Site Meter
Send Us An Email
Panama Guide

Welcome to Panama Guide
Wednesday, August 27 2014 @ 11:09 AM EDT

View Printable Version

Corruption Trial Moving Forward

CorruptionThe First Anti Corruption Prosecutor requested that three former officials of the National Assembly and three other former employees of the National Bank of Panama and the Savings Bank be called to trial, accused for the loss of 45 checks from the Treasury Division of this state body, for a total amount of $65,885.

Prosecutor Rosa Elvira Pinzón brought charges against the accused for the alleged commission of offenses against public administration. Of the former officials of the National Assembly, Juan de Dios Hurtado is a fugitive, Jonathan Rodriguez has been arrested and is in jail awaiting trial, and Felicidad De León de Obaldía has a court order which prevents her from leaving the country. The other defendants, Yavira Mendieta Corrales, Leticia Álvarez and Dalys Camargo Dacosta, have all also been released with a court order preventing them from leaving the country.

According to the investigation, the checks were cashed at the Banco Nacional in Albrook with the complicity of one of the accused. The complaint for the theft of the checks was filed on November 9, 2009 by the Office of Legal Counsel to the Attorney General of the National Assembly.

In statements to the authorities, De Leon, an official of the Department of Correspondence of the Assembly, said it was Hurtado who asked her to cash some of the checks as a favor that had supposedly been signed by the beneficiaries, which is why she contacted another worker of the institution Jonathan Rodriguez, who managed to cash the checks at the branch of National Bank of Albrook, and the money was delivered personally to Hurtado.

The preliminary hearing of the case was made last Friday at the Fifteenth Criminal Court, and the judge Georgina Tunon, filed for a period of 30 days to decide whether or not the accused will be called to trial. (Prensa)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Italian Prosecutor Can't Touch Panamanians

CorruptionThe chief prosecutor of Naples, Francesco Greco, said yesterday he was unable to confirm or deny whether Panamanian officials are involved in the international corruption case in which Valter Lavítola is accused, but even if this were the case, and despite the accusations of his office are well substantiated, he could not pursue (them) due to the limitations of the laws of Italy. Greco spoke to the journalist Joan Solés, a correspondent for Panama Radio in Italy, who interviewed him about the investigation against Lavítola, a key figure in the negotiations between Panama and Finmeccanica, and who is accused of having paid bribes to Panamanian public servants within the failed negotiation to build modular prisons in Panama. In his remarks, Greco said that because of limitations imposed by Article 322 of the Italian Criminal Code, in this case he can pursue the corrupters, but not the corrupt. Previously, in statements made to TVN on 27 April 2012, Greco explained that in the investigation the president Ricardo Martinelli is mentioned, his eldest son Ricardo, and the current Mayor of Panama City Roxana Mendez, but he could not process them, even if he had evidence against them, and that Article prevents him from investigating foreigners (non Italians) when the offense was not committed in Italy. But the condition of "foreigner" of the president could be suspended, because Martinelli himself has said he is an Italian citizen. "In this world there are two presidents with an Italian passport, myself and Berlusconi," said Martinelli on 13 September 2009, in Lucca, Italy. (Prensa)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

More Of Martinelli's Emails (Lavitola Case)

CorruptionNew emails allegedly reveal an exchanging of information between President Ricardo Martinelli and the Italian Valter Lavítola. One of the mail accounts allegedly belonging to a son of the president. In the press conference yesterday, the president of the republic, responded to a question from a journalist Ricardo Jaramillo of TVN Noticias.

However, in an email exchange between the president and Lavítola, which is part of the evidence from prosecutors in Naples, and to which TVN News had access, foreshadowed another reality.

At 4:21 pm on 26 January 2011, presumably Lavitola send an email to the president in which he said: "Brother, I am being scolded by the company Finmeccanica for a long time, I responded with the attached email . I think it may be useful to accelerate. Please confirm my arrival. Valter, hug."

At 5:32 in the afternoon the president would have said, "please to everything with Rica. Today I am in Davos, Switzerland."

Lavítola then allegedly sent an email to the Deputy Security Minister Alejandro Garuz to the email account agaruz@minseg.gob.pa as follows: Alexander, relax. Everything is OK. Antonio arrives in a few days. I'm hoping to complete some documents. It turns out that the technicians arrived. Please send to Rica as fast as possible the documents we spoke about. Tomorrow I will send you the contacts in the Capitainerie and aeronautics. I am attaching a document that I sent after pelei. I embrace you, valter"

On February 18, 2011, Lavitola have sent at 7:07 pm a message via email to the account ricamartinelli@gmail.com, which presumably belongs to one of the sons of the president in which he said: :Brother, Sunday God willing I get to Panama. I talked with Franky. If possible make an appointment for Monday. I have to move fast. If possible, please also make an appointment with your dad. Please confirm with me. A hug. Valter."

At 8:21, the response from the account to Lavítola ricamartinelli@gmail.com: "perfect, we will see you here."

Also on February 18 at 7:22 pm Lavitola would have sent to the account roxanace@yahoo.com presumably the Minister of Government Roxana Méndez, an e-mail that read: "Dear Roxana, after I talked to you and Rica, I realized that it is better that I go to Panama. I will need to be there in the shortest possible time. Please, would it be possible to book an appointment with you for Monday. Please confirm me. A hug. Valter."

The reply was sent at 11:49 pm on February 18 itself. "Monday at 9:30. I need information on the funding program to provide the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) for that same Monday at 3:00 pm. I have a meeting with the director of investments. Greetings!"

Lavítola, replied on February 19 at 12:23 hours with a terse message: "ok. Thank you."

Editor's Comment: Email coordinating meetings from more than a year ago? So friggin' what? The Panamanian media is trying to spin this into something, and I'm just not sure there's "evil" here. I think this was a "would have been" case of corruption that was interrupted before it occurred.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Mulino Said On CNN There Has Been A "Profound Distortion Of The Truth"

CorruptionThe minister in charge of the Foreign Ministry of Panama, Jose Raul Mulino, said on CNN in Spanish that "there is a profound distortion of the truth" in the case of the alleged bribes supposedly paid by Valter Lavitola to the president Ricardo Martinelli and members of the Panamanian government. "A political management, internal to Panama of course, looking to bounce the news from Italy to harm the president and his government."

Mulino, who is also the Minister of Public Security, will travel to Rome, Italy from 23 to 25 April sent by Martinelli, spoke about a distortion of the truth "if not lies and slander about this issue." "These are the kicks of the drowning, what is being done in Panama, as they try to tarnish the international image of the country," he said.

