Thursday 22nd September 2022.

September 22, 2022

Mahmad Daud Hasan , who has held the position of senior prosecutor since July 16, 2021, joined the Odebrecht case team a year ago, when the prosecutor in charge Javier Caraballo sent the anti-corruption prosecutor Tania Sterling on vacation .  Sterling – who had signed the Odebrecht tax hearing in April 2021 – went on vacation for nine months and never returned to the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor ‘s Office . Daud Hasan, who had previously been in the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Organized Crime , remained in the post. He was even one of the two officials that the Public Ministry (MP) sent to the hearing in New York, on March 20, 2022, in which Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares confessed to having laundered $28 million in bribes from Odebrecht, following orders -according to them- from their father, former president Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal . Martinelli Berrocal and his two children are on the list of 50 people for whom the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office requests a summons to trial for the alleged commission of the crime of money laundering. With the beginning of the preliminary hearing of the case (starting on September 12), Martinelli Berrocal took it against the prosecutor, pointing out that Daud Hasan was part of PMC International Legal Services , the law firm that established Constructora Internacional del Sur, company used by Odebrecht to pay millionaire bribes to Panamanian officials and politicians. The registration was carried out by Arquimedes Pérez and Eduardo Bonilla and PMC acted as their first resident agent. “How is it possible and how cheeky that the prosecutor in the Odebrecht case is the one that created the Constructora del Sur company, which paid bribes of more than $400 million, and that said company is the resident agent,” Martinelli Berrocal wrote on his Twitter account. . “That man who is giving the allegations right now on behalf of the prosecution, his company, of which he was its main partner, was the one who created it. And now he is the prosecutor of the case, “added his lawyer Alfredo Vallarino. What neither Martinelli nor Vallarino said is that although PMC International Legal Services incorporated Constructora Internacional del Sur on October 11, 2006, the company was acquired on July 21, 2009 -20 days after Martinelli took office as president of the Republic. – by the forensic firm Patton, Moreno & Asvat, represented by Francisco Martinelli , cousin of the former president, who personally appeared before the notary, to formalize the changes to the company. Constructora Internacional del Sur handled some $9 million in Multibank and more than $400 million in Credicorp Bank, as a result of bribes from Odebrecht. Finally, the company was dissolved on August 18, 2014; the Lava Jato operation began in Brazil five months earlier, in March 2014. Daud Hassan studied law at the Universidad Santa María la Antigua and completed a program at Harvard. According to his resume, he has been a university professor for more than 15 years, teaching subjects such as forensic auditing. He has written several books on money laundering and terrorist financing, some of which can be purchased on Amazon. He is appointed as superior prosecutor (as “temporary”) since July 16, 2021, with a salary of $3,680 per month, plus $3,500 in representation expenses.

The Odebrecht company did not only want to take over projects in Panama. They also pretended to have access to power and therefore got involved in political campaigns. This was stated this Wednesday, by the anti-corruption prosecutor Mahmad Daud Hasan, in the continuation of the allegations phase made by the Public Ministry in the preliminary hearing of this case, described as “the largest robbery of public funds in history”.Hasan expressed in the judicial proceedings that the Brazilian construction company “contributed millionaire funds” for the campaign of José Domingo Arias, who was the presidential candidate of the Cambio Democrático (CD) collective in the 2014 general  elections and one of the defendants in this case. On this eighth day of the preliminary hearing, the prosecutor referred to two publicists linked to the Odebrecht company. In that sense, he described that within the investigation it was proven that Joao Santana and Mónica Moura signed, through the company Polis America, a contract for the provision of advertising and marketing consulting services signed with the CD party. Hasan explained that, in his statement, Santana pointed out that Polis America began its services in Panama in 2013, in the pre-campaign and campaign of candidate Arias and for this purpose they signed contracts. Moura –according to what was read by the prosecutor– established that there were several meetings where former president Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal (2009-2014) participated and with whom it was agreed that the amount contracted for that presidential campaign would be for the sum of 21 million dollars. “The victim is the state in this big heist,” Hasan said. During the morning, the prosecutor described the alleged links with this case of: José Antonio Porta Álvarez , who was the treasurer of the Arias campaign; Jaime Ford , former Minister of Public Works; Frank De Lima , former Minister of Economy and Finance. The connection of Roberto Brin Azcárraga, Evelyn Vargas Reynaga, Francisco Pérez Fererira, Navin Mohan Bhakta in the plot was also explained. The phase of arguments by the prosecution in the preliminary hearing of the Odebrecht case is in the final stretch. “We are prepared to finish and finish supporting the judge and the citizens” about these investigations, said prosecutor Ruth Morcillo, upon arriving at the court.

