Friday 24th May 2024.

May 23, 2024


Ubaldo Vallejos , former candidate for deputy for the 1-1 Bocas del Toro circuit , challenged the proclamation of Benicio Robinson as the winner of a deputy seat in that electoral circuit in the general elections on May 5.

Accompanied by his lawyers Herbert Young and Dionicio Rodríguez, Vallejos arrived at the headquarters of the Electoral Tribunal (TE) in Ancón, after 2:30 pm, and stressed that he has all the evidence that indicates that Robinson, president of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party , would have violated electoral regulations during the political campaign.

The appeal was filed in the Second Administrative Electoral Court. Among the arguments that Vallejos mentions is the campaign spending limit.

Robinson reported to the TE that he spent $144,877, but Vallejos insists that he exceeded that figure. He says he did not report what he invested in structures for rallies and political meetings.

He mentioned “huge” custom awnings, which cost $1,500 to rent daily, as well as the purchase of the bicycles he gave away, advertising and other big expenses of political tours.

“We presented a complaint against Benicio Robison’s proclamation, based on three causes: excess in the campaign spending limit, gifts, because if there is any doubt with the gifts, an alteration of the will of the electorate occurred; and also for violations of different norms of the Electoral Code,” said Vallejos.

He added that they hope that the claim will be admitted and that the respective hearing will be held. He explained that collecting evidence to support the challenge did not require as much effort as the process of raising the money for the bail necessary to present the appeal: $25,000. To raise the money they took up a collection, and even made a yapitón. Vallejos thanks everyone who collaborated.

Javier Carrizo Esquivel will continue as manager of the National Bank of Panama (BNP) , by appointment of the elected president José Raúl Mulino.

Carrizo Esquivel was the first vice president of Corporate Business Development of Multibank Panama between 2005 and 2019. He held the position of executive vice president of Banco Uno Costa Rica between 2004 and 2005.

In addition, he was vice president in charge of corporate and commercial banking, and general manager of Pribanco during its merger with Banistmo between 1998 and 2003.

Carrizo Esquivel has a degree in business sciences and business administration from Babson College in Massachusetts, United States, complemented by more than 40 years in the banking sector.

At the end of 2023, the BNP loan portfolio accumulated a balance of $6,445.5 million, exceeding that of 2022, which at the time was the highest with $5,925.0 million.

Customer deposits totaled $12,242.0 million, when compared to the $11,665.8 million obtained at the end of the previous year, reflecting an increase of 4.9%.

For its part, the bank’s investment portfolio recorded a balance of $4,487.1 million, compared to the $3,785.6 million that was reached as of December 2022, which represents an annual growth of 18.5%, supported by purchases of securities, mainly bonds of the Panamanian state and supranational instruments of correspondent banks.

In legal terms, the BNP faces a claim from merchant Abdul Waked Fares , who demands compensation of $1,268.7 million, for alleged damages linked to the transfer of his former Soho Mall shopping center .

In his claim, Waked argues that he was pressured by the BNP to sign the trust to which he voluntarily transferred Soho Mall in July 2016, after being included in the so-called Clinton List of the US Treasury Department, on activities linked to money laundering.

Waked’s claim was initially admitted by the Third Administrative Litigation Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice on August 23, 2018.

The elected president of the Republic, José Raúl Mulino, appointed Andrés Farrugia González as general manager of the Savings Bank, starting next July 1 when the new government takes office.

In the government administration of Laurentino Cortizo, Farrugia served as general manager of the Savings Bank, between 2019 and 2021.

Farrugia announced his resignation from office, after La Prensa published on April 8, 2021 that the Savings Bank opened an account in the name of former president Ricardo Martinelli , in December 2020, by direct authorization from Farrugia, despite the warnings presented. by compliance officers of the state bank, given the profile of the client, his exposure as a “PEP” (politically exposed person), the investigations into corruption and money laundering that were ongoing in Panama at that time.

Roberto Arnulfo Barría Stanziola has been appointed as general manager of the Agricultural Development Bank (BDA).

This was reported through account X of the office of the elected president of Panama, José Raúl Mulino . Barría Stanziola has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, United States, and a pre-engineering degree from Sienna Heights College, Michigan, United States.

According to reports, Barría Stanziola has held several public positions, including regional director of the western area of ​​the Agricultural Research Institute, deputy general manager of the Agricultural Development Bank and general secretary of the National Charity Lottery. In addition, he is administrator and owner of the company Griselda SA, dedicated to agricultural exports, livestock, commerce and real estate development.

The strategy is clear: use the challenges to prevent the independents and other like-minded deputies from achieving a majority (36 votes or more) on July 1, the day the National Assembly is installed .

This is noted by consulted deputies and other political actors in the country, who demand that the Electoral Tribunal (TE) resolve “in time” the appeals presented against the proclamations of elected deputies.