The acting Foreign Minister said the intervention of the Panamanian government in terms of Italian firms was a government to government agreement signed in June 2010 between the then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Martinelli. "The responsibility of our government, above all, it is to clear the name of the government of the Republic of Panama."

He said on the international television network that the entire transaction met legal standards. "The Republic of Panama has acted transparently, if there has been a problem in Italy, then it is a problem among the Italians, and it will fall to the Italian authorities to show what they deserve."

Mulino said the Ministry of Economy and Finance, headed by Alberto Vallarino, handled all of the financial structuring, after signing the agreement. He made clear that Finmeccanica companies were brought to Panama "by the hand of President Berlusconi". "We did not go shopping in Italy, or to buy helicopters, radars or to buy anything." (Estrella)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Lavitola Denies Having Paid Bribes To Panamanian Government Officials

CorruptionThe former director of the newspaper "Avanti" Valter Lavitola, who is being investigated in Italy for alleged blackmail of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and for allegedly paying bribes to Panamanian officials, denied these allegations before the judge handling the case. The former associate of Berlusconi said during the interrogation to which he was subjected yesterday and today reported the content of local media, that he intended to ask for five million euros from the former Italian prime minister as a loan, but he denied it was a blackmail attempt. He explained the $600,000 he gave to Panamanian officials were not bribes, but rather payments for a range of legitimate business operations.

Lavitola, according to the leaks that the Italian media had access to, gave investigators his cell phone and a series of documents which, he said, will clarify the facts against him. In addition, prosecutors in Naples (southern Italy) following the case met today with two judges from Panama, in a meeting that was used to exchange information, the sources said.

The former director of the newspaper "Avanti" was arrested on Monday upon his arrival at Rome's Fiumicino airport from Argentina, where he sought refuge after the scandal broke over the alleged blackmail of Berlusconi in relation to a party with young people and the then president, in their private residences. On the scale, in addition to the charge of blackmail of the former Italian prime minister, are corruption, the illegal diversion of funds abroad, and the international corruption for alleged bribes paid to politicians in Panama.

The press published transcripts yesterday of new information concerning the investigations into the alleged payment of bribes and payments to Panamanian officials in exchange for public contracts. These indicated Lavitola promised tens of millions of euros to Panamanian officials to sign a contract worth 176 million euros for the construction of several prisons, which in the end never took place.

In addition, the daily "La Repubblica" published a transcript of recordings from 21 August 2011 between Lavitola and the commercial director of the Italian company Finmeccanica, Paolo Pozzassere, during which he spoke of delivering a helicopter to the president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, "as an advance payment of 30 million" that was promised. According to the press, neither the helicopter nor the rest of the payment was delivered, because the operation was interrupted after Lavitola's name appeared in the investigation of alleged bribery of Berlusconi.

Following the dissemination of the contents of the recording, Finmeccanica denied the reports and said they never "paid or promised bribes" in the form of cash or property, to the Government of Panama. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: "interrupta corruptionem." This was going to be a case of corruption that was never consummated because the extortion scandal broke in Italy. Martinelli's defense is that there were no contracts, and no bribes were ever paid. But, Lavitola certainly was trying...

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Martinelli Responds To Corruption Allegations

Corruption"I can tell you categorically that neither I nor anyone in the Government has received a penny from the Svermark company." This was stated yesterday by the president, Ricardo Martinelli, from the Palace of the Herons, facing for the first time, face to face to the nation, three days after the news broke in Italy that links him to an international corruption case.

Martinelli said he had nothing to hide and "all doors are open to whoever wants to investigate." According to the president, the news appearing in major media around the world relating relates him to the investigations being conducted by the Prosecutor of Naples against Valter Lavítola, constitutes a "bounce" (or a splash). Regarding Lavítola, Martinelli again qualified him as an "instrumental person" for Panama, to whom the country owes for the treaty to avoid double taxation with Italy and six patrol boats, among other things.

When asked about Karen De Gracia - the president of the Agafea Corp company that had a "sales promotion" contract with Selex, the Italian company that sold 19 radars to Panama - the President said he knew she had a daughter with Lavítola.

The president said everything has happened because "politics have already started" blaming the political opposition in Panama for the campaign against him. Martinelli, who looked calm at the beginning of his appearance before the media, launched an attack on the journalist Medcom journalist Hugo Famanía during the question period, even alluding to problems the television journalist had in the past with drug addiction.

Emails released yesterday by TVN, in which Martinelli's son Richard appears as part of negotiations with Italian companies, the president said "anyone can make an email," but that he had reviewed them, and and that there was "nothing sinful." (Prensa)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Panama City Mayor Denies Having Received Bribes From Lavitola

CorruptionThe Mayor of Panama City Roxana Mendez used the weekly meeting of the City Council to defend herself against the allegations that were made yesterday in different local and international media, saying she supposedly received bribes. These international media reported that Ricardo Martinelli and government officials, mentioning specifically Mendez, were involved in the illegal trafficking linked to the construction of prisons in Panama. At that time, it was said Mendez said Martinelli had received from the businessman Valter Lavitola - accused of extortion and corruption for his links to the business group Finmeccanica - cash in a suitcase and that it was bribes to obtain a concession for the construction of these prisons in Panama. In response Mendez said "here we did not enter into any contract, and I never received a penny of bribery, and much less have I been a mediator for anyone." At the same time, she said these allegations are false, and it can be shown by evidence. She said they would investigate to find out where the information came from, and who is making the accusations, because it's an issue that affects many, and she's not going to allow it. (TVN)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Lavitola, Accused Of Bribing Martinelli, Had An Official Car in Panama

Corruption
Valter Lavitola - Italian Businessman
Valter Lavitola - Italian Businessman
The former director of the the Italian newspaper Avanti, businessman Valter Lavitola, was arrested on Monday in Italy, accused of corruption and of bribing the former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, enjoyed a security escort and an official car in while he was in Panama, according to testimony cited by the Italian press on Tuesday. While the Italian justice system was looking for Lavitola for alleged extortion against Berlusconi and the "misuse" of about 20 million euros of public funding for the newspaper L'Avanti, the journalist and entrepreneur enjoyed a "bodyguard, chauffeur and official car" in Panama said the President of Svemark, Velocci Mauro, one of the witnesses in the case, as revealed by local media.

As evidence of the ties between the businessman and the Panamanian President, Lavitola admitted to Velocci that the Italian justice system considered him to be a figitive since last September, but in Panama he enjoyed an "an escort and official car made available to him by Martinelli himself," said the witness.

