers paid more than $1 million over the past two years for the design and management of the website visitpanama.com which is owned and operated by the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP).

In 2012, the administrator of the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP), Solomon Shamah, awarded a direct contract to the company Pensanómica SA for $715,920 (2012), which included the payment of $447,000 for the website, and an additional $268,000 to bring foreign journalists into the country.

In 2013 Shamah once again rehired the same company directly through a contract worth $882,998 paying $600,000 for the website and another $282,000 to bring international media to Panama.

The President of Pensanómica S.A. is Adolfo Fabrega, the former manager of the Secretary of Information Security of the Presidency, who is also the brother of the Secretary for Social Affairs of the Presidency, Dayra Fabrega. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: There's no doubt about it - this administration of Ricardo Martinelli has stolen through graft and corruption millions upon millions of dollars. The Tourism director Solomon Shamah has already survived several corruption scandals that should have resulted in his removal from office - like the fact that the government of the United States yanked his visa due to allegations of ties to drug traffickers and money laundering. Of course he can still travel to the United States on his official government ticket, but once he's no longer working for the government he won't be able to visit Disney Land as a tourist - a normally crippling flaw for the nation's highest ranking tourism frontman. And remember the former Human Rights Ombudsman Patria Portugal was recently removed from office due to her excessive spending on things like websites. Maybe things will be different for Shamah this time around, as the elections of May 2013 are now starting to loom larger in the minds of the fickle Panamanian voters. Martinelli and his gang of corrupt politicians want to keep sucking at the tit, while the (just as corrupt if not worse) PRD and to oust them and return to office. Screw it - all Panamanian politicians are flat out corrupt. You might as well vote for the guy with the best haircut, because they are all crooks...

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Arias Hired His Sister-In-Law's Company

CorruptionEven though officials aren’t allowed to hire companies linked to their relatives, the former Minister of Housing and Land Planning, José Domingo Arias, directly hired the company Chateau Design, which is directed by his sister-in-law, Sheyla Castillo de Arias.

The direct hiring of Chateau Design was done five months after he was appointed as the Minister of Housing in replacement of the member of the Panameñista Party, Carlos Duboy, after the Government alliance was broken.

Arias hired her company for $15,500 for them to build a float for the City Carnival in 2012.

They justified the “urgency of hiring the company” by saying “they have proved their staff is very professional when it comes to organizing and developing this type of social events.”

A year later, Sheyla Castillo de Arias went to his official campaign ceremony as presidential candidate for Democratic Change, and last week she was his “representative” in a forum organized by the Chamber of Trade, Industries and Agriculture for presidential candidates of the Republic.

Between February and July of this year, Chateau Design also earned several thousand dollars by renting a float —with recycled materials— to the Tourism Authority and the Ministry of Health.

Since last Friday, La Prensa has tried without success to make the former Minister answer the questions about the direct hiring of Chateau Design during his management as the Minister of Housing.

The newspaper sent him several emails and tried calling him many times, and even visited his office yesterday. (Prensa)

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Cochez Presented A Birth Certificate Showing That Maduro Is Colombian

CorruptionGuillermo Cochez, former ambassador of Panama before the Organization of American States, presented a birth certificate through which he wants to prove that Nicolás Maduro, current president of Venezuela, was born in Colombia.

According to Cochez, changing your nationality to occupy a public position is a serious crime “that must be paid for in prison,” which is why he expects the Colombian authorities to talk about this issue.

Even though the document is not certified, Cochez defends his position. “Despite our best efforts for obtaining the documents regarding the birth of Nicolás Maduro, this document is not certified, but I am sure that this is a valid document and therefore it must be verified by the Colombian government.”

Cochez said the authorities from Venezuela and Colombia had a meeting, and within their arrangements they planned that the Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos was not going to spread this certificate to the public.

In the Birth Certificate presented by Cochez, it appears that Nicolás Alejandro Maduro Moros was born in November 1961 in Cúcuta, Colombia. (Telemetro)

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Belfon Will File Charges Against Portugal

CorruptionThe Attorney General, Ana Belfon, requested a hearing at the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice to file charges against the Ombudsman, Patrial Portugal for crimes against public administration, according to judicial sources.

These charges are going to be filed against Portugal for signing a contract subscribed with the company Imaginarium Studios, S.A., for $250 000, incurring in cost overruns, for advising of image, which included the development of the institution’s website.

According to sources, the Public Ministry (MP) sent a note to the Secretariat of the Second Criminal Chamber, formally requesting the date for the judicial hearing.

In the morning, the Attorney General Belfon said her office was conducting the relevant procedures to request a hearing, but did not give details on the grounds of the complaint filed against Portugal.

According Belfon, even though the contracts signed by Portugal were endorsed by the Comptroller General of the Republic, so far there is nothing in the process leading to possible charges against the head of that office, Gioconda Torres de Bianchini.

"The investigation was initiated with the information given by the administrator of the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information, Abigail Benzadón, and based on the information received we have been raising the necessary elements, and we have reached the decision of filing charges [against Portugal],” she said.

Regarding the news published yesterday by La Prensa about a new contract with the same company, for $299,000, Belfon said the case is governed by the criminal justice system, and any information must be reported as part of the evidence before the judge responsible for setting bail, in this case the judge Jose Ayu Prado.

Portugal sent a note stating “the Ombudsman has acted, is acting and will always act within the law." (Prensa)

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Portugal Hid A New Contract

CorruptionThe Office of the Ombudsman, led by Patria Portugal, kept another direct contract in secret, granted to Imaginarium Studio, S.A. for $299,000 to follow up on the project from 2012 [advising of image], for which they paid $250,000.

Last week, during her appearance at the National Assembly, Portugal failed to mention the consulting service 11-2013, endorsed without any problems by the Comptroller General.

However, in early May, a few days before this newspaper revealed details of the first transaction, the official canceled the negotiation.

This was revealed in a letter to the Ombudsman sent by Jean Paul Ortega Ramirez, president of Imaginarium Studio, S.A., in which he announced that the consultancy couldn’t be executed due to different "circumstances."

The amount of this new consultancy service is just one thousand dollars less than the limit set by the Act 22 on Public Procurement, which requires the approval of the National Economic Council for contracts exceeding $300 thousand.

If the contract would have gone forward, Portugal would have paid $749 thousand to the same family. En Avant, S.A., company owned by Jazmine Ramírez (Jean Paul Ortega’s mother), was hired in August 2012 through a contract of $200,000 for a consultancy to improve customer service. (Prensa)

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Millions Of Dollars Spent In Unnecessary Purchase In The MINSA

CorruptionThe Ministry of Healht (MINSA) bought with “utmost urgency” a total of 126,250 rapid tests to detect antibodies of the HIV and hepatitis B and C, for a total of 2.5 million dollars, equivalent to $18.50 for each kit, without including taxes.

This acquisition would have been recorded as another regular purchase of the MINSA if not because of Aurelio Nuñez, head of the National STD / HIV / AIDS of the institution, who said there is a possible cost overrun of $10.50 for each kit. This means the Government is paying one million dollars more.

Nuñez sent a letter in May to Max Ramirez, Director of Health, in which he revealed that this transaction -awarded by the general secretary Adelys Varela, acting as a deputy minister in charge - "is not justified," because these three tests can be purchased for less than $8.

This purchase was made even though the former minister of Health, Franklin Vergara, acquired 25 thousand tests for half a million dollars in 2011, and most of these tests expired in the health centers. Neither the health minister, Javier Diaz, nor the general secretary talked about the matter. (Prensa)

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