The Superior Court for the Settlement of Criminal Cases confirmed the sentence of seven years in prison for José Antonio Carrizo Mérida , sentenced last April for the crime of aggravated fraud to the detriment of Corporación La Prensa, SA (Corprensa) . Carrizo Mérida was the legal representative of the defunct advertising agency In House Advertising Inc. and, together with Aida Tejada Garagate , a former Corprensa collections officer, caused damage to the corporation for $2.5 million, between 2009 and 2016. Tejada, who has a collaboration agreement with the Public Ministry, stated that this sum “could have been higher.”Tejada Garagate explained to the investigators in detail that she manipulated Corprensa’s account statements to benefit In House Advertising, management for which she was paid by Carrizo and  that Carrizo did charge clients for the advertising services that Corprensa provided to his agency. The sentence imposed on Carrizo on April 11 by the Second Liquidator Court for Criminal Cases (in charge of Lorena Martina Hernández ), also includes disqualification from exercising public functions for four years, once the seven-year prison sentence has been served. At the time, this conviction was appealed by Carrizo’s defense. Now, in a second instance ruling, the Superior Court for the Settlement of Criminal Cases confirmed “in all its parts” the sentence handed down in April by Judge Hernández. This decision, although adopted on September 16, was communicated by the Judge First Liquidator of Criminal Cases, Agueda Rentería , in an edict dated August 22, 2022. Against this decision there is still an appeal.

A group of migrants was robbed in the Tres Bocas area, Darién province . As a result of this event, a six-year-old minor died, while two adults were injured. This was reported by the National Border Service (Senafront), in a statement issued this Wednesday. According to the entity, the assault on the migrants was carried out by “people with a foreign accent in combination with indigenous Panamanians.” After the incident, the Senafront indicated that it carried out an operation in the area, which led to the seizure of a 380-caliber weapon in the community of Marragantí; illicit substances were also seized. The victims have already been rescued, evacuated and transferred to a hospital. The Senafront indicated that it is still searching for those responsible. Between January and August 2022, Panama reports 102 thousand 67 migrants who entered through the Darién; in the same period of 2021, the records reflect 70 thousand 361.

Eliécer Montenegro, president of the National Coordination of Representatives and president of the Western Panama Provincial Council, during his appearance before the Budget Committee of the National Assembly, did not give more figures or explain the budget execution of the Western Panama Provincial Council. Instead, he explained that they need an additional $9 million to the figure recommended by the Ministry of Economy and Finance ($38.6 million) to increase the salary of the 678 representatives of the country: an additional $1,000 per month. Currently, they earn a salary of $2,000 a month. The income of the local authorities has been at the center of the debate, after citizens criticized the high amounts in mobilization expenses that some of them received. Due to citizen pressure, the Comptroller General was forced to suspend these payments. To this is added the ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice , which last March declared unconstitutional the collection of paid leave, a privilege that many of them or their substitutes had. “It is the only budget hearing in which I do not hear goals, I do not hear plans, I do not hear what was done or not done,” said deputy Juan Diego Vásquez , after Montenegro finished his speech. “He has come only, and specifically to ask for a salary increase,” he stressed. Vásquez stated that, in his opinion, the discussion on this issue has to be “more technical and deeper.” The deputy spoke of the debt that this and previous governments have had with the general salary law. He also stressed that in order to increase the salary of the representatives, Law 37 of 2009, which decentralizes public management, would have to be modified. Montenegro assured that he did not agree with that and concluded that “the fairest thing” would be the increase they are requesting. The session ended without specifying whether the commission will ask the MEF to increase the $9 million.

The Panama Canal Museum, located in the village of San Felipe, celebrates 25 years as a place where the country’s historical heritage is highlighted on a daily basis. This research, culture and education center was founded as a non-profit organization in September 1997, to tell the story of Panama as a transit route and the importance of the Panama Canal. Those responsible for the venue reported that in the last two years a “renaissance” process has been launched, which includes the renovation of its rooms, greater accessibility, as well as new communication models that allow greater openness and closeness with its audiences. . Ana Elizabeth González, director of the museum, stressed that the celebration of the 25 years begins with a program of activities headed by the reception of the 1931 presidential flag and the presentation of its restoration. “On this occasion, we celebrate the rescue of a historical asset. But we also celebrate what the Panamanian flag represents: it is present, past and future, in one of the best expressions of what a heritage that passes from generation to generation can be: a tribute to all Panamanians who fought and who continue to fight daily. for the future of our country,” he said. In the words of González, the Canal Museum will continue with the commitment to “safeguard” our identity, heritage and culture. Hildegard Vásquez, president of the Board of Trustees, stressed that the museum has shown “resilience” and a “commitment” to continue telling the story that we like to hear and also the one full of difficult and even painful moments. In these 25 years, the museum has received at least 1.2 million visitors; held some 150 temporary exhibitions and rescued 30,000 historical pieces. In this scenario, it was affiliated with prestigious institutions, such as the Smithsonian Institute, the American Alliance of Museums, the International Council of Museums and the Network of Museums and Visitor Centers of Panama.

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