Meanwhile the newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, citing as the source Lavitola's arrest warrant signed by a judge in the preliminary investigation of Naples, says Martinelli's vacations along with two ministers and a member of the Supreme Court with their wives, on the Italian island of Sardinia from 18 to 21 August 2011, were "paid by Lavitola." For the judge Dario Gallo, the holiday was organized for "personal convenience" by Lavitola, who acted as "a statesman in disguise." During these vacations, Lavitola organized a visit to Silvio Berlusconi's summer mansion, Villa Certosa, where the then Italian Prime Minister did not attend for health reasons. After the visit, Lavitola insisted that Martinelli, who he called "brother," take photographs in the villa so they could be published in the Panamanian press. According to Gallo, the gift of the vacation to the Panamanian delegation "was not a friendly gesture but a disinterested investment for the future and past activities of corruption," he wrote. "The credit enjoyed by Lavitola with Martinelli was based on the close relationship of the journalist-entrepreneur with the then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi," says the judge.

According to Italian judicial sources, Lavitola is accused of having been introduced as an "intermediary" of the president of Panama for "illicit negotiations" in the country, including the construction of several Panamanian prisons.

Official Panamanian sources acknowledged that Lavitola presented to the Panamanian executive a project for the construction of four prisons along with other Italian businessmen, but the project was rejected because "the State was not able to bear the cost."

Lavitola is accused of alleged "international corruption" along with twelve other people, including Senator Sergio de Gregorio.

Panamanian President on Monday responded to these charges, saying: "In Panama no Italian company is building not even one prison," said Ricardo Martinelli briefly via his Twitter account. (Estrella)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Martinelli Cancels Trip to Mexico Because Of Lavitola Scandal

Corruption
Panmanamian President Ricardo Martinelli
Panmanamian President Ricardo Martinelli
The president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, today suspended his planned trip to Mexico to participate in the Latin American edition of the World Economic Forum, to "concentrate" on clarifying the rumors about his alleged involvement in a bribery scandal in Italy. "President (Martinelli) is in Panama, he is not going to travel" to the Mexican resort of Puerto Vallarta, where he and four other leaders, including the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, were going to participate in the economic forum, said the Panamanian Communications Secretary Luis Eduardo Camacho. Camacho said Martinelli decided to cancel the trip to "focus on cleaning up the image" of the country against the "rumors" linking him to a bribery scheme being investigated in Italy.

This case has as its main protagonist the former director of the newspaper "Avanti" Valter Lavitola, who has been arrested in Italy accused of "blackmailing" the former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. "The Panamanian government has no concern for issues" that only pertain to Italy and those who "are trying to involve Panama," but the versions circulating in local and foreign media "affects not only the image of the president, but the country," said Camacho.

The Panamanian newspaper La Prensa published Tuesday that an investigation by prosecutors in the Italian city of Naples "identifies" Martinelli "as a person who received" allegedly on orders from Lavítola, "profits and sums of cash in connection with a failed contract to build four prisons" in Panama.

"There are rumors about alleged information from Italian authorities" who are not identified, and which are "contradictory" because they speak of an alleged contract "which does not exist", and therefore, there can be no bribes, Camacho argued in a telephone interview. Martinelli denied on Tuesday that he had received any gift from Lavítola, through his Twitter account, where he also complained that as a ruler he has to "take" that they say "anything" about him. "I have not received a penny in this Lavítola mess. I don't know if the money I supposedly received in Brazil stayed in the account of Pesqueira Lavitola," wrote Martinelli this morning via his Twitter account. Also on Monday Martinelli addressed the issue on Twitter to deny that some Italian companies were building prisons in Panama.

The interior minister, Jorge Fabrega said on Monday that as part of a cooperation agreement in security signed by Panama and Italy in 2010, they explored the possibility of building prisons in three regions, but that the "Government Panama decided not to accept" the proposals made by an Italian consortium due to high costs. Fabrega also denied yesterday that Lavitola "participated in any contract in Panama," in response to local press reports according to which the former director of the newspaper served as an intermediary in negotiating the procurement of Panamanian government contracts for Italian firms. (Panama America)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Seven Businessmen Charged In School Fiberglass Corruption Scandal

CorruptionThe Fourth Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office pressed charges against seven businessmen for crimes against state property, in the preliminary proceedings they are handling for the irregularities in the awarding of contracts for the removal of fiberglass from schools in Colon and San Miguelito. Judicial sources said the prosecution decided that in this case there were other crimes in addition to the embezzlement, which opened the summary. They also accused a former official of the Ministry of Education. (Prensa)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Journalist Accused Of Bribing President of Panama Arrested in Italy

CorruptionThe former director of the Italian newspaper Avanti, businessman Valter Lavitola, accused of corruption and of having bribed the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, was arrested Monday in Italy after being a fugitive for six months in Latin America. Lavitola was arrested at the Leonardo Da Vinci airport in Rome as he arrived on a flight from Buenos Aires and was immediately taken to Poggioreale prison in Naples (south).

According to judicial sources close to the prosecutors in Naples who are investigating the case, Henry John Woodcock and Vicenzo Piscitelli, quoted by the Italian media, Lavitola is accused of having presented himself as an "intermediary" of the President of Panama and the Panamanian authorities to conduct "unlawful negotiations" in that country, including the construction of four prisons. Lavitola is accused of alleged "international corruption" along with twelve other people, including Senator Sergio De Gregorio.

The Embassy of Panama in Italy, contacted by the AFP, declined to comment on the case.

The journalist and businessman is also accused of having organized, together with his colleague Giampaolo Tarantino, a network of luxury prostitutes to participate in the controversial private parties of Berlusconi. And also the "misuse" of about 20 million euros of public funding for the newspaper L'Avanti. The businessman was arrested on 1 September 2011 by order of the court of Naples for the alleged extortion against Berlusconi - for not revealing details of his parties with prostitutes.

According to the indictment, the two entrepreneurs initially aspired to get multi million dollar contracts overseas through Berlusconi, and to achieve business procurement through a "complex network of corruption" of Panamanian public officials and private entrepreneurs. After the scandal broke about Berlusconi's private parties with the presence of a minor, the two businessmen ended up asking for some 800,000 euros from the political leader to remain silent.

According the same source, Lavitola and his Panamanian partners, among them Francisco Martinelli, the president's cousin, have been accused of obtaining the contract from the Panamanian government for the construction of prisons, after promising the sum of $28 million dollars and a helicopter worth $8 million dollars to the head of the Latin American country. In the list of recipients of bribes are, besides the President Martinelli, the Panamanian Minister of Justice, Roxana Mendez, and other political figures, says the prosecution.

"Part of the money for the Panamanian president was delivered in a suitcase," says the indictment, which states there were two deliveries of 530,000 euros and 140,000 euros. President Martinelli and the other Panamanian officials cannot be punished by the Italian justice system and they are considered to be subjects that are "passive and not active" in corruption, according to international conventions. For the investigators, the business with Panama vanished due to Lavitola's legal problems in Italy related to Berlusconi.