José Pérez Barboni, deputy of the 8-3 circuit for the Other Path Movement (MOCA), said, for example, that the challenges would considerably affect the vote to install a board of directors of the Assembly “that truly works for the country.”

The first to challenge was Alejandro Pérez , candidate for deputy for the Realizing Goals (RM) party , who filed a lawsuit to annul the election and the proclamation of the elected deputies in the 8-4 circuit.

The RM party, a group founded by former president Ricardo Martinelli, obtained 14 deputies in the May 5 elections. However, in recent days he was joined by the only deputy elected by the Nationalist Liberal Republican Movement. In addition, RM has the support of the two that the Alianza party brought out, its collective ally.

Luis Eduardo Camacho , elected deputy of RM in circuit 8-2 (San Miguelito) seeks the votes to become president of the Legislature and form a parliamentary majority.

In the elections on May 5, the independents won 20 deputies, 19 of them are from while MOCA won three.

These days there is a struggle to find the 36 votes that grant the legislative majority, a fundamental step when forming the board of directors.

Alejandro Pérez initially tried to strip Grace Hernández , elected representative of the 8-4 circuit, of the seat. Now his demand for annulment not only puts at stake the position of Hernández, who is also part of the MOCA ranks, but also the other four seats in the 8-4 circuit awarded to Roberto Zúñiga and Jorge Bloise , both from the independent Vamos coalition ; Ernesto Cedeño , from MOCA, and Javier Sucre , from the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD).

The seat of the five winners of the 8-4 circuit is not the only thing at stake. If the TE does not rule in favor or against this challenge before July 1, when the first legislative period begins, the Assembly would have several fewer deputies, which could affect these groups when voting for the new board of directors of the full.

According to the Electoral Code , the TE cannot deliver credentials to elected representatives if a challenge has not been resolved. Therefore, these five deputies could not assume their seats on July 1.

Another who has said that she will challenge the results of the election is the PRD representative, Zulay Rodríguez, who intends to file a claim for annulment in the 8-2 circuit of San Miguelito. In this circuit, seven deputies were elected: four from the Vamos coalition (Eduardo Gaitán, Alexandra Brenes, Luis Duke and Yarelis Rodríguez), one from the PRD (Raúl Pineda) and two from RM (Luis Eduardo Camacho and Omar Ortega).

If Rodríguez proceeds with his demand and the TE does not rule before July 1, these seven elected deputies from San Miguelito would not be able to assume their seats either.

Gabriel Silva , independent deputy of the Assembly, said that challenges are a right that should not cease to exist, but stressed that this resource cannot be allowed to be abused for political reasons and convenience.

“Hopefully the intention of these challenges is not to alter the composition of the Assembly on July 1,” Silva said.

Silva called on the TE to resolve the challenges presented as soon as possible.

“They must ensure the ventilation and review of these challenges as soon as possible so that the Assembly is proclaimed on July 1,” Silva said.

The TE has said that it will resolve all legal actions related to the May 5 elections filed by candidates, political parties or prosecutors.

“If any legal action is filed through a claim for annulment, whether it be an election or the proclamation of elected candidates, the electoral administrative courts will hear the cause and must resolve it in the terms established in the law, guaranteeing the principles of due process and equality. of the parties,” the entity said in a statement on Tuesday, May 21.

La Prensa again consulted the TE about when they estimate that the electoral courts will resolve the challenges, and sources from the entity stressed that they will do so in the terms determined by the law.

For his part, Roberto Zúñiga, deputy for the free nomination of the 8-4 circuit, said that he remains calm because he knows that he has the minutes that represent the popular will of those who elected him on May 5.

“I understand and respect the popular will that already decided in the election,” Zúñiga said. “It is very unlikely that the trend will change.

Zúñiga has faith that the TE will respect popular opinion.

“We trust that the Electoral Tribunal will act legally and in a timely manner,” said Zúñiga.

Another who called on the Electoral Court to respect the will of the majority was Walkiria Chandler, representative of the 8-3 circuit for the Vamos coalition.

The Public Ministry reported that after a sentencing agreement, validated by the Judicial Branch, three officials of the National Customs Authority were sentenced to 60 months in prison, each for the crime of extortion.

According to the investigations of the Anti-Corruption Primary Care Prosecutor’s Office, the events occurred on March 13, 2024 in the province of Colón.

The Public Ministry reported that the three officials, identified as Customs inspectors, intimidated and threatened a Panamanian citizen to get him to give them $600 for keeping alleged contraband merchandise.

Last Tuesday, May 21, personnel from the Public Ministry and agents from the National Police carried out several procedures to arrest these people and seize the elements that were placed at the disposal of the competent authorities.


More articles