According to the prosecutors in Naples, Lavitola is an "expert in blackmail" and enjoyed important contacts within Finmeccanica, the second largest public industrial group of the peninsula, an expert in sectors such as aeronautics, defense electronics, energy and transport, which in turn controls the companies Selex, Augusta Westland and Telespazio Brasile, with interests in Panama. The formalization of contracts between the government of Panama and the Italian conglomerate to acquire helicopters, radar and a digital map was made in August 2010. The newspaper Il Corriere della Sera argues that subsidiaries of Finmeccanica relied on the company Agafea, based in Panama and owned by Lavitola, for their operations. (terra.com.co)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Local Politician Arrested - Caught Red Handed Taking A $10,000 Bribe!

CorruptionThe Municipal Councilman representing Sabanitas from the Panameñista political party, Marcos “Pepe” Valdés, was arrested yesterday by agents of the Direction of Judicial Investigation (DIJ), in the middle of a surveillance operation over an alleged extortion. Preliminary reports reveal the politician received $10,000 in marked bills in a restaurant in Sabanitas from a businessman, the payment of a bribe so he could be granted a commercial business permit. After the arrest, the municipal representative was taken to the premises of the DIJ on Calle 2 and Avenida Meléndez in the city of Colon. (Panama America)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Former Colon Notary Has Not Been Charged In Island Land Transfer Investigation

Corruption
Nedelka Navas - Former Notary in Colon
Nedelka Navas - Former Notary in Colon
The First Notary Colon Nedelka Navas has not been charged in the case being investigated by a prosecutor for the alleged illegal transfer of an island in the district of Taboga. According to the Panama America newspaper, Navas endorsed the procedure which has been denounced by the Public Registry. But the Sixteenth Circuit Prosecutor Katya Melendez said Nedelka Navas does not appear among the four people who are being investigated, and that she has voluntarily cooperated with the investigation. The notary said he had been pressured by the executive to resign. The President said on Wednesday that yesterday (Thursday) the truth would come out about this case. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Dueling newspapers. Right now La Prensa and the Panama America are exchanging fire on a daily basis over this situation with Nedelka Navas. La Prensa is a Panameñista newspaper, while they call the Panama America the "official" newspaper of the Ricardo Martinelli administration.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Notary Navas Approved Transfer Of Island Property Using Falsified Documents

Corruption
Nedelka Navas - Former Notary in Colon
Nedelka Navas - Former Notary in Colon
The Eleventh Court of the First Judicial Circuit of Panama enacted a criminal sequestering of the paradisiacal Urabá island, in the district of Taboga, constituted by farm number 2230, after it was detected in time that the island was going to be transferred through an allegedly fraudulent act, using the identities of eight people who had died and other forged documents. The case is related to the First Notary of Colon, Nedelka Navas, who testified to a transaction realized with falsified information, as stated in the case file being handled by the Sixteenth Prosecutor of the First Judicial Circuit of Panama, who filed for the sequester of this property to prevent the fraud involving these valuable lands. The documentation was handed over to the Panama America newspaper by official sources.

This is not the first time someone has tried to fraudulently sell Urabá island, which is located next to Taboga Island. On the Internet there are more than ten deals promoting the island for sale, one of them for 80 hectares for $5 million dollars. But it was not until now that the authorities have decided to put a stop to this problem, which are involved a Notary, a buyer, and eight dead people, who they tried to pass off as being still alive.

The first abnormalities were detected in the regional office of the Public Registry in Colon, when one of the verifying officers noticed that the personal identity numbers (cedulas) of the eight people who were supposedly giving their consent for the sale, listed as co-owners, so that part of Finca 2230 could be segregated in favor of Javier Antonio Stanziola Garcés, did not match, according to case file being handled by the prosecutor.

Later it was found that previously they had tried to transfer the Finca on two earlier occasions, but the recording did not proceed due to a lack of a "paz y salvo" (good standing) from the IDAAN, and the seals from the MIVI and the "Catastro" (tax office) were lacking on the plans.

On September 8, 2011 they attempted for the third time to transfer the property in favor of Stanziola. It was then that the anomalies were found with the personal identification numbers of the eight people who were supposedly giving their consent to the transaction.

Stanziola came in to say that on some of the documents only the names of the people who were agreeing to the segregation appeared without their personal identification numbers because they were minors, raising more suspicions, as established in the documentation attached to the case file being managed by the prosecutor.

All documentation used to enter the transaction which is now under investigation for alleged fraud was presented by Rigoberto Chavez, according to the documents.

Subsequently, officials of the Public Registry identified that the eight people who gave their consent to Stanziola to segregate a piece of the property were all dead. The property has a current value of millions of dollars. This led the authorities to identify that it was the Notary Navas who formalized the judgement of intestate succession, in which the identity of the eight dead people were used, to formalize the transaction for Stanziola, as highlighted in the prosecutor's opinion.

After that, the General Director of the Public Registry, Hernando Abraham Carrasquilla, decided to present in November last year the complaint for the alleged crime against the public faith (falsification of documents in general and identity theft) in the case of the segregation of Urabá Island. "The facts proven in public deeds, beyond all doubt, appear to be fraudulent," said the Sixteenth Prosecutor of the First Judicial Circuit of Panama, which is now in charge of bringing this investigation to a close.

The deceased persons whose names were used to try to transfer the property on Urabá island, with the support of the First Notary of Colon are: Felicia Herrera, María de la Cruz Herrera, Aurora Sandoval Herrera, Domingo Sandoval Herrera, Carmen Rosa Sandoval de Rivera, Alberto Sandoval Herrera, Juan Lombardi e Isaura María Anais Beluche de Sandoval. (Panama America)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Former Director of Immigration Complains About How Her Rights Are Being Violated

Corruption
María Cristina González - Former Director of Immigration
María Cristina González - Former Director of Immigration
The former Director of the National Immigration System, Maria Cristina Gonzalez, said during her interrogation held yesterday, Tuesday, 10 April 2012, that the prosecutor was asking her questions unrelated to the case or the investigation, and they are not allowing her lawyers to conduct her defense, so therefore she believes they are violating due process. Meanwhile, Gonzalez's attorney Maria Eduarda Cordoba said she requested a ten minute recess in order to advise her client, but she was not permitted to exercise her defense, which is a violation of the law. The lawyer said in order to be able to speak in private with her client they would have to leave the offices of the Public Ministry, because there was no room where they could talk alone. Meanwhile, Gonzalez said she was being charged with forgery, and they have not conducted an handwriting analysis. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: These are the types of games and maneuvers used by defense lawyers to create space for their clients. Maria Cristina Gonzalez is the former Director of the National Immigration System who I blasted away on for months because I had been contacted directly by some of her victims. Foreigners frequently find themselves in positions of exceptional weakness, and this Maria Cristina Gonzalez would use her powers to extort money from Colombian prostitutes to the tune of about $1,500 each time they were "picked up" on the street. These women were arrested and held in the Immigration jail cells, even though all of their paperwork was in order, and they were in the country legally. I had one woman tell me Maria Cristina Gonzalez told her directly - to her face while sitting in her office - that either she paid the $1,500 or she would be deported back to Colombia and would never be allowed to return to Panama. Almost all of these women paid the money and were subsequently released - put back to work to make more money so they could be "squeezed" again. Many of them were "picked up" and extorted about twice a year. When all of this was going on I wrote directly to high ranking government officials and let them know that they were going to have massive problems with this woman, eventually. Within a couple of months she was fired, and charges were filed against her. So yeah, now she's bitching about having her "rights" violated. Who gives a damn. This is the woman who acted as an extortionist pimp for the Colombian prostitutes. No sympathy here.

Related Articles:

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Investigations Over Fiberglass In Schools Extend To Other Provinces

Corruption Embezzlement. The Third Anti Corruption Prosecutor has opened a new investigation related to irregularities in the awarding of contracts for the removal of fiberglass from schools, this time in the provinces of Darién, Bocas del Toro and Los Santos. In this case the amount of the embezzlement detected was $117,500 dollars. Sources in the Public Ministry reported that the audit revealed damages totaling $720,000 dollars in the Darien, $316,000 in Bocas del Toro, and $139,000 in Los Santos. So far no one has been charged in this new investigation. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: This whole "fiberglass in schools" scam was one of the most notorious embezzlement schemes pulled off during the PRD administration of Martin Torrijos. First, government operatives went out and stirred up the local students, teachers, and school administrators. They would find a school classroom somewhere in the country where the gypsum ceiling needed to be repaired, where you could see the fiberglass insulation hanging out from the other side. They used the outright ignorance of these people to make them think that fiberglass insulation was somehow dangerous (like asbestos or whatever) and then the parents and teachers and students would "protest" to demand that the fiberglass be "cleaned up." Two successive former Ministers of Education then went to the National Assembly and obtained "emergency" funding to pay for these "cleanups." Then the just handed out the contracts, stole most of the money, and really didn't do anything much.

How Was This A Scam? Fiberglass insulation is not dangerous in any way. Anyone who is working with fiberglass insulation needs to wear long sleeves and gloves to protect the skin because the glass fibers can become embedded into the skin, causing irritation and itchiness. But if a part of the ceiling is falling down, all you have to do is repair the ceiling and cover up the fiberglass. There is no "danger" just because fiberglass was used as insulation when the school was constructed. In order to get hurt or injured by fiberglass you would practically have to eat it, or try to smoke it, or something else similarly ridiculous. Of course when all of this was going on I pointed these facts out, but the local news media basically either ignored it or decided to remain ignorant, because they didn't know the truth either. Of course the administration was too busy stealing public funds with their scam so they had no time to talk about the truth. Now two former PRD Ministers of Education have been charged with embezzlement, and it looks like there will eventually be more (PRD) arrests, and more (PRD) people will be charged as this investigation expands. Once again, timing is everything. If they start it now the PRD people will be going to trial right about in May 2014, the next presidential election cycle. Justice, timed for political gain. The CD will be using this scandal to remind everyone how corrupt the PRD was while they were in power. The message is clear - they stole your money before, and they will do it again if you let them. In Panama the investigation and prosecution of corruption and embezzlement goes hand in hand with political aspirations and the electoral calendar. Here, they do things for a reason, or for some tangible political gain.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Colon Notary Refused To Be Fired Because She's Pregnant

CorruptionThe notary of Colon, Nedelka Navas Reyes, said on Tuesday she refuses to sign the document making her dismissal official, because she says firing her while she's on maternal leave is illegal. According to the notary her dismissal violates her maternity leave, which protects pregnant women from being dismissed from their jobs. Navas, who remains at her residence, was removed through an Executive Order issued on 15 March 2012 and published in the Official Gazette on 5 April 2012, whereby the president Ricardo Martinelli said her appointment was "groundless." However, the document does not say why she was dismissed. Article 106 of Chapter II of the Labor Code that talks about working women and children, states: "A woman who is in a state of pregnancy can only be fired from her job for cause, and with prior judicial authorization." Attorneys in Colon, among them the Vice President of the National College chapter of the province, Roberto Laguna, protested the dismissal of the notary Nedelka Navas Reyes, considering it to be arbitrary and illegal. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: It's political. She was fired because she's a Panameñista who refused to cooperate with an investigation into allegations that corrupt Panameñista politicians were squeezing money out of the Notary Publics they hired after the 2009 elections.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Former Director of Immigration's Lawyers Postpone Corruption Interrogation

Corruption
María Cristina González  - Former Director of Immigration in Panama
María Cristina González - Former Director of Immigration in Panama
Defense lawyers for the former Director of the National Immigration Service, Maria Cristina Gonzalez, asked the Second Anti Corruption Prosecutor's Office suspended the interrogation of their client. According to the lawyers, the first questions posed to Gonzalez were not in line with the charges allegedly linked to her. The lawyers argued the prosecutor was violating Gonzalez's constitutional guarantees, and they would wait until she was called again by the prosecution.

Gonzalez arrived at the Avesa building which houses the offices of the Second Anti Corruption Prosecutor at 9:15 am this morning. She left from the office at 11:29 am. Previously, the former immigration official told the media that she went to the offices of the Attorney General to cooperate with the authorities. Gonzalez is accused of corruption and influence peddling for allegedly selling visas to citizens from India, China and Cuba. (Prensa)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Nine Government Vehicles Seized For Improper Use During Holiday Weekend

CorruptionOfficials of the Comptroller General's Office reported the retention of 9 staff cars nationwide, the results of an operations started on Thursday, 5 April, for Easter. A total of 225 government vehicles were inspected, and the nine that failed the inspection were seized because they were not in compliance with Executive Decree 124 of November 27, 1996 that regulates the good use, management, control and registration of official and rented vehicles for the State, the entity reported Saturday in a press release.

Among the reasons for withholding official vehicles are: no license plates, unlicensed drivers, improper use of vehicle, and vehicles parked in private homes. Executive Order 124 provides that official vehicles can only circulate with public servants who are in need of the service, who will carry a safe-conduct pass indicating their names, date, place of mission, name of others in the party, and the identification card of all.

Circular number 16-2012-DC-DFG reiterates the provisions in force in this area, all representatives of the three branches of government, decentralized entities, public universities, public corporations where the government has control of capital and other government agencies for the proper use of state cars. The circular suggests refrain from authorizing official missions during and after the Holy Week, on the pretext of the need for official activities. State vehicles, including those with hidden plates and rented vehicles, must remain in the parking lots of the institutions concerned.

The Comptroller General maintains more than 20 checkpoints in the different provinces, as well as mobile units that are in search of the vehicles denounced by citizens through the public hotline. In the report issued on Friday, seven vehicles had been retained nationwide and 219 state vehicles had been inspected. (Estrella)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Former Director of Public Registry Will Be Interrogated

CorruptionThe third anti-corruption prosecutor, Maruquel Castroverde, brought charges for "crimes against the public administration" against the former director of the Public Registry Luis Barria, for charging "kickbacks" in the approval of government contracts. Castroverde said he has set 10 April to take a sworn statement from the former official, but that the suspect, through his lawyers, has requested to be released on bail. Juan Ramon Malivern, Barria's lawyer, said the case has become a media circus against his client, and that members of the government are behind this smear campaign. The investigations in this case were initiated following the complaint filed by the lawyer Ernesto Aguila on 14 March 2012 before the Public Ministry. Barria was accused of extortion, forgery of documents, and for charging "kickbacks." (Prensa)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Former Director of IFARHU (PRD) Called To Trial For Embezzlement

CorruptionThe Sixth Criminal Court decided to deny an extension to the Third Anti-Corruption Prosecutor for further investigation for the alleged commission of the crime of embezzlement by former director of the Institute for Training and Development of Human Resources (IFARHU), Samuel Buitrago. As a result of this decision, the court set for May 25th, the preliminary hearing against Buitrago and 31 other people. These include the former director of Grants, Sarkis Valencia, the scholar Gustavo Benitez and others. In the prosecutor's opinion, prepared by the former prosecutor Yolanda Austin, they requested that Buitrago be called to trial for having authorized grants without full documentation. The investigation of this event began with an audit report of the Comptroller General of the Directorate of Scholarships. (Panama America)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Prosecutor Appeals Lower Court's Decision in Ernesto Perez Balladares Money Laundering Case

Corruption
Ernesto Pérez Balladares - Former President of Panama
Ernesto Pérez Balladares - Former President of Panama
The Special Organized Crime Prosecutor Marcelino Aguilar, presented before the Second Tribunal the substantiation of his appeal against the dismissal the court had issued in favor of the former President Ernesto Perez Balladares, in the process opened against him for money laundering. In recent days, Aguilar said his appeal would be based on that there is sufficient evidence to call Perez Balladares and fourteen others who have been charged in this process to trial. This is the last battle the prosecutor will have to win this case, since he has lost twice. On 29 April 2011 the Ninth Criminal Court decided to end the process for good, and on 6 January 2012 the Second Tribunal upheld the lower court's acquittal, after the prosecution appealed that decision. This investigation was initiated following a report from the Financial Analysis Unit (UAF), for alleged irregularities in transactions between bank accounts held by the former president and the company Lucky Games. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: In my estimation the decisions that have been handed down in this case to date have been based much more on politics than on the evidence, truth, or facts. In Panama with high stakes, politically charged cases such as this, the evidence really does not matter all that much. What matters most is - which team (political party) controls which court. The lower court decisions that have already been handed down - first to acquit and basically throw the case out, and then a Superior court decision on appeal to uphold the lower court's initial decision - were really not much of a surprise. In fact I predicted a very long time ago that all of the action and decisions in the lower courts will merely serve as warm-ups for the main event, when this case eventually reaches the Supreme Court. For example, if the government's prosecutors had won either in the 9th Criminal or the 2nd Superior, then the lawyers for Ernesto Perez Balladares would have appealed to the Supreme Court as well. So no matter what happens, the case is headed for the Supreme Court.

And who controls the Supreme Court? The Cambio Democratico political party and Ricardo Martinelli. And why is the government going after Ernesto Perez Balladares? Is it because they really don't like corruption? No, of course not. It's a combination of politics - to score a conviction against a high ranking PRD politician on the eve of the May 2014 election - and thanks to "guilt by association" then all of the PRD will be tainted. And it's also an old personal grudge between Ernesto Perez Balladares and Ricardo Martinelli. And remember, Panama's Attorney General is Jose Ayu Prado, who started this case against Ernesto Perez Balladares when he was the Special Organized Crime Prosecutor. And remember as well that the former Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez was fired (well, leveraged out of her position) because she would not go after Ernesto Perez Balladares. This entire game goes marching forward, slowly but surely, step by step. And with this new appeal, it will (finally) be reaching the Supreme Court - where Ernesto Perez Balladares simply does not stand a chance, due to the politics involved.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Minister Favored Another CD Party Member With Contracts

CorruptionFive companies related to a senior ruling member of the Cambio Democratico (CD) political party were favored by the Minister of Health, Franklin Vergara, with direct contracts to collect garbage in Colón, and to distribute drinking water in tanker trucks in the provinces of Darien, the Eastern part of Panama, and Coclé; work normally carried out by municipalities and the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewage Systems, respectively. These contracts, amounting to more than $1.7 million dollars, were approved between April 2010 and November 2011 on the grounds of "obvious urgency" and given to companies linked to Carlos Bryan Torres from Colón, who together with Minister Vergara, is a member of the Honor and Discipline Council of the CD political party, according to information from the Electoral Tribunal.

To elude the obligatory bidding process established by Law 22 of 2006 on Public Procurement, Minister Vergara argued reasons of "urgency" and "emergency" as appropriate. However, the "urgency" cited as a reason to hire directly to collect garbage in Colón was not supported.

The company Aguaseo SA, which holds the concession to collect garbage in 14 districts of this province, says they do not face complaints over the service they provide, nor reports form the areas about problems. However, the Ministry of Health approved three contracts for refuse collection in Colón worth more than half a million dollars.

With regard to the supply of drinking water using tanker trucks in the Darién, Coclé, and the Eastern part of the province of Panama, Vergara justified the contracts on the grounds that there are communities that do not have this service, without specifying which ones. In this case the contracts involved have a value of $1.2 million dollars.

It was not possible to get a reaction from those responsible for the Ministry of Health.

When consulted, the businessman and member of the ruling CD political party Bryan Torres said there was no conflict of interest in the case, and he justified the direct contracts citing "notorious emergencies and urgencies that are well supported, all social and humanitarian." (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: When you read stories such as this, you should keep in the back of your mind the political truth and fact - that about 55% of the people in Panama are now members of political parties who do not support Ricardo Martinelli or his teammates in the Cambio Democratico political party. Much of what is reported in the local media is designed to cause problems, create a scandal, or in some what make the CD look bad, no matter what. In cases such as this, I'm sure there were protests or something in Colon back at about the time these contracts were let for garbage collection. So, the government reacted quickly and hired someone to pick up the trash, because the Municipal government of Colon was not doing their jobs properly. And I'm sure at the time the political detractors were slamming away at Martinelli and the CD, complaining about how the garbage was backing up. Now they are complaining about the way they acted to take care of the problem. With the distribution of water - same thing. Remember when the rains and mudslides clogged up the water treatment plant? When people don't have safe drinking water that quickly becomes and "emergency" or and "urgent situation." The government reacted. And what about the charges that the CD government gave the direct contracts to other CD party members? What, you think they're going to give the business to Balbina Herrera or Juan Carlos Varela? Anyway, my point is this - almost everything in the news that's attacking the government is politically motivated. The election campaign for the hearts and minds of the electorate started a long time ago. Everyone, on all sides, is trying to find a way to get a toehold, some traction, a grip, an edge, or a way to make some headway to damage their opponents. It's how the game is played. And by the way, no one is going to do anything or investigate anything, because what Minister Vergara did is now "standard practice." The CD guys are giving the money and the contacts to other CD guys - and that's why the PRD and the Panameñistas are pissed. "No soup for you!"

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Italian Lawmakers Continue To Question Panama - Finmeccanica Deal

CorruptionAlthough the Panamanian authorities - both the Public Ministry and the Executive - have closed the Finmeccanica case, both authorities in Naples and the parliamentary body in Italy continue the investigation. In the upper house of Parliament the Independent Senator Elio Lannutti continues to question, and during a speech at the Palazzo Madama, the seat of the Italian Senate, the purchase of radars, helicopters and digital mapping services for $250 million dollars made ​​by Panama from the joint venture conglomerate Finmeccanica. "I'll take care of corruption and have noticed that in the case of Finmeccanica and Panama there are strong indications of corruption," said the senator in an interview with this newspaper. On 2 February, Senator Lannutti reacted strongly, rejecting the statements of the President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, who formalized a business letter sent by Finmeccanica to endorse the transparency of the transaction. Today, he is pressing for a decision by the Italian Government on the subject. "That was not an official response and I have not seen evidence that the Italian Government has given a response [to Panama]," he said. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: The government of Panama under the administration of Ricardo Martinelli is not about to do any serious investigation of the Finmeccanica deal, with an eye towards corruption. Because (obviously) if there was any corruption in that deal, they were the ones who were corrupt. No, the only way this whole thing might get investigated for real is if it starts in Italy, or if the CD loses the election in 2014. Then there might be some kind of an investigation that will take decades to slowly make its way through the system, just like the CEMIS case. Corruption exists in the Panamanian system of government, because the system of government was built by the politicians, and they are the ones who are corrupt, and it's designed to allow them to get away with stuff. They are all the same - it's cultural - there is absolutely no difference between the PRD, Panameñistas, or the CD. The only difference is, who's turn is it to drink from the well.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Investigation Advancing on MEDUCA Forged Documents Case

CorruptionMore than 80 falsified appointment documents came from an office that is not related to the Ministry of Education (Meduca), or the Human Resources Department, and are part of the investigations being conducted in the case of false resolutions, confirmed Dimas Guevara, the Auxiliary Prosecutor. On 27 February, at the beginning of the school year, the Ministry of Education filed a complaint in the prosecution for forgery of the signature of the Regional Director of Education, Maria Elena Gil de Montaner. Guevara said he had to investigate on the computers owned by Meduca to determine if there were officials of the institution involved in this case. The prosecutor considered that, according to his investigation, it is possible that those involved are part of an organization of forgery. Guevara said the names will be revealed at the end of the week. (Siglo)
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Afú Accuses Martin Torrijos Of Having Received $7 Million In Bribes (CEMIS Case)

CorruptionThe National Assembly Deputy from the ruling Cambio Democratico (CD) political party, Carlos Tito Afú, accused the former president Martin Torrijos of having received $7 million dollars as part of the bribes paid to obtain the ratification of the Multimodal Industrial and Service Center (CEMIS) in 2001. In an interview with this newspaper (La Prensa) yesterday, Afú accused Torrijos of being the "architect" in this corruption case, and he called for a confrontation with the former president to "tell him the truth to his face." Afú said he has presented sufficient evidence against Torrijos in this process that has been dragging on for eleven years.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the former president, Eric Rodriguez Auerbach, said Torrijos would not comment, but he did request the transcript of the remarks made by Afú.

Filings Delay The Case: The preliminary investigation of the CEMIS case has virtually stagnated in the Supreme Court, as a consequence of the presentation of six requests filed since 2010 that have not been resolved by the substantiating magistrate. The previous reporting judge Virgilio Trujillo ended his term on December 31, without resolving them, and now the new substantiating judge Hernán De Leon filed a disability, alleging that his family has a friendship with Deputy Carlos Afu, who has been accused in the case, and that he worked in a law firm that provided service to the former president Torrijos, who is also mentioned in the investigation. (Prensa)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Afu Accuses Martin Torrijos (In CEMIS Corruption Scandal)

CorruptionThe CEMIS is like a skeleton in the closet. The biggest corruption scandal of the past decade revived yesterday in a confrontation in which Deputy Carlos Afu turned on the fan and accused the former president Martin Torrijos of being the mastermind of everything, and that therefore he would unmask him. "You are well entangled (in the CEMIS scandal). Hey, Martin Torrijos, you were the one who did all this ... the money came from your home," said Afu to end a confrontation with the former lawmaker Mateo Castillero, in which he asked the former president, Balbina Herrera, Laurentino Cortizo, and other members of the PRD to submit to a polygraph exam. "They are all afraid," he said.

In the hearing realized in the Supreme Court before the prosecuting judge Abel Zamorano, Afu attacked Torrijos. "He called Mateo Castillero for him to go get the money in the Commission on Drugs, where the lawmaker Miguel Bush was waiting for him in the reverted areas," he said. "Matel gave Bush the big box (with the money), which he dropped because he was so nervous. Later Bush called his assistant Roberto Silvestri to take the box to the Budget Committee," added Afu.

Carlos Afu - National Assembly Deputy, Member of the Cambio Democratico political party (now), formerly PRD - At the center of the CEMIS scandal.

For his part, the former lawmaker Mateo Castillero identified Deputy Carlos Afu a "liar> and said with this he is committing a "despicable" act by trying to link Torrijos with CEMIS. According Castillero, his former co-party member is doing an errand for someone else, and he denied links with the CEMIS. Castillero claimed that Afu's charges arose after Balbina Herrera identified him as one of those who sold out to ratify the appointment of the Supreme Court judges Alberto Cigarruista and Winston Spadafora.

Polygraph invalid: James Bernard, a lawyer for Torrijos, explained that legally the polygraph is not valid in the legal system, noting that the testimony provided by Afu have not been supported with evidence that demonstrates its veracity. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: Tis the season. We are now about two years away from the next round of elections in Panama, which will be held in May 2014. Any legal action in Panama takes at least two years to work its way through the legal system, so if the administration of Ricardo Martinelli wants to cause political damage to the opponents, now is the time to pull the trigger. This CEMIS case is aimed directly at the PRD, and you can expect other action to be taken against the most prominent Panameñistas, such as Jose Blandon, for example. The only thing that matters for the Cambio Democratico is to win the 2014 election. It's great if they have good evidence and cases. Lacking that, they can make some stuff up. Remember how David Murcia's accusations of having paid bribes to Balbina Herrera and Bobby Velasquez sank their election chances in early 2009? Expect a repeat in 2014. The details will be different, but the strategy (and the tactics, generally speaking) will be the same. To most Panamanian ears, "CEMIS" means "PRD corruption." Therefore, the CD will be banging this drum loudly and frequently from now until May 2014, in order to do as much damage as possible to the PRD as a whole, and individual politicians specifically.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Afu and Castillero Testify Before Supreme Court in CEMIS Case

CorruptionThe National Assembly Deputy and member of the Cambio Democratico political party Carlos Afu, and the former PRD lawmaker Mateo Castillero, came this Thursday, March 22, to the Supreme Court (CSJ) to undergo cross-examination in the case of alleged bribes to approve the Multimodal Center, Industrial and Services (CEMIS) contract in 2001. The scandal broke in 2001 when Afu, who was them a PRD legislator, denounced the alleged payment of bribes to approve the CEMIS project. Deputy Afu said Castillero was present when he received the money on 29 December 2001. Meanwhile, Castillero told local media that Afu "keeps lying." "It seems he is doing the errand of someone to involve Martin Torrijos (Panama's president between 2004 and 2009) in a case in which neither he nor I have anything to do," he said. In addition, Afu - upon leaving the Supreme Court - asked for all of those involved in the case to submit to a polygraph exam. He mentioned that among people who should be subjected to a polygraph are: Miguel Bush, Roberto Silvestre, Balbina Herrera, Martín Torrijos, and Laurentino Cortizo. According to the Deputy from the CD party, no one dares to say they will submit to the test, because they know who is telling the truth. The CEMIS case was reopened by the Supreme Court in July 2009 after six years of being closed by that organ of state. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: While the PRD was in charge, and while Martin Torrijos was president, the CEMIS case was kept on ice. The original investigation started during the administration of Mireya Moscoso (1999 - 2004). Then when Torrijos took over (2004 - 2009) the investigation was shut down. Once Ricardo Martinelli came to power (2009 - 2014) the case was reopened. This is the case the administration of Ricardo Martinelli will be using to cause political harm and damage to the PRD in the run-up to the 2014 election. And yeah, they paid a whole lot of money (cash) in order to get the CEMIS law passed. Everyone knows it already, but it just has to be made official, eventually. The "Justice" system in Panama is heavily politicized, and high profile, politically motivated cases such as this are most often decided more due to politics than law, evidence, and facts. It's like "yeah, yeah - testimony, evidence, law, proof - blah, blah, blah ... whatever, you're guilty, because we don't like you."

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Two More People Charged In Juan Hombron Land Scandal

Corruption The Fifth Circuit Prosecutor brought charges for crimes against the environment against two more people as part of the investigation into the alleged irregularities in the award of 54 hectares of land Juna Hombrón, Cocle, said a source in the Public Ministry yesterday. According to the informant, the prosecutor Ruth Morcillo Saavedra signed last 14 March 2012 a resolution of inquiry against Jose Fernandez and Jose Gutierrez, both of whom acquired possessory rights of the coastal lands involved in the case.

In the record, the two defendants are listed as individuals to whom the former Director of Land Titling of the National Authority of Land Management (ANATI) Anabelle Villamonte gave free land in John Hombrón.

The source explained the prosecutor's decision arose after two reports of audit realized by the Comptroller General of the Republic were entered into the record, dated November 2011 and January 2012, which indicated neither Fernandez nor Gutierrez complied with the formalities to obtain possessory rights. According to the source, the accused will be interrogated this week, but did not specify the date. The Second Criminal Court granted them bail to avoid arrest.

An article published in the La Prensa newspaper in November 2011 revealed that Gutierrez was benefited by Villamonte with the free allocation of 3.6 hectares of land, which he sold two months later to the company Laufen Holding Corporation for $132,000, almost the same assessed value given by the former ANATI official.

For his part, Fernandez was granted 2.6 hectares of land on 12 January 2011, the same day as Gutierrez. He also quickly sold the land to the company Homron Empresas de Inversiones, S.A., which has the same directors as Laufen Holding Corporation, the company to which Gutierrez sold his land in Juan Hombrón.

Fernandez and Villamonte appear in the company La Reina del Hogar, registered on 20 May 2010, according to this newspaper.

The Comptroller's auditors found the allotments of protected national land incurred the violation of Law 80 of 2009, which regulates the recognition of possession rights on islands and coasts, and environmental regulations such as Law 41 of 1998 about the general environment.

With Gutierrez and Fernandez there are now six defendants accused by the Public Ministry in this case; namely Anabelle Villamonte, Eric Lamboglia, the head of the legal department at ANATI, as well as José Félix de la Cruz and Mario Ruiz Arrieta, who are in charge of the mapping section of that entity. All are free thanks to bonds, and precautionary measures. (Prensa)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Former Director of Immigration Charged With Forgery, Influence Peddling, Corruption

CorruptionThe Second Anti Corruption Prosecutor's Office filed charges against the former Director of the National Immigration Service, Maria Cristina Gonzalez, for the alleged commission of various crimes such as forgery, influence peddling, and corruption of officials. The allegations are linked to alleged irregularities in the issuing of visas for citizens of Cuba, China and Bangladesh. Lizett Chevalier Rios, Second Anti Corruption Prosecutor, said Gonzalez Ruiz will be interrogated next week in the Public Ministry. The prosecutor has been conducting investigations for complaints against the former officer since 2010. Maria Cristina Gonzalez was replaced in the Immigration Department by the former Director of the Direction of Judicial Investigation (DIJ), Javier Carrillo, after she resigned amid allegations of irregularities. (TVN